REBT teaches that you preferably should avoid escalating your wishes and wants into unhealthy, rigid musts. To do this, have a debate with yourself. Ask two simple questions:
1. Is my “must” helping me live well in a world where some of my goals and values go fulfilled or is my “must” harming me? If my rigid mindset is hurting me, in what way is it doing so? Answer: My unfilled rigid mindset is leading me to experience anxiety, unconstructive anger, depression, shame, unhealthy envy, and unhealthy jealousy. These emotions then cause me to do self-defeating things and to have little happiness with conditions as they exist.
2. Is it true I must have my wants and wishes fulfilled or is it a myth? Answer: It is not true that my desires must be satisfied. It is a myth because it is an undeniable fact of life that things will not always go my way, people will not always or even usually cooperate with me, and I will inadvertently make all sorts of mistakes that undermine my goals over the course of my life.
These two simple questions will help you to think your way out of emotional disturbance. The Stoic philosophers taught that to use our ability to reason is to live in accord with nature. Living in harmony with nature is as a human ideally should live. REBT builds on this idea and teaches you how to think sensibly to cope with adversity. Today’s lesson is relatively straightforward. See that you have every right to keep all your wishes and wants, but life and other people do not have to fulfill your desires. When things are not as we wish them to be REBT teaches that we never have to make ourselves miserable. We can choose to refuse to make ourselves miserable.