I need his or her and love and approval. - (approval and love slavery) vs. I want his or her love and approval but never absolutely need it. Life is more enjoyable with it but I can have some happiness despite not having his or her love and approval.
I have to be comfortable. - (comfort slavery) vs. I want to be comfortable but I do not need to be comfortable. Sometimes discomfort is the price of earning a goal. Tough turkey!
I have to succeed. - (success slavery) vs. I want to succeed but I do not absolutely have to succeed.
I have to be capable of perfect discipline. (self-regulation slavery) vs. Discipline is good as it leads to goal attainment and therefore I want to possess discipline but I do not have to be prefect in my discipline. Given I am a fallible human perfect discipline will never be possible.
I must never look foolish. - (social appearance slavery) vs. I wish to avoid looking foolish but I do not have to succeed at doing so. When I do look foolish I always can accept myself unconditionally even when shunned or ridiculed by others.
I must be thin, beautiful, muscular, etc. (bodily appearance slavery) vs. Achieving a thin, beautiful and muscular body may very well be pleasing and yield social rewards but it is not an absolute necessity. When I make it an absolute necessity I will set myself up for self-inflicted emotional pain and slavery to an ideal body type and extreme lifestyle.
This person must treat me kindly. - (slavery to hurt and anger when treated poorly) vs. I want this person to treat me kindly but it is clear that they do not have to treat me kindly as the universe permits them to treat me poorly.
The world must be as I want it to be. (Slavery to your circumstances) vs. I may very well wish that world be as I want it to be but it does not have to be so, will often not be so, and no amount of whining and screaming will make it so.
I absolutely need certainty and control. (Slavery to uncertainty and lack of control.) vs. I want certainty and control but do not have to have it and can live quite will with uncertainty and a lack of control. I can control my attitude toward what I cannot be certain of or cannot control and thereby choose my emotional destiny.
I have to keep up with others. (Slavery of others values) vs. I may occasionally like what others have and wish to keep up with them but that never means I must do so. Furthermore, not keeping up with others never leads to devaluing of my personal worth unless I invalidly and foolishly define my worth in terms of how well I keep up with others.
I have to meet cultural expectations. (Slavery to the customs of your culture) vs. Meeting cultural expectations may have its benefits but is never an absolute necessity.
I must acquire great wealth, power and prestige. (Slavery to money, possession of influence and reputation) vs. Wealth, power and even prestige may have benefits but like all else I do not absolutely have to have these things to accept myself and to lead a happy life.
I need my peers and collegues respect and admire me. (Slave to respect and admiration of others) vs. Respect and admiration from peers and colleagues feels good but I do not need it to thrive and survive.
I must not make mistakes. (Slave to flawless behavior and taking the safe path) vs. Making mistakes is generally bad but this does not mean I must not make them. Sometimes good may even come from bad. When good does not come from bad that does not mean mistakes must not occur. On planet Earth with fallible humans mistakes will occur.
I have to fit in. (A slave to being conventional.) vs. Fitting in may be lovely or may come at a great cost but in either case it is not a dire necessity.
I must always use REBT and use it perfectly well. (Slavery to REBT and the adaptive and flexible living it teaches.) vs. Thinking in flexible and non-extreme ways as REBT advocates is good to do and to do regularly and well but it is not an absolute necessity. As a fallible human REBT practice may be exceedingly hard and that is in part why it is so useful! If we as fallible humans thought this way naturally, easily and consistently we would not profit from learning REBT and having books and psychologists who teach it.
Keep a keen eye out for your rigid, dogmatic, absolutistic thinking which leads to self-imposed slavery, limits your options in life and your potential happiness. Relinquish these self-imposed emotional and behavioral shackles. Keep your healthy wishes, wants and desires but see that once your escalate these wishes, values and goals into absolutistic necessities you create an emotional ball and chain and shackle it to yourself. With practice and effort you can free yourself of emotional upset and self-defeating behavior to a great extent!
Note: I am a clinical psychologist with 27 years of experience using REBT and cognitive behavior therapy. I practice psychotherapy and train doctoral students in the practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Behavioral Health Center located within the department of psychiatry of the Perelman School of Medicine. I am an adjunct faculty member of New York University’s Steinhardt School in the department of Applied Psychology, and author of the soon to be released “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: A Newcomer’s Guide”. I have a private practice in Philadelphia. I am available for psychotherapy, coaching, and professional training and consultation in person or by Skype. Feel free to contact me or join my Intermittent Reinforcement email list and get started learning Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy today.