1. Building unconditional self-acceptance and other-acceptance
2. Building discomfort and frustration tolerance
3. Learning to be responsible for your emotions and your behavioral reactions to disappointments, failures, and adversity. Don't blame your reactions on events or other people. This is a hallmark of emotional health.
Strive to look for your rigid and extreme attitudes which lead to your upset. These are you musts and absolute shoulds.
They can lead to secondary derivative attitudes like:
- It is awful...
- It is unbearable and I cannot stand it...
- Devaluation of self, others, and life...
Practice using REBT's ABC model of emotion when upset by writing down the ABCs of your emotional episode:
A stands for adversity
B stands for rigid and extreme attitudes
C stands for emotional and behavioral consequences
Then try to question the B of the ABCs you wrote down. To dispute your rigid and extreme attitudes at B ask:
1. Is the attitude helping or hurting me live my life happily, effectively, successfully?
2. Is this attitude true or false?
Finally, try to create a new healthy attitude that is flexible and will help you be resilient. Here are examples:
1. I want people and things to be as I want them to be but they do not have to be that way. Life is hard and people and events will block me sometimes. Getting upset only reduces my ability to deal with life and have some happiness despite the adversity of life.
2. When I am blocked in life it is bad but not awful or the end of the world. No matter how bad things are things can always be worse. Also it helps when coping with bad events to remind mysel that good can come from bad.
3. It is tempting to put myself, other people and life as whole down when things go wrong. However, to think in extremes about myself, other people and life itself is self-defeating and leads to emotional upset. Yes parts of things are bad but do not confuse the part with the whole. I may have some bad trait and characteristics but I am not bad as a whole person. Other people also do bad things but it is invalid to conclude they are bad. People are a process and we cannot rate them because they are may evolve and change as time goes on. Condemning myself and others only leads to anger. Condemn the sin not the sinner.
4. Life is too difficult to rate. Parts of life are bad and can be rated, but the whole of life is too complex to rate as wholly bad.
Keep using REBT and it will serve you well. Live the philosophy of REBT to cope and get more of what you want out of life. You can have some happiness despite life being far from ideal.
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.