I will first cover the mistake of not accepting ourselves unconditionally. Humans are inclined to demand something of themselves and then to rate themselves lesser as a person when they cannot achieve whatever it is that they require of themselves. Some of us will demand that we perform well in our careers while others will demand to be thin and “beautiful.” Some of us will insist that we do not make foolish errors. The different demands humans place on themselves vary greatly and are consistent with their personal goals and values. To think in an absolutistic way about what we do and the characteristics we possess is folly. Despite all of the significant achievements we do collectively and individually, humans remain born mistake makers, emotionally disturbed, fallible beings that cannot achieve perfection. The bad and wicked things humans sometimes do are in proportion to the degree of emotional disturbance they possess. By asserting that all humans are to a greater or lesser extent emotionally disturbed and fallible, REBT is not attempting to minimize responsibility for immoral behavior, but it is advocating a realistic and humanistic point of view. REBT teaches that it is wise never to lose sight of this aspect of our existence. We will fail, lose, error, and misbehave until the day we die. We always have the option of choosing to accept ourselves unconditionally when we fail, make mistakes, and misbehave. Doing so has many advantages. As we learn to accept ourselves unconditionally, we will be in a better mindset to work on improving our performance and the mistakes we commonly make. Unconditional self-acceptance helps us remain responsible for our misbehavior, face its consequences, and remain emotionally healthy enough to do what is required to improve our actions and judgments in the future.
The second mistake we make is that we try to change, transform, or control other people. People expend a great deal of time and energy trying to change others, and when they fail, they then anger themselves and depress themselves. Trying to change or control another person is like trying to change the weather. You will fail miserably. The best we can do is incentivize people to do things a certain way, but unfortunately, incentives do not always work as well as we would like. If we come to genuinely accept that we cannot change other people just like we cannot change the weather, we will have a far higher degree of emotional health.
Commit today to taking two crucial steps towards greater emotional health. First, unconditionally accept yourself with your weaknesses, limitations, and errors. Keep working at improvement but appreciate you will always remain a flawed human being. Second, unconditionally accept other people as they are and stop trying to change them. Accept you cannot change the weather and you cannot change other people. Fortunately, with a good deal of effort, you can make a change within yourself. Change what you can about you and start with unconditional self-acceptance.