The above quote by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius nicely teaches a core principle of REBT, namely the Principle of Emotional Responsibility. This REBT principle emphasizes that our emotional destiny is largely in our own hands. It is true outside events will occur which give us an opportunity to make ourselves upset. However, we teach in REBT that our beliefs largely determine whether our emotional and behavioral reactions are self-defeating or self-helping. Each us can choose flexible (e.g. I wish this adversity did not exist but it does) and nonextreme (e.g. This adversity is bad but not awful) beliefs about negative outside events or we can choose rigid (e.g. This adversity must not exist) and extreme beliefs (e.g. This adversity is awful and unbearable) in the face of negative events. The beliefs we choose are under our control as taught by Marcus Aurelius, Dr. Ellis, and all REBT practitioners. Also as taught by these same people outside events are not within our control.
It is prudent to see that it best for you to put your energies into controlling what you can control rather than in foolishly attempting to control what you cannot control. This will help you have healthy negative emotions rather than unhealthy negative emotions. These two groups of emotions are shown below. The first of each pair is the unhealthy emotion and the second is the healthy emotion.
Unhealthy vs. Healthy (Negative Emotions)
Anxiety vs. Concern
Depression vs. Sadness\Sorrow
Guilt vs. Remorse\Regret
Shame vs. Disapointment
Hurt vs. Sorrow
Unhealthy Frustration vs. Healthy Frustration
Dogmatic Anger vs. Constructive Anger
Unhealthy Jealousy vs. Healthy Jealousy
Unhealthy Envy vs. Healthy Envy
The healthy negative emotions are healthy because they allow us to then do one of two things. The first is to creatively and persistently try to change the adversity if it can be changed or to move on if the adversity cannot be changed, modified, or diminished.
When we elect to control and change what can be changed and to not waste time and effort in attempting to control and change what cannot be changed we empower ourselves. We also liberate ourselves from needless upset and like the Stoics we move on and enjoy life despite the inevitable adversities of life.