People are naturally irrational and reactive. Sometimes, we don’t know why we do things in certain situations. Most of the time, we blame our behavior to the unfortunate circumstance we happen to be into. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy or REBT believes otherwise. Whatever is happening does not emotionally disturb us. Instead, it’s how we perceive the problem based on our philosophies, beliefs, and feelings that lead us to act irrationally. Everything we do is a reflection of how we view things, and most of the time; it’s on the negative side which affects our mental health.
REBT is a behavioral therapy used to address the tendency of irrational behavior by changing the way we think by training our minds on how to see things. It is easier said than done, but I believe, with the patience and effort of putting it into practice, it can be done. Consequently, it will help you control not only your actions but also your mind, and be better for it.
The ABCDE approach effectively explains the process of REBT. For this discussion, however, we will look into AB and C only, mostly on how people perceive things based on what they believe in, and what happens after.
A stands for activating event. From the words itself, these are particular conditions that trigger the whole process of thinking, feeling and reacting. For instance, your employer schedules you for a one on one the next day. This particular event makes you nervous since you don’t know what it’s all about. You might immediately think the worst. You’ll start going over what you might have done wrong with work or anything else in particular. These things are assumptions only since you actually have no clue why you are being called, but most people will believe these as facts and react accordingly. “The most helpful definition of being positive is having hope and confidence in one’s ability to handle what’s tough, along with remembering that nothing is all negative all the time,” explains Jo Eckler, PsyD, a therapist in Austin, Texas
B comes in as your belief concerning A. These are what you believe in when presented with an event (A). There are four types of beliefs, and they are as follows:
Rigid beliefs are the absolute truths and demand you put upon everything, including yourself. These are the should’s and must’s you have not only for your self but other people and the world around you. If you cannot manage these expectations from yourself or the people around you and the world as a whole, every little failure can lead to various emotional problems. You may go through depression, guilt, and anxiety, trigger anger, and passive aggressiveness feel self-pity, hurt and procrastination.
Flexible beliefs are the things you regard as truths but are not absolute. They are conditional and can be adjusted accordingly. These beliefs are frequently shown as our wants and desires. There are three flexible beliefs namely, nondogmatic preferences for yourself, nondogmatic preference for other people, and your nondogmatic preferences of the world. Here, you acknowledge that you want something, but you accept the fact that you don’t need to have it.
Extreme beliefs tend to be irrational. People with extreme beliefs immediately think something as awful if it doesn’t go their way like failing a test. They cannot tolerate the discomfort of not meeting their demands, for example, your friend not being able to visit you upon request. They also easily depreciate not only their value but that of others too such as deeming yourself unworthy if you failed that particular test.
Non-extreme beliefs, on the other hand, are rational. They don’t “awfulize” failure; they can tolerate other people who cannot give them what they want, and they are not in the habit of ridiculing themselves or the people around them in case of failure.
“People with a healthy self-esteem tend to view failure as an event. People with low self-esteem often view failure as fatal. This thought process pummels one’s self-esteem and overtime being a failure becomes their identity.” –counselor Monte Drenner
C talks about the consequences of these beliefs. These could be cognitive, behavioral or emotional ramifications of your truths about a situation. These consequences depend on how you view the situation. If you are an irrational person, the moment A happens and provokes your beliefs (B), you are bombarded by negative emotions that cause depression, shame, guilt or anxiety. Your behavior then angles toward actually doing these overt actions you usually do when faced with these situations, or as simple as having the urge to react on what is happening but refraining from doing so. If, however, you are a rational person, you will gain a more realistic view of the situation and a balanced way of thinking through it.
To put it in a nutshell, an event (A) sets off your beliefs (B), which prompts your feelings, the way you think and the behavior you exhibit (C).
Analyzing the way on how you go through this process helps you develop your way of thinking. Remember, “Negative thoughts are just a part of life, but they don’t have to consume you. Instead of trying to ignore those thoughts altogether, try countering them with positive statements.” Licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D. said. It is best to identify where you need to change the way you rationalize things and eventually create a positive outcome. Once you determine the areas of improvement and take the time to correct it, you will have a healthier thought process and develop more rational views in things.
Mainly, it will help you lead a happier life.