Friday, February 4, 2011

REBT & Challenging Your Irrational Beliefs

This is my 2nd post in the series on the Cognitive Therapies (click here to view the previous post). Today is on REBT, or Rational Emotive Behavior Behavior Therapy (this was mentioned briefly at the end of the last post. The basic idea is that we are disturbed not by events themselves, but by how they think and process these events.

There are Three Basic Musts in REBT
1. I MUST do well and win the approval of others or else I am no good
2. Other people MUST do the "right thing" or else they are no good and deserve to be punished.
3. Life MUST be easy, without discomfort or inconvenience
-Go here to see a list of sub-beliefs, and the related emotional and behavioral consequences
When we live life according to these "Musts", we disturb ourselves by being impatient, bitter, angry, frustrated, anxious, depressed, or decreased self-esteem.

Awfulizing: Basically, this is what we do when we create extreme negative thoughts. Examples of this would include "This is terrible", "This is horrible", "I can't stand (survive) this" or similar thoughts. To change this to a more rational thought, change the "extreme" word to something less extreme. Perhaps instead of saying "this is terrible", one might say "This is unfortunate, but I know I can survive it."
Shoulding: I had a professor in college who would always tell us to "Stop Shoulding on Yourself!" Although that phrase has always made me smile, when I think that I should do this or that, the phrase jumps back into my head. Why "should" you do something out of obligation. Won't it be much more enjoyable to do whatever that thing is if you'd "like to do this" instead of "should do this"?

So What Can You Do? Visit the link that I have posted above, and identify the MUSTS in your life. Along with the Musts, identify when you Awfulize Situations or "Should" on yourself. Change this irrational beliefs to something more rational. If you can do this, you will most likely find your mood increasing, stress decreasing, and more enjoyable relationships.

Follow this link to fill out an REBT self help form. This form will walk you step by step through identifying irrational thoughts and changing these to a more rational form of thought. And remember: Give yourself the freedom to not "should" on yourself this week!

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