The day I heard about the life and work of Albert Ellis, I simply fell in love. After a long time of not really understanding and not really believing in psychology, I learned that through good therapy, such as Ellis’ rational-emotive behavior therapy, psychology can be a powerful weapon against many psychological problems.
This is how Ellis explained it, as he applied his own therapy to himself to overcome his shyness and fear of being intimate with women. And I must confess that my mind completely changed when I started using it on myself as well.
1. The ABC Model
According to rational therapy, it is not the unfavorable situation that causes emotional stress. We actually let ourselves suffer, with our thoughts and beliefs about the situation.
The ABC model teaches patients to put everything in order and to look closely at the relationship between thoughts and emotions.
The A stands for the Cause, which is the unfavorable situation or problem. The B stands for our beliefs ( ” Beliefs ” in English) about what happened and the C stands for the consequences that these thoughts on our emotions and behavior.
If my Beliefs are rational, the consequences will be healthy and normal, but if my Beliefs are irrational, the consequences can be very unpleasant and negative.
2. Irrational Beliefs
These fall under the B in the previously described model. When Beliefs are irrational, it means they don’t follow any logic or common sense. They go through our thoughts automatically, without going through a process of reasoning that questions them or confronts them with reality.
The consequence is that people suffer more than they need to and they don’t respond to the situation in the best way. Ellis stated that there are 11 basic irrational beliefs, although there can be as many as there are people in the world. The problem with these beliefs is that, as the name suggests, the person firmly believes in them and does not consider any alternatives.
3. Unconditional acceptance of yourself
Ellis teaches us that all people have the same value, regardless of our possessions and appearance. These things change or even perish.
What we have today, we may be lost tomorrow. When this happens, we don’t lose any of our value as a person; it has been inseparable with us from the moment we first saw the light.
If we adopt this idea – which is the truth – we will feel much freer and we will love ourselves unconditionally. This without having to be attractive or successful, without having to have a lot of money, because these things do not determine our value. The most important thing is our ability to love life and love others.
4. Unconditional acceptance of others
Like unconditional acceptance of yourself, to be happy and at ease with others, we must practice unconditional acceptance of others. We must accept them as they are, whether they are beautiful or ugly, black or white, intelligent or stupid, rich or poor.
Everyone has the opportunity to bring us wonderful things, regardless of their external features which, as I said, are not important.
To free ourselves from anxiety it is very important to accept the people around us with their flaws as well as their virtues and not to try to change them or to burden ourselves with endless discussions with them. We will not be able to change them in an easy way. The important thing is to accept and appreciate the virtues they have, because everyone has virtues.
5. Tolerance of frustration
One of the most important things to emotional health is to be tolerant of frustration, to accept that the world doesn’t always work the way you want it to and that things won’t always go the way you want it to.
This is a reality that many people refuse to accept – which really doesn’t sit well with them – and that’s because of their irrational beliefs all over the world. They think in terms of “should”: The world should be the way I want it to be. When this does not happen, they become anxious or depressed.
Tolerance means accepting that sometimes things work out positively and sometimes they don’t and that we should tolerate this inconvenience.
An alarmist is someone who thinks something terrible is happening, something dramatic that he or she won’t be able to handle. He exaggerates the negative aspects of a situation.
This is a misconception that makes us even more concerned. Humans have been shown to tolerate just about any psychological blow. Therefore, the right rational belief would be, “What’s going on with me is very uncomfortable and annoying, but of course I’m able to deal with it.”
7. Rational-emotive images
One of the techniques used in the REBT ( Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy ) to turn off irrational beliefs is visualization. It helps to practice rational thinking and facilitate healthy emotions.
To this end, the patient imagines as clearly as possible a situation in which he or she is afraid and feels all the emotions that arise from it. Later , the patient is urged to exchange these exaggerated feelings for more appropriate feelings.
For example, he would exchange panic for displeasure, depression or sadness. We can command our own emotions if we make an effort to change the way we see things.