A shrink asked me to sign up for a workshop in REBT, that is, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, a therapy proposed by Dr. Albert Ellis. I’ve heard a lot about the guy from a counsellor friend who practiced it on his clients as well as me. Over time, I’ve learnt a lot about what it entails to just be rational as well as get someone else, that is, a client to be rational. The theory is actually pretty simple, but as time goes by, I realise, it’s much harder to practice and apply in daily life. Nevertheless, I try. I’m putting a bit down about the workshop for people to learn about the theory, the workshop and my experience.
First a little bit about, the Dr. Albert Ellis! Apparently a great personality with a not so great personality, ironic? At 21, he had never managed to get a date with a girl so he decided he would spend a day in the park and ask out every girl he met. By the evening, he asked 100 girls to go on a date and nobody said yes. Sigh. If you were in the same situation, what would you feel? I’d say, most of us are likely to think “Man, 100 girls say no? Am I really that pathetic? What is it that they don’t like about me? Is it my hair? Or am I too fat? Too short? Do I have bad features? It must be the way I speak…I don’t think I make good first impressions” The negative self-talk just goes on. The minute we experience ridicule, we forget what’s actually good about us and question everything about ourselves.
This is precisely the kind of thought process the theory seeks to check. In this situation, what did Dr. Ellis do? Nothing much…He just went back and didn’t read into the situation at all, at least negatively. He thought, “If 100 girls said no today, is it that no girl will ever want to date me? Probably not” (Statistically, it seems unlikely. 100 is not such a large number after all) “Does it mean that if no one wants to date me, I’m not worthy of dating? No, that’s not possible” (If you start to break down the thought processes we have, we realise that we seek to achieve an ideal that probably doesn’t exist. It’s more often than not a fictitious construct, only in the mind.
What this means is that in an event, you judge not the person, but the performance. Most importantly, in your own case- judge your performance, and not yourself. When practiced, you will see how the former can lead you to more rational, practical solutions to the situation. It’s nice to wallow in self-pity and be angry at the world and everything else around you, but what good is that? Life doesn’t change for your emotions and the sooner we learn this, the better it shall be.
Written at: Mahathma Nature Cure Centre, Kannur, Kerala