“We are disturbed not by things but by the views we take of them”
This statement sums up for all that follows below!
Feel appropriate sadness, irritation, and concern
Rather than inappropriate depression, anger, and anxiety when we encounter an obstacle that blocks one of our goals. And these appropriate responses to life’s variations result from our rationally preferring things to go our way – rather than irrationally demanding that they do so. Any particular adversity is best seen as unfortunate, inconvenient, disadvantageous, or frustrating – as opposed to awful, horrible, terrible, or unbearable.
See short-lived annoyances for what they are
Merely temporary inconveniences. And it implores us to accept the harsh realities of the world and the more permanent inconveniences (e.g. the probability that after we die, we’re actually dead) without bitterness. We should try to change everything that is in our power to change, but there are many things over which we have little or no control – and being bitter about those things is neither pragmatic nor psychologically healthy… because, for one thing, bitterness detracts from our enjoyment of life.
Accept the “sinner” no matter how strongly we may disapprove of their “sin”
We, humans, are fallible animals, so we often say and do foolish things. Unconditional Self-Acceptance is the key – to rate and evaluate our thoughts, feelings, and actions in relation to our goals and purposes, while refraining from rating our personhood as a whole. And it’s only fair to extend that same courtesy to others as well – Unconditional Other-Acceptance – rather than judging others as people who are intrinsically good or bad, it would be more realistic to instead judge the usefulness and ethicality of their deeds.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly
Never make the following three God-like demands of people and things – because these three musts are at the root of almost all disturbed thoughts and behaviours:
- musts directed at oneself (“I must perform perfectly everywhere and all the time”)
- musts directed at others (“Other people must treat me justly and fairly at all times”)
- musts directed at environmental or world conditions (“Things should always go my way – and nothing must ever get in my way or the whole world is completely worthless”)
These practical tools can help us to live a more rational and enjoyable life. And although applying these principles in your everyday life won’t necessarily make you totally, perfectly, utterly unflappable, it will take an awful lot to get your ass flapping.
Excerpt from the Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy.