Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a self-administered therapeutic approach to reshaping how you feel by altering how you think. REBT is effective because anyone can do it, and it is easy to understand.
Dr. Albert Ellis created a template to recognize, reflect on, and alter how we feel and react to situations. In addition, Dr. Ellis believed that we could re-train our thoughts and control our emotions by analyzing our belief system and recognizing how those beliefs affect emotional responses. The emotional response often dictates our behavioral responses to events and daily situations.
The ABC Theory
How does Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy work?
The REBT template introduced the ABC Theory to organize and understand how the event, belief, and consequential aspects fit our current thought patterns and emotional responses.
- A: Activating event
- B: Belief
- C: Consequence
In addition, Dr. Ellis’ theory is that people tend to blame events for their emotions rather than their internal belief system. However, this does not solely mean a person’s spiritual belief system. Because religious beliefs may have a set of rules inside their belief system that can affect their emotional responses.
The “A” in the ABC theory stands for the Activating Event. An activating event can be anything that happens to you in your day.
For example, that would be as follows:
You are working at a factory under a 90-day probationary period. After the 90 days, your supervisor will either officially hire you to full-time employment status or fire you. Your 90 days are not up yet, but you hear from another supervisor that you will not convert to full-time employment.
This is an activating event. Emotions will heighten, and the decision is ultimately out of your hands. Moreover, Dr. Ellis would remind us that we cannot control others’ actions, merely the reactions within ourselves.
However, according to Dr. Ellis, you have already gone through the ABC process if you are thinking about how upset you would be if this were real. You arrive at the consequence portion of the theory, which is the emotional response to an inner belief.
The “B” in the ABC theory stands for the Beliefs you have about what happened. Revisiting our example of the activating event, what beliefs may interfere with your emotions?
For instance, some people may believe that your supervisor has no right to make that judgment call before the probationary period has ended. On the other hand, others might think that because you are not converting to full-time employment that you are unworthy or did a poor job. A third reaction might be to believe that your supervisor will get rid of you because he doesn’t like you.
These are all beliefs, not facts because we have no further information. All we know is that a different supervisor has made a statement about your future with the factory. However, already some emotions are bubbling to the surface.
You are already having an emotional response because the future you now see does not include employment after the probationary period. The factory managers chose not to convert you to full-time jobs, this then triggers belief systems naturally. Hence, most feel they are arriving straight to C, which is the emotional response.
Dr. Ellis explains that the event itself does not trigger the emotional reactions that we experience. According to his theory, we have a belief system inside us from birth. Dr. Ellis believes that we are all born with a rational or irrational predisposition. Furthermore, mental disorders result from our inability to process our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.
However, please contact us today if you need help battling addiction. You are not alone, and we are here to help.
The” C” in the ABC theory is Consequence or the emotional response to your belief. You received word that you are not converting to full-time employment, but why?
When you do not have all of the information, then your brain can only fill in the gaps with the information it has. You are not going to work at this factory for much longer. Because you were not among the employees chosen to move forward with the company.
In addition, job hunting is stressful, you will need to update your resume again, and you will need to interview for another job opportunity. The reflection on this rejection is what will determine the “C.” A different “B” will create a modified “C”. But this means altering your internal belief system will alter your emotional response.
Moreover, Dr. Ellis’ teachings indicate that others’ opinions or beliefs about us do not dictate truth. Understand that your supervisor does not have to like you, under any circumstances. It is not your job to be appreciated, just as it is not their job to like you. However, we all have to understand other’s professional boundaries to implement and reinforce our own. Their opinions of you are their opinions, and nothing more.
To summarize, take this opportunity to identify what is not helping you anymore. By choosing to see this rejection as a part of your life that no longer serves you, you can then rise above negative emotions. Also, you will be able to regain self-power. In so doing, you alter your belief system and create new consequences. However, understand and recognize that your time at this factory is ending.
Disputing Irrational Beliefs
The Three Musts of Irrational Thinking
According to Dr. Ellis, the negative emotions we feel stem from a basic expectational system called “the three musts.” For instance, they are:
- I must be liked and approved by others, or else I am no good and deserve punishment.
- Others must treat me fairly; if they do not, they are not adequate and deserve punishment.
- If I do not get what I want, I will feel miserable.
These are irrational thoughts that are more common than you might think. In our example, each irrational belief can be applied and then produce a different emotional response.
For example, you believe that you are fired because your supervisor does not like you, then you may feel you deserve to be fired. You will feel sad, unworthy, and may then take this rejection harshly.
If you believe that you are fired because you did not do your job well, you may feel angry because you work hard every day.
Finally, if you think that without this job, you will be miserable, then you will. Active thinking requires active choices, and choosing to focus on one particular thought or idea will only hurt yourself.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Changing your thought patterns takes time and practice. The results will not happen overnight. However, REBT is a treatment approach that has become the cornerstone of cognitive-behavioral therapy since Dr. Ellis introduced it in 1955.
REBT focuses on the present. Several therapeutic approaches analyze deep-seated issues to understand patients. On the other hand, REBT recognizes a predisposition but then focuses on what emotional progress can happen today.
In addition, the present thinking is powerful, as it centers you at the moment. REBT does not require you to pinpoint exact childhood moments of rejection or heightened emotional states.
The past is in the past, and you are present at this moment. Also, you have the power to elevate your thought patterns and train them to work.
So, how do you change your thought patterns? The process is simple. However, it is the daily application that is hard. REBT techniques like rephrasing and self-questioning reinforce new thought patterns.
Instead of dwelling on the “three musts,” for instance, try asking yourself these questions:
- Who says I’m no good if I’m not liked?
- Is it possible that there is information I don’t know?
- Am I taking a business decision personally?
- Is this an opportunity in disguise?
- Is my emotional response being considered?
- Does this require an immediate response?
- Can I clear my head before responding?
Dr. Ellis’ Rules Of Acceptance
The REBT approach began in 1955. Inside Dr. Ellis’ template, he suggested three levels of acceptance to counteract the “three musts” belief system.
In addition, the three levels of acceptance can serve as a guide in the stressful moments before an emotional response.
Emotional health is crucial in our ever-changing society. But Dr. Ellis describes his first level as unconditional self-acceptance. On this level, you analyze your thoughts and inner voice and correct them. However, recognize that you are human, and with that comes to both strengths and weaknesses.
Your strengths do not make you better than anyone else. Likewise, your weaknesses do not make anyone else better than you. Honor yourself by reflecting on truth, promoting positivity, and encouraging growth within yourself every day.
Self-correcting methods take time, practice, patience, and compassion.
Speak nicely to yourself. Imagine saying harsh comments you make to your adult self to your inner child. Is your inner child crying or proud of themselves?
“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
We are all people, we make mistakes, and none of us are perfect. However, you will never know the struggles of strangers. Likewise, it is wrong to assume you know what someone is thinking or feeling without being told.
As in our previous example, you do not see why you are not converting to full-time employment with the factory. If you choose to make assumptions, then you rob yourself of the chance to learn, and you close yourself off to possibilities beyond your understanding.
Is it possible that this is a test? You did not hear this information from your supervisor. Open yourself up to the unknown. Naturally, you might be surprised at what you don’t know.
You can make as many plans for your future as you want, but it may not unfold the way you anticipate. However, accepting life as it happens and learning to train your brain to look for opportunities and new possibilities will enlighten your perspective. It will also bring a sense of relief to your life.
People tend to try to control every aspect of their lives, then often become discouraged by their plans failing. Make directions and general ideas of where you want to be and make decisions that can bring you closer. Train your brain to roll with the punches.
REBT In Addiction Treatment
Using the REBT approach in drug and alcohol recovery centers has become a standard across the United States. Likewise, recovery specialists have seen improvements in patients’ avoidance of triggers by teaching them to change their perspectives and their emotional responses.
Moreover, triggers can be anything with an emotional resonance that reminds the patient of using drugs, potentially causing a relapse.
There are many things in life that we cannot control. Additionally, there are going to be things that happen that we do not like but must accept. Remember that everyone is doing their best to live their lives and that no one is perfect.
To summarize, the goal of REBT is to give everyone a chance to look beyond their vision of their lives and the roles of everyone in it. To understand that your life is not solely about you, but about your connection to those who step in and out of your life.
Not only will there be things that you do not know about other people, but you are never entitled to an explanation for others’ actions or decisions. These are hard truths, but once the human ego deflates, we can better let go of the things that we cannot change.
To learn more about REBT and other types of therapy that can help recovery for you or a loved one, call us today.
Written by Annalise Baare
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