|Gloria & Ellis|
What about those 3 words I mentioned?
According to Ellis, when we tell ourselves something must be a certain way it leads to a lot of negative feelings. He even coined the term "musterbation" where we tell ourselves "I must do this" or "Things must be this way."
The 3 main must themes that cause us the most emotional pain are about ourselves, other people, and the world:
"I must do well/be loved or I'm no good."
"You must treat me well or you're a bad person."
"The world must give me exactly what I want, precisely what I want, or it's a horrible, awful place."
After we say something must be so, and we feel anxious or sad that it isn't the case, we then tell ourselves "I shouldn't feel this way or "I ought to be able to make things right." The combination of the primary must with the secondary should or ought is what perpetuates feelings of depression, anxiety, or even panic. Or as Ellis put it we get anxious about our anxiety, depressed about our depression, and guilty about our anger.
|Image courtesy of and © Natalie Dee|
But what about our past experiences? Don't those determine a lot of how I react to things today? Yes, they do. However, the idea that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it is also false. Instead, consider the idea that we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly-attached to or prejudiced by them.
More on these 3 words and REBT in future posts. In the mean time, evaluate your use of the 3 words in your day-to-day thinking. Do you musterbate a lot?