Entry 17: February 17, 2019

Mental Gymnastics

I was taught to eschew easy answers and fantastical thinking. Moreover, I was taught not to seek to blame others, for in doing so, you give away your power to make change. That does not mean I blame myself for everything, but rather, when I look at a situation in hindsight, I look to see what I could have done to bring the situation to a different conclusion. Why? Because I have no control over the behavior of others; I can’t change them,so the key to avoiding repeating something is to change me.

Living this way proved stressful at first. Then I discovered Dr. Albert Ellis. Through him, I discovered that stress is not the result of a given action or situation, but rather, is found in our reaction to said actions and situations. That reaction manifests itself as wear and tear on the body.

In particular, Ellis taught me to tune into irrational beliefs that are often seeded with thoughts of “should”, “must” or “have to”. The more we invest in these irrational beliefs the more stress we will encounter, because we diminish our capacity to problem solve.The more we give into the shoulds, musts and have tos, the more we cripple ourselves with their associates: guilt, rage, and worry. When we stop looking at the world with rigid expectations of shoulds, musts and have tos, we develop the flexibility needed to roll with the punches.

None of us can lead a stress free life; we’d never get out of bed. We can however minimize wear and tear though cognitive awareness and regular respite to restore resilience.

It may seem like I am writing this to teach you something. In truth, I write to remind myself. I have loafed all weekend, and as I sat down to write this blog, started to feel guilty, because I have not been doing the reflections I should have been doing for this entry.

Then I remembered: Although I might have reflected, and given my promise to myself, want do a daily entry, I don’t have to do anything, because I am doing this for me. This led a reflexive thanks to Ellis, which gave me a subject for this entry. Problem solved.

You can find much about Ellis and his Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy all over the web. I found this page quite comprehensive and didactic:

https://www.psywww.com/intropsych/ch13-therapies/ellis-and-rebt.html

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