And Pursue What You Value from Others
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), developed by American Psychologist Albert Ellis, assumes that when you are experiencing unhealthy anger, you are not able to be your best in dealing with the problem at hand.
Here are twelve ideas to help you manage your self-defeating angry responses. The recommendations below are not aimed at having you give up what you value. The idea is to avoid experiencing unhealthy anger and then to pursue what you value.
1. Other people give you an opportunity to make yourself upset when they misbehave, act unethically, or otherwise act in ways you do not value.
2. You largely make yourself upset over what other people do. They misbehave, but you have a choice. You can think about their misbehavior in a self-defeating or a self-helping way. This is called the Principal of Emotional Responsibility.
3. The way you make yourself upset over what others do is by thinking rigidly about what others absolutely should or absolutely should not do.
4. In REBT theory, this is called Demandingness. Fallible humans are prone to experiencing Demandingness.
5. It is important to identify how your unhealthy anger and rage is hurting or defeating you. Unless you are clear on how your emotional reaction is hurting you, you will not be motivated to change how you think about what is going on when you are angry. When you experience unhealthy anger, you tend to say or do things that you later regret, act impulsively instead of prudently or use drugs and alcohol to soothe your unhealthy anger.
6. When you are engaging in Demandingness and are making yourself angry, you will observe that you tend to use words like absolutely should, must, have to, need to and ought to, as you think about the other person’s misbehavior. For example, you may think : “He is making me angry because he should not be so inconsiderate.”
7. REBT advocates a philosophy of flexibility. It is very difficult to have flexible beliefs that are true in reality and experience unhealthy anger.
8. When you hold a philosophy of flexibility and people misbehave, act unethically, or act in ways you do not value, you will feel healthy anger, disappointment, sadness or annoyance.
9. With these healthy, negative emotions, you are more likely to be capable of responding in a more effective way and be better able to think of ways to influence the other person. With healthy anger, you acknowledge that the other person is violating one of your values, but you are in control of what you are saying and doing in response to their actions.
10. A flexible philosophy flows from beliefs constructed with phrases like: I strongly prefer, I really desire and I am very much want.
You may then finish with: But I see I do not absolutely have to have what I want, what I strongly prefer and what I really desire, no matter how grand that would be. I see that there is no absolute law of the universe that dictates my will be done, even when my will is better, ethical and the more intelligent way to proceed.
11. Merely thinking I prefer that you not misbehave will not help you give up your unhealthy anger. You have to understand and accept the philosophy of preference and flexibility, which are at the core of REBT.
The idea is that there is no law of the universe that says fallible humans must not misbehave, even when you have a strong distaste for such misbehavior. Fallible humans often misbehave, and this is consistent with reality.
When you hold that others “absolutely should not” misbehave, you are maintaining a fantasy. Face that misbehavior occurs. Accept it. You do not have to like it, and you can try to stop it, but it is part of the human experience.
12. You can learn to develop a preferential philosophy through work and practice. It requires going against your human instinct.
Humans tend to almost automatically think others should do the right thing, as each individual subjectively defines what is “right.” In REBT, we like to remind you to keep your values, but give up the rigid demand that leads to unhealthy anger and rage. Then, once you have more control of your emotions, you can do something constructive about what is “wrong” in reality. You can assert, persuade or calmly manage other people if you control the important contingencies. This is a more effective and graceful way of living with fallible humans.