With some careful listening of your own irrationality, you may find that it’s actually possible to drive yourself crazy with sanity.
As you think about things and speak to others, reflect on how you describe what is going on. Do you think and say, “He made me so mad!” or do you think and say, “I made myself so mad about what he did!”
In REBT, we teach people how to think in a sensible way in order to feel self-helping emotions instead of experiencing emotional disturbance. The first step in REBT is to stop locating the source of your emotional disturbance outside of yourself.
REBT acknowledges that people do all sorts of very bad things to each other, and life challenges us with all sorts of serious adversity. The REBT theory maintains, however, that fallible humans largely disturb themselves over what happens.
When we think and say, “He made me mad,” we are overlooking the crucial role that our thinking plays in our emotional upset. When we think and say, “I made myself mad over what he did,” at least we are taking responsibility for our emotional upset.
This is the first step toward emotional well-being and driving yourself sane. When you attribute the cause of your emotional upset to external events and other people, you are always an emotional victim.
When you acknowledge that the cause of your emotional upset largely lies with your voluntarily-held dogmatic beliefs and subsequent extreme thinking, you are at least taking responsibility for your own emotional upset. This acknowledgement can be very liberating.
Once you start consistently using the “I made myself upset over what occurred” mindset of REBT, you are on the road to driving yourself sane. As a fallible human, you have the capacity to move toward sanity from being “unsane” and emotionally “disturbable.”
This simple twist of words will be difficult for you to utter in the most tempting moments of life, but this is exactly when I encourage you to use this awkward and sane way of describing your emotional experiences.
If you do as REBT teaches, you are taking a liberating and bold step toward rationality and emotional responsibility. Here are more examples for you to reflect on:
- I made myself guilty over my parent’s criticism of my self-interested behavior.
- I made myself shameful when I made a faux pas at the meeting.
- I made myself envious in an unhealthy way when I learned of his promotion.
- I made myself jealous in an unhealthy way when I noticed my date laughing with my friend.
- I made myself anxious when I realized I may get bad news from the doctor.
- I made myself depressed when I received yet another rejection letter.
- I made myself feel unhealthy anger when he would not do what I wanted.
I might add that REBT is unique in emphasizing emotional responsibility. Other cognitive behavior therapies encourage you to see that there is a relationship between thinking and feeling.
We in REBT drive this point home in a much more focused and self-liberating way. REBT teaches that people largely disturb themselves. People construct their emotions and have choice in how to think, feel and behave when adversity strikes, and this is a very liberating point of view.
Yes you can drive yourself sane! I challenge you to try it.