Rules for Living Badly

Albert Ellis was an American psychologist (1913-2007) who, in 1955 developed an approach to psychotherapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT). 

The main thrust of this approach is that it’s our adherence to irrational rules that cause most of our pain and suffering. 

If we could only rationalise these rules, loosen their grip, and re-balance our thinking, it would help us to live a more balanced life. And yes, it is basically the precursor to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Here are Ellis’s 12 rules – (I’ve put them into my words but the gist of them is the same):

  • I MUST be loved for everything I do or it’s a disaster
  • Some people are just plain evil and should be severely punished
  • It’s TERRIBLE when things don’t go the way I want, and I can’t stand it
  • Life is horrible and miserable, and we have no agency over the awful things that go on
  • These terrible things and people in life are so awful I must keep thinking about them and never let them out of my thoughts
  • There are lots of things in life I don’t want to face or to do, and there are just too many responsibilities, so it’s best for me if I avoid them
  • I can’t do this alone; I ALWAYS NEED someone else
  • I MUST be 100% competent, intelligent, and perfect – if not I’m a complete idiot and a failure
  • I’ve had some troubles in my life – and I’m never going to let thoughts or feelings about those go – EVER
  • Life is nasty and uncertain, therefore it’s IMPERATIVE that I have 100% control over everything
  • I can reach a state of contentment without having to DO anything about it
  • I am like a feather in the wind – I have no control over my emotions and if something happens, I simply CANNOT help being severely affected by it

I hope you can see that if we adhere to these rules, we’re in for a rough ride through life.

So, hold as loosely as you can to your unhelpful rules, be prepared to re-evaluate and reassess, be prepared to be more accepting, and you just might find a smoother path.

Online counselling can help you explore what's going on for you, what your rules for living are, and what changes might help you. If you're interested in trying it, why not drop me a message

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