Psychological Self-Help

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Irrational ideas
Rational-Emotive therapy, as described by Ellis & Harper (1975),
Hauck (1973), and Maultsby (1976), emphasizes that irrational ideas
cause all our unreasonable or excessive emotions. In the 1st century
A.D., Epictetus, a Greek teacher enslaved in Rome, said, "Men are not
disturbed by things (that happen to us), but by the views which they
take of those events." In the 1960's Albert Ellis started teaching this
simple philosophy: our thoughts cause our feelings. Here is an
example: 
A. First, there is an event: our girl/boyfriend says, "I'm going
out with someone else." 
B. Then, our belief system--our irrational ideas--become part of
our perception of the situation: 
(1) She/he doesn't like me, I've failed, no one will want
me, I'm worthless, I'll never find as good a lover, it's
terrible that he/she is dumping me. Or:
(2) It's awful that she/he would do that, it's
inconsiderate, it's selfish, it's unfair, it's embarrassing,
it's mean, she/he is a terrible person, we made
promises, she/he has probably been "looking" for a quite
a while, I hate her/him. 
C. Then, we have an emotional reaction: 
(1) If your belief system (thoughts) is like B (1), you will
feel serious and lasting depression.
(2) If your belief system is like B (2), you will feel
intense anger. 
You see, it is not the external event--the rejection--that
creates the emotional response, but what we say (beliefs B 1 or
B 2) to ourselves! We have a choice. Indeed, we could tell
ourselves something entirely different and produce a very
different emotional reaction, for example: 
B. A more rational belief system: 
(3) We had some good times together but obviously
there were problems. I would have preferred that
she/he had told me that she/he was unhappy and
"looking" but it wasn't awful. I'm sorry we didn't work it
out but I'll get through the hurt, and I'll learn to be a
better companion next time.
C. A more reasonable emotional reaction: 
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