But when irrational beliefs and thought patterns take hold and cloud this, they can disrupt your life and keep you from being happy. But by challenging the irrational beliefs that are disrupting your life and creating action steps to minimize them, you can mitigate them, which is the principle behind Rational Emotional Behavioral Therapy (REBT)a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy which starts from the idea that you control your actions.
What is Rational Emotional Behavior Therapy?
REBT was invented by a psychologist Albert Ellis, PhDin the 1950s. “The idea is that you’re trying to get someone to move away from an irrational belief and replace it with a less inflammatory belief,” says a REBT-trained therapist. Antoinette Bonafede, LMSW.
“The idea is that you’re trying to get someone to move away from an irrational belief and replace it with a less inflammatory belief.”—Antoinette Bonafede, LMSW
The REBT approach takes into account that you don’t know what will happen to you, but is based on the premise that you can control how you react and how you choose to reason and understand what is happening. “The goal isn’t to never feel angry, anxious or sad – it’s to be able to properly place that feeling so that you can respond in a way that best represents how you feel and makes it as clear as possible. as possible so you can be better understood,” says Bonafede.
How Irrational Beliefs Hinder Happiness
Irrational beliefs can keep you from being happy by preventing you from seeing the reality and nuances of a situation. Irrational beliefs also fuel the idea that you have no role in what happens to you, that Afraid of the unknown and the perceived lack of control can be deeply troubling. According to Bonafede, irrational beliefs can make someone feel like their emotion is happening outside of them and they have no say in the outcome.
In turn, these irrational beliefs can fuel more irrational beliefs. When irrational beliefs turn into obsessive thoughts and rumination they can be overwhelming And anxiety inducing. When not properly contextualized, these beliefs can eventually overshadow your goals and prevent you from doing what you need to do to live your life the way you want.
How REBT Helps Manage Irrational Beliefs and Thoughts
To help clients redirect their irrational beliefs into actions that support their goals, therapists who practice REBT follow the ABCDE treatment model. When helping clients with irrational thoughts, Bonafede addresses their concerns using this model, which is a step-by-step process for defusing irrational thinking. Here are the steps Bonafede takes when she sees someone talking about an irrational belief:
A (triggering event): An event, person or thing triggers an irrational belief. At this stage of the process, Bonafede says she is working to find out what exactly caused the irrational belief in the first place. For example, maybe it was a bad review at work from a manager or a major argument with a loved one.
B (forms of belief): At this point, Bonafede works to decipher what type of common irrational thought pattern (described below) the triggering event triggers. In the example of a poor evaluation at work, this person may slip into self-deprecating behavior and think that everything they have done so far in their career has been inconsequential or that they are not not smart enough to be good at her job. job.
C (consequences): This phase consists of unpacking the consequences, whether positive or negative, associated with the belief. In this phase, Bonafede says she also examines “what those beliefs then drive them to do.” For example, the recipient of the poor review may think they will be fired and unable to find another job in their field; Because of this, they may have decided to stop trying to work altogether or lash out at their manager or co-workers in retaliation.
D (disputed idea with proof): At this point in the process, Bonafede says she challenges the belief to help clients understand why it’s irrational. For example, she says she can ask what evidence they have of the consequence, or ask them how that belief serves them or helps them achieve their goals. During this stage, she says she also works to determine if the facts that form the belief are accurate.
Let’s go back to the example of poor job evaluation: a therapist might ask if this person has ever received critical feedback from their superior or if they have been disciplined at work. They can also help their client see that a less than stellar review doesn’t necessarily mean they’re horrible at their job or doomed in their field.
E (effective behavior): This last step of the model is to find a way to transform this irrational belief into a more proportional belief. “This is where we work to replace extreme, polarizing or stark ideas and statements with sentiments that are more appropriate to the situation,” Bonafede explains. One way to frame poor job evaluation might be for the person to decide to learn from the feedback they received and then change their work habits to be more in tune with their manager’s expectations of them.
4 Types of Irrational Beliefs and How REBT Deal With Them
Bonafede and family and relational therapist Beth Lewis, PLC, whose approach is deeply rooted in REBT, encounter all sorts of situations in their practices, but these four types of irrational beliefs are particularly common, they say. Read on to find out what they are and how a REBT therapist could potentially treat them.
This irrational belief is when someone believes they have do something to get the result they want. Associated with the words “must” and “should”, the requirement is signified by rigid absolutes and can imply someone set strict rules for themselves.
It can also manifest as a perceived lack of choice. In this case, “our behaviors become a function of pleasing someone else as opposed to how we feel in those moments,” Bonafede explains. For example, an irrational thought rooted in demandingness might look like this: “I want to be a parent, so I need to find a partner by the time I turn 30.” Or, “I’ve been invited to five parties this week, and if I don’t go, I’ll be a bad friend.”
How REBT helps: Lewis says it’s often rooted in some sort of defensive need, often for the safety and security provided by something or someone outside, so she would unpack that by helping someone see that they can impact their ability to feel safe and in control. “We need to move it to look inside instead of looking outside of ourselves to seek comfort and security,” she says.
According to Bonafede, horrible is all about the worst case scenario. “It’s something we can’t imagine going through, and it really keeps us stuck,” she says. Think, “My partner broke up with me, and now I’ll never have the opportunity to parent again and my life is over.”
How REBT helps: Bonafede points out that people are quite resilient and that this resilience helps overcome adversity. To help someone going through a horrific experience, she says giving perspective is key.
This type of irrational belief involves putting yourself down. “It’s about taking an unfavorable situation and turning it into an overall failure,” says Bonafede. For example: your partner breaks up with you, and now every time someone asks you about your love life, you respond by saying that you’re just not good at relationships or that you’re not a “meeting material”.
How REBT helps: Perspective really helps here too, says Bonafede. To help someone who is struggling with self-deprecating beliefs, it is essential to help them realize that an action is probably not the whole story.
4. Low frustration tolerance
This irrational belief, says Bonafede, is characterized by a person being unable to endure stressful, upsetting, or frustrating situations. It often involves an overreaction to something you cannot bear or overcome, and it can lead to thinking that you cannot overcome the specific adversity you are facing at all, or that you cannot overcome it. without negative result. .
According to Lewis, this particular irrational belief pattern often has a lot to do with projecting the traits and aspects you dislike about yourself. yourself on others. For example: you become extremely angry and throw a tantrum when their computer crashes and they are unable to complete a task.
How REBT helps: The goal here, says Bonafede, is to help someone increase their ability to deal with what frustrates them. This can be done by helping someone step back and working on coping techniques. To defuse this particular type of irrational belief, Lewis says she would also focus on diverting attention from this external force and on the person who has low frustration tolerance.
“I would go back to what this person thinks of themselves as being true, and does the person, behavior or action they see that they find frustrating or intolerable, reflect something that ‘she knows of herself that she doesn’t love? said Lewis. For example, perhaps the object of someone’s frustrations is deeply stubborn, and the frustration with them is actually a reflection of the person’s inner feelings about their own stubbornness (perhaps an aspect of her me from the shadowsparts of their personality that they don’t like).
Recognizing and addressing the four irrational beliefs that can get in the way of happiness is crucial for personal growth and well-being. By applying rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), individuals can challenge and replace these beliefs with rational, nurturing thoughts, leading to healthier emotional responses and improved overall happiness. REBT provides practical techniques and strategies for challenging irrational beliefs, cultivating self-acceptance, and building resilience, ultimately enabling individuals to lead more fulfilling and contented lives.