A great Summer of sport has highlighted several major achievements by our British athletes, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, Chris Froome winning the Tour de France and of course Mo Farah to name but a few. Clearly all of these individuals have worked hard both mentally and physically to unleash their full potential
In the 1950s, Albert Ellis pioneered a new type of psychotherapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. Ellis held that the real reason his clients disturbed themselves had nothing to do with their childhoods (as advocated by Freud) but everything to do with their irrational beliefs. Intriguingly Ellis discovered that all his clients shared a number of similar irrational beliefs and that these irrational beliefs are usually accompanied by “shoulds” and “musts”.
A person may believe for example that he must have the love of a particular person, or that he should not have to go on multiple job interviews and risk rejection, or that he should never have to control anger, or that he must have the continual, unfailing devotion of loved ones…or it is the end of the world. Ellis also believed that humans are flawed and highly fallible, no matter how great our strengths. We may feel terrific after a great action or turn of events, but we also feel bad after something bad happens. Managing the opinions of others is even more difficult, because we can never please everybody. Instead of basing our self-worth on our actions and accomplishments we should accept ourselves unconditionally. We may rate our actions as good, bad, successful or unsuccessful, but this does not mean that it has to reflect on our self worth. REBT demonstrates that challenging these irrational thoughts allows you to focus on reality and make decisions based on rationality. Rather than avoidance taking constructive positive action allowing you to maximise your full potential.
So as we observe Murray and his preparations for his challenge to regain the American Open Title we can reflect that had he believed he absolutely “must” win Wimbledon or it was the “end of the world”, or based his self worth on the opinion of others (which for a long time was definitely not positive!) we may well have been waiting for another 77 years for a British champion.