Mindfulness and REBT

As readers of these blogs will be aware Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), was developed by psychologist Albert Ellis during the 1950s. Ellis believed that it is how we interpret events that lead to psychological disturbance.

The goal is to help people become aware of their thoughts and change how they think about and respond to various situations. And through the process of identifying their irrational beliefs and challenging them they will have a philosophical change will lead to a more rational viewpoint about the same event. This leads to more rational thoughts and behaviours and a more resourceful emotional response. It is never about positive thinking or trying to positively reframe on the difficult reality. It is about seeing the situation from a realistic viewpoint, acknowledging that it is bad, by tolerating the difficult and by cultivating acceptance; self, other or world acceptance. Albert Ellis says:

“Life is indeed difficult, partly because of the real difficulties we must overcome in order to survive, and partly because of our own innate desire to always do better, to overcome new challenges, to self-actualize. Happiness is experienced largely in striving towards a goal, not in having attained things, because our nature is always to want to go on to the next endeavor.”

Albert Ellis, Michael Abrams, Lidia Dengelegi, The Art & Science of Rational Eating, 1992

Mindfulness is primarily about bringing awareness to the present moment so that we become conscious of our thoughts and deeds and of our experiences. It is about becoming aware of our autopilot response and it is only through this awareness can we change them.

First developed for a therapeutic setting by Dr Jon Kabat-Zim, Mindfulness has its roots in Vipassana meditation, taught in India 2500 years ago. Vipassana means “insight” or “seeing things as they truly are”. Put simply Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you are Mindful you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance with compassion, curiosity and acceptance without judging them good or bad. In learning to be mindful, we can begin to counter many of our everyday sufferings such as stress, anxiety and depression because we are learning to experience events in a more impersonal and detached way.

A definition of mindfulness by Mark Williams:

“Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself.” In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life”.
Mark Williams & Danny Penman Mindfulness, Finding Peace in a frantic World, 2010
Jon Kabat-Zinn repeatedly speaks of developing “non-judgmental awareness”

So it is by bringing Mindful awareness to the thoughts and attitudes we hold about certain events that we can uncover those unhealthy beliefs. Being mindful of the demands, the awfulising, the low frustration tolerance and the self-damning thoughts that run through our minds and mindful of how we think and behave when we hold these attitudes.

We always have a choice in life and we have that choice to keep these beliefs and associated behaviours. If we are wishing to bring about change in our lives we can see that there are alternative ways of thinking about the same situation which can be about more resourceful behaviours and attitudes. We will challenge our unhealthy beliefs with probing questions about the truth of them, the helpfulness and the common sense behind these attitudes and through that a more resourceful belief can emerge. By bringing our mindfulness attention to repeating our healthy beliefs we are able to observe how our emotional and behavioral response change which reinforces the benefits of committing to the healthy belief.

REBT was developed by Albert Ellis. It is one of the main schools of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It is a humanistic, philosophical and universal model. At CCBT we specialise in training adult learners in REBT.

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