You have the ability to hold Rational and Irrational Beliefs at the same time. Your stronger and more persistent Beliefs win, though you also hold the weaker Beliefs. When you have great difficulty Disputing and changing your Irrational to Rational Beliefs, REBT assumes you have strong underlying Irrational Beliefs. REBT includes many experimental methods that help you tackle these Irrational Beliefs and change them.
REBT helps people to use Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA), a radically different view from traditional, conditional self-acceptance. You accept yourself on the condition you perform well and are approved by significant people. Your approval of yourself depends on the reflected appraisal of others. Conditional self-esteem is always in doubt and may cause more anxiety.
REBT stresses USA. You can use the existentialist position and convince yourself “I choose to accept myself unconditionally, whether or not I perform well and am approved by people. My worth as a person does not depend on accomplishment or approbation, but on my being alive, human and unique.” The existentialist position is quite safe . . . as long as you live you can accept yourself.
The existential solution is philosophically and scientifically debatable. Being human, alive and unique have nothing to do with your worth. You are defining yourself as a good person, but you could be bad or neutral.
You can evaluate all your thoughts, feelings and behaviors as “good” when they aid your basic goals and purposes and “bad” when they sabotage them. These evaluations depend on your goals and purposes. Do not insist your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are “good” or “bad” for someone else, who may have different goals and purposes.
REBT encourages you to evaluate your thoughts, feelings and behaviors after you set your goals and purposes. Refuse to give ourselves global ratings, because we do good and bad things.
Why is USA so important to control your anxiety before it controls you? It is because conditional self-acceptance is the root of the worst forms of anxiety.
Anxiety is life protective as it urges you to take few risks to avoid pain and maintain safety. The worst forms of anxiety do not stem often from physical overconcern but from ego-overconcern. They result when you fear you will do poorly some important tasks and consequently be disapproved by others.
A remarkable antidote to ego-anxiety is USA. When you are completely in control of your ego, you are remarkably less anxious about failure and rejection.
Michelle was beautiful, bright, competent, and talented at selling insurance. She was the youngest and the best salesperson in her firm. She was engaged to be married to a handsome professor of economics who was also a management consultant for many large business organizations. She had a black belt in karate. But Michelle was socially anxious for her boyfriend was continually in the company of outstanding academic and business professionals who were highly competent, well read and could talk brilliantly on many subjects. Michelle had only an associate degree, she was sure they looked down on her, and was terrified about making verbal mistakes on their presence, because she imagined them thoroughly despising her.
She could not stand criticism, and she put herself down for making a wrong move with her insurance customers or saying the wrong thing to her boyfriend’s associates. Conditional self-acceptance will not work, unless people are always perfect, but people are fallible. Furthermore, people might reject Michelle for wrong reasons.
As Michelle gave up the dire need for social approval, she greatly reduced her performance anxiety embracing USA.