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Featured It's you who upsets you, not the events themselves.

Discussion in 'Obsessions and Interests' started by Mia, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Albert Ellis started a revolution in psychotherapy by introducing the world to a form of therapy founded on a profoundly helpful insight of the ancient Stoic philosopher, Epictetus. It goes like this: It is not the events in your life that upset you; it is rather the way you interpret or think about these events that can upset you. So, it is YOU who upsets you, not the events themselves. This is the foundation of all forms of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT), especially the original one invented by Albert Ellis, namely Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

    Do you think that we upset ourselves, rather than things that happen in our lives?


    Balance of the article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-would-aristotle-do/201403/logic-based-therapy-go
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
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  2. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Oh my yes. More often than not I'd say many of us are our own worst enemies.

    In my own case I'd say it happens "in spades". :oops: Though I suppose whether things like CBT amount to truly helping remains a crapshoot on a case-by-case basis.
     
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  3. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

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    It depends on the person and the situation, in combination.

    In some situations/for some individuals, I think this idea quite useful and that perspective makes all the difference.

    In other situations/for other individuals, I think this idea is out of place and that to apply would turn it into a load of invalidating, narrow-minded BS that unfairly ignores the diversity of experiences that can make a person upset; ignores the diversity of individual cognitive and emotional processing abilities and forms/methods; and invalidates people's feelings while downplaying the value of those feelings and ignoring the fact that human beings are constructed by nature to react with negative emotions (the emotions are basically a form of information and also serve to motivate us to take protective actions) to what are often very real threats to our well being -- whether emotional or physical.....sometimes I think it would amount to nothing more than victim-blaming.
     
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  4. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Little bit of both. Though I do say my most formidable foe in my life has definitely been me. :(

    I think that, considering the way a lot of people had treated me throughout my life, I definitely had many valid reasons to be very upset at others. A few times, I was able to move past those moments with relatively little trouble. But more often than not, I just went into downward spirals of anxiety, bitterness, depression, rage. I didn't know how to stop dwelling on the negative. I still find it hard, but this time, I just remind myself that it's OK that I have a harder time than most dealing with adversity. I just need to give myself the space and the time that I need to heal, 'cause no one else will do that for me.

    No one will give me the compassion and understanding that I require. Therefore I have to give it to myself, which includes stepping away from those who cannot and will not understand me so that I don't waste precious time that I could use taking care of myself. It's probably one of the greatest things I learned over the last year.
     
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  5. RosaViolet

    RosaViolet Well-Known Member

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    A very multilayered question.

    On some level, I blame myself often, why the hell did I do that, why didn't I do that other thing, it could have been... etc etc.

    But then again, the consequences of me doing that thing are not in proportion to the small [non] mistake it is and entirely depend on other peoples dominance and preferences over which I have little control. Nothing I do is actually harmful in any way. I suppose I am cutting myself a lot of slack lately.

    Occasionally I am frustrated that my powers and skills to control events and people that affect me are not as strong as I have hoped.

    On the philosophical level though, if negligent scaffolding falls on me in the street, I wouldn't blame myself. I don't blame myself for the discrimination, bullying and abuse I received. Not at all.

    I do blame myself for putting my foot into the dog poo on the street while wearing my new red velvet shoes. Argh...
     
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  6. RosaViolet

    RosaViolet Well-Known Member

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  7. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Totally this.
     
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  8. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    It is we who create or have our emotions, but the emotions are often a response to an outside event beyond our control, without which the negative emotion would not arise... so if someone steals my wallet, then it's not me who upsets me, because I'm not the one who created the situation that caused the negative emotion in fthe first place, but it is then up to me to deal with that emotion.
     
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  9. JDShredds

    JDShredds Well-Known Member

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    From a strictly objective perspective, it is actually 100% true that we are why we suffer. However, we do not live in an objective reality. Our reality is inescapably subjective; in fact, we cannot even perceive objective reality.

    To make that less abstract, it is technically true that it is our interpretation of the outside event that causes the upset, not the event itself; HOWEVER, that does not always mean it is a voluntary upset or one that is within our control, within or without.

    With that said, for centuries there have been varying mindfulness practices (Buddhism, for example) that practice the art of releasing your attachments. It is, after all, your attachment that causes the suffering.

    Easier said than done, of course. My 13 year old cat is sick right now and I'm worried if it doesn't turn around I will have to have her put down. The event in of itself does not upset me; my attachment to her does. Even in the midst of this, I am aware of it.

    Yes, and no. I agree with your statement with one exception: It is not the person stealing your wallet that upsets you; it is the value you place on the wallet that upsets you. If you did not value the wallet, you would not be upset someone stole it.
     
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  10. Anarkitty

    Anarkitty Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    To me, these are two different conversations. The one conversation is about how I can eliminate my own suffering. The other conversation is about how people act in ways that cause others pain. So while other people definitely do things that affect me, and some of those actions are not pleasant, it is still within my own mind that the suffering takes place, and therefore, I have the ability to control this.

    From a Buddhist perspective, suffering is not feeling pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional. Pain is part of every existence. Suffering, rather, is about being attached to the pain, holding onto it, thinking about it, revisiting it, and allowing it to continue to color my life. This is the part that I can attempt to eliminate.

    Edited for clarity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
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  11. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    I have cited Albert Ellis, and A Guide to Rational Living often, in
    replies I have made in threads. Never thought of making it a
    topic on its own, though.

    Typically I include a summary of the basic ideas.
    1. I must have love or approval from all the significant people in my life.

    2. I absolutely must be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving or the idea that I must be competent or talented in some important area.

    3. Other people absolutely must not act obnoxiously and unfairly, and when they do, I should blame and damn them, and see them as bad, wicked, or rotten individuals.

    4. I have to see things as being awful, terrible, and catastrophic when I am seriously frustrated or treated unfairly.

    5. I must be miserable when I have pressures and difficult experiences; and I have little ability to control, and cannot change, my disturbed feelings.

    6. If something is deemed dangerous or fearsome, I must obsess about it and frantically try to escape from it before it happens.

    7. I can easily avoid facing challenges and responsibilities and still lead a highly fulfilling existence.

    8. My past remains all-important and because something once strongly influenced my life, it has to keep determining my feelings and behavior today.

    9. People and things absolutely must be better than they are and it is awful and horrible if I cannot change life’s grim facts to suit me.

    10. I can achieve maximum happiness by inertia and inaction or by passively enjoying myself.
     
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  12. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I believe I can be my own worst enemy.

    I can immerse myself in the ‘back story’ and drama, or; more so lately, not.

    There’s ‘more than one way to skin a rabbit’ as the saying goes,

    I believe there’s more than one way to react to an event or situation,

    The ones I’ve used the most to date will be my habitual responses,
    Until I change them.

    A different perspective, different understanding may likely mean a different outcome or reaction.
     
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  13. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    In the case of the wallet, it's not about money or material value; it's about privacy. I would feel like someone had violated my privacy, that they had taken something personal of mine that they have no right to have.
     
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  14. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Yes, I think that is often the case. I haven't studied or read much on psychology, but it is somewhat addressed by common sense, reflected in sayings like 'Don't cry over spilled milk' and 'Don't make a mountain out of a molehill'.
     
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  15. Anarkitty

    Anarkitty Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I recently saw a reference to the "5 by 5 rule," which states that if something won't matter in 5 years, you shouldn't spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it.

    For me, this is where meditation comes in, and sadly, many people have an incorrect understanding of meditation, which prevents them from practicing it--it doesn't have anything to do with "clearing your mind" or entering a trance-like state. It can literally be as easy (and as difficult!) as sitting still and focusing on your inhale and exhale, returning your mind to your breath when it wanders (or wonders :)). With experience, then, one can turn the mind away from distressing thoughts.

    I read that studies show that an emotion doesn't last for more than about 90 seconds if we don't feed it by letting our minds tell stories about the emotion (he hurt me, he robbed me, he said mean things to me). One thing that I've been working on is simply sitting with the emotion--literally just noticing what the emotion does to the body, where I feel it in my body, while not telling the stories about why I feel that way. And as I watch, the emotion fades away. Every time I manage to do this, it serves as a reminder for the next time that the emotion will fade away, that all things are impermanent, even the bad ones.
     
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  16. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    We have different experiences, values, expectations, etc, that make us react to and feel differently about stuff. But I believe that it is our tendency to dwell on the negative emotions without trying to understand where they are coming from that really causes us to suffer. Sometimes our emotions are so strong that we forget that emotions are temporary. Sometimes we allow ourselves to be ruled by them. We ND folks, especially, have certainly done this at least a handful of times in our lives. But we can try our best to ease the passing of those emotions, after spending an appropriate amount of time feeling them, by reminding ourselves that emotions can and do go away, and refusing to dwell on them for a very long time. Or we can just allow ourselves to deal with the emotions at another time, depending on what it is that upsets us.

    For me, doing that was nearly impossible until recently, when I found the right meds. My emotions ruled me, and I absolutely needed to change that. And if I couldn't do it on my own, then at least I recognized it and got some chemical assistance. :D
     
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  17. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Oh hey I just saw this after posting my reply! :D But yeah, that's pretty much what I said too. Great minds...
     
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  18. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    I find that a lot of these pseudo-intellectual acrobatics to avoid negative emotion primarily apply in menial, everyday situations that the average person in an affluent society deals with on a regular basis. I didn't read the link, only the post, so maybe it's expanded on to explain that it's not meant to be applied to more serious circumstances.

    If a child/teenager is neglected, hungry, and frequently beaten, how should this child view the situation to avoid the desire to die? Or does the concept only apply to adults?

    How should a 23-year-old being raped adjust his/her thinking? Consent?

    I'm assuming I misread or missed something, since I doubt anyone would argue for this to be the case.
     
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  19. RosaViolet

    RosaViolet Well-Known Member

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    I am all for not crying over spilled milk. This seems to be easy.

    However, things become more complex imo and I am not entirely sure how to structure my thoughts about it.

    Intuitively, there is such thing as right or wrong.

    When a wrong is done to you, one can adopt the Buddhist wisdom as described by @Anarkitty .
    However I feel, there an opportunity cost. By separating from the pain, we are losing part of ourselves. Maybe some part of love and joy [I know it sounds cheesy]. When I was prescribed medication, I wasn't able to retain my pain, I lost it indeed, but with it, I feel I lost part of the enjoyment, excitement and intensity of positive emotions than enable me to do important things. Maybe this is just brain chemistry and meds.

    But I think there is a broader point. To let go of pain for me means stopping to care, stopping to love. My children often ask me why I get hard on them sometimes, why can't I be 'nice' like the teaching assistant? BECAUSE I LOVE THEM, because I CARE, because I am their mother #@%&, not the TA. Being 'nice' for me means I don't care. It is easy for me to be nice and zen with people and about issues I don't care about, I have nothing to lose.

    I think by training ourselves to not feel the pain of others hurting us, we are losing some of our strength, dignity, and hope.
    I also think in some philosophical way by not challenging the wrong by holding on to the pain about it, we sort of normalise, enable, allow it to spread.

    Why do we get upset about Notre Dame burning. There was commentary on the news, why does it touch us?

    A cliche, but I think we need to hold on to things like remembering the holocaust, to retain the pain. If we are numb, we might be at risk of repeating the mistakes of the past.

    I think we can't properly get upset and excited about climate change because it doesn't hurt us yet, on a personal level. If the coral reefs would die out, divers would feel the pain very personally, but I would get really upset if the snow would not return in the winter. I would get really upset if the lions would go extinct.
     
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  20. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Depending on what the thing is that upsets us, we can spend a relatively short time feeling bad about it, and then we can let it go.

    Then there are truly traumatizing stuff that would take years to get over. Maybe we don't ever get over them.

    Emotions are fluid. One day, maybe the memory of a past trauma just passes my mind for a few seconds and I am able to brush it off. But maybe a few days later the memories come back fast and strong and I'm overwhelmed and the grief and anger incapacitates.

    Everyone suffers differently. Everyone heals differently. Some people can heal faster than others. Some people take many years to heal. Some people never fully heal. Some people use their negative emotions to drive them to do something positive for themselves, for others. Some people don't use their negative emotions and memories of past trauma for anything.

    Ignoring negative emotions and trying to get rid of them is just as destructive as dwelling on them and letting them consume us.
     
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