Apply the Albert Ellis ’12 irrational beliefs and disputing statements’ to your thinking…

Freud had a gene for inefficiency, and I think I have a gene for efficiency” ~ Albert Ellis, 1913 to 2007
This photo is Ellis with a patient circa 1940’s – (or it could be his receptionist hamming it up for the shoot).

This post introduces you to Albert Ellis and his basic ‘guide to living’. It just may be the key to real change for you…

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) today is an amalgamation of a range of best practice cognitive and behavioural therapies and strategies that have been developed over the last 50 years.

One of the principle founding fathers is Albert Ellis, the pioneering maverick who created Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT).

After 6 years as a psychoanalyst, without any evidence of his patients ‘getting better’, Ellis instead began to put in practice strategies based on his own philosophical theory that, no matter what the situation or event, it is largely how we think about and interpret our problems – (now, today) – that causes our levels of upsettness and corresponding choice of self sabotarebttableging behaviours. Ellis believed events and situations only influence our feelings and behaviours (otherwise the same thing could happen to 10 people and they would all feel and behave the same about it), and that rather it is our ‘thinking’ that causes them. Thus he believed that anxious and depressed people have developed distorted thinking and beliefs, which directly cause inappropriate extreme upsettness and self sabotaging behaviours – but that we can learn to identify and challenge such thinking, and apply new ‘self talk’ and strategies that will help to change it to healthy evidence based thinking. Why? in order to have less upsettness (to feel good!) and more constructive behaviours (living the life we want). And… patients started getting better. It worked.

Epictetus (stoic philosopher, & a major influence on Ellis): “What disturbs men’s minds is not events but their judgments on events.”

In a 1982 survey, American and Canadian psychologists rated Albert Ellis as having more influence on psychology than Freud or Jung. Psychology Today called him The Prince of Reason

Interested in knowing more? Check out the Ellis table below, and start thinking about your own thinking, and about how to make changes if needed for a happy and fulfilling life. Happy new year!


The Albert Ellis 12 typical irrational beliefs and disputing statements

review and think about these… * download a PDF version of this AlbertEllisTable

1. The idea that it is a dire necessity for adults to be loved by significant others for almost everything they do… … instead of their concentrating on their own self-respect, on winning approval for practical purposes, and on loving rather than on being loved.
2. The idea that certain acts are awful or wicked, and that people who perform such acts should be severely damned… … instead of the idea that certain acts are self-defeating or antisocial, and that people who perform such acts are behaving stupidly, ignorantly, or neurotically, and would be better helped to change.  People’s poor behaviors do not make them rotten individuals.
3. The idea that it is horrible when things are not the way we like them to be… … instead of the idea that it is too bad, that we had better try to change or control bad conditions so that they become more satisfactory, and, if that is not possible, we had better temporarily accept and gracefully lump their existence.
4. The idea that human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events… … instead of the idea that neurosis is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions.
5. The idea that if something is or may be dangerous or fearsome we should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it… … instead of the idea that one had better frankly face it and render it non-dangerous, and, when that is not possible, accept the inevitable.
6. The idea that it is easier to avoid than to face life difficulties and self-responsibilities… … instead of the idea that the so-called easy way is usually much harder in the long run.
7. The idea that we absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than ourself on which to rely… … instead of the idea that it is better to take the risks of thinking and acting less dependently.
8. The idea that we should be thoroughly competent, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects… … instead of the idea that we would prefer to do well rather than always need to do well, and accept ourself as a quite imperfect creature, who has general human limitations and specific fallibilities.
9. The idea that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it… … instead of the idea that we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly-attached to or prejudiced by them.
10. The idea that we must have certain and perfect control over things… … instead of the idea that the world is full of improbability and chance and that we can still enjoy life despite this.
11. The idea that human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction… … instead of the idea that we tend to be happiest when we are vitally absorbed in creative pursuits, or when we are devoting ourselves to people or projects outside ourselves.
12. The idea that we have virtually no control over our emotions and that we cannot help feeling disturbed about things… … instead of the idea that we have real control over our destructive emotions – if we choose to work at changing the “musturbatory” hypotheses which we often employ to create them.

10 thoughts on “Apply the Albert Ellis ’12 irrational beliefs and disputing statements’ to your thinking…

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  4. I disagree with Anonymous. I think Ellis is the best of the best. Beck is a watered down Ellis and Burns is a Dr. Phil. Some people get upset by Ellis’s stridency. I say, so what? Listen to Ellis’s talks and you’ll hear him the next time you have to deal with a difficult situation: Yes, you can deal with it. It’s unfortunate, but you can deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Mr. or Ms. or Dr. “Anonymous”:
    I can understand your resentment of Ellis, and your observations of Burns and Beck are no doubt accurate. Have you ever worked with engineers, My Friend? Ellis and people with an engineering mind-set often strike people of a different ilk as being condescending or self-righteous. Our mistake is not seeing that their sense of rightness comes not from them personally but from the rightness of reason. I’m not trying to persuade you of anything other than asking you to broaden your perspective of Ellis and people like him–not for their sake, but for yours. You can let go of that resentment, which will lighten your emotional load.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think Beck’s contribution was far greater and certainly more compassionate. Reading one of Ellis’s books is largely a monologue of how every other system of thought or philosophy of life is wrong except REBT.
    When I read David Burns’ “Feeling Good”, it was striking how much Burns praised and referred to Beck as a valued mentor and teacher. And even with many years of experience practicing CBT under his belt, Burns still occasionally consulted with Beck. Neither Burns nor Beck would claim to know everything, and even Beck would say that many clinicians were and still are involved in CBT’s continuing development.
    Yet according to Ellis, REBT is entirely a system of his own creation and development. His, and nobody else’s. Ellis insults and abuses his patients so often you start to wonder who has the real “thinking disorder”. And unlike Beck who believes patients need lots of practice and patience, Ellis seems to think the reason people don’t think as “rationally” as they ought to is because they’re stupid and benifiting from it. What an Egomaniac!


    • In the 1970s I learned of Albert Ellis through a film shown by a local mental health advocacy organization. I instantly recognized that REBT might help me in my quest to change the habits I acquired in childhood that always resulted in a tangle of emotionally messy interactions. It was a relief to find something that I might be able to learn that was in plain English (I had already studied other obscure and sometimes fanciful methods to effect behavioral change that were in my “Theories of Personality” textbook.”) Active listening had failed to make a dent in my problems and “I’m OK” therapy was a dead end. There were no REBT practitioners in my city.

      I studied the principles of REBT on my own and slowly gained an understanding of them. I found that REBT was rooted in the writings of Roman philosophers like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius that I studied in my college philosophy courses. I first learned to recognize how REBT applied to the speech and behavior of others. Then it was time to apply these concepts to modify my way of interacting with others.

      It took many years and was not easy to do things the Ellis way. But it was worthwhile and I continue to learn. I appreciate Albert Ellis more than I can possibly say.

      Liked by 2 people

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