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"A single new idea can make you radically different in many ways"

" A single new idea can make you radically different in many ways", Albert Ellis writes in his seminal book that challenges our conceptualisation of self-esteem.

I remember how a single idea made such a change to my emotional state earlier in my life. At that time my primary goal was to find love again following the end of my marriage. A few months earlier a new relationship blossomed and I was convincing myself that my fairytale hero had finally found me. I was intoxicated by my "happily ever after" and making plans to adapt my life to merge with his when in a heartbeat he told me that this wasn't for him. He told me as gently as he could but I experienced the news as devastating heartbreak. My emotions responded accordingly, there were tears and disbelief.

Simultaneously, during the nine to five, I was about to embark on my Doctoral studies and my research supervisor suggested some pre-reading as I prepared to relocate from Asia to England. The subject was a psychotherapeutic approach called Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, more commonly known as REBT. An approach that I had not encountered before so as I packed for England and cried for the lost love I listened to a recording of a lecture that Dr Ellis, the creator of REBT, gave in the 1980s. In that lecture, Ellis spoke of irrational beliefs and thinking errors and highlighted the cause of emotional disturbances, or for me at that time emotional despair. I believed that what was happening should not be happening, that it was an awful situation, that I would never recover, and I would never find the love that I wanted. Extreme and inconsistent with reality, and certainly not helpful as these beliefs were I recognised, as Ellis had done in his early twenties, that I did not need this love that I had lost, I just wanted it.

The idea that I didn't need what I wanted was the idea that made me radically different at that moment. The change in my disposition from despair to optimism can be traced back to this "new" idea, yet, it is a universal axiom that supports healthy emotional processing, wellbeing, and getting on with life no matter the adversity.

I encourage you in your stresses and strains to try it, what do you want that you think you need?


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