Blanca’s anecdote and REBT
In relation to privacy notification or function for many digital devices and applications, “DND” means “do not disturb.” For instance, if I send someone a text and the individual’s phone is in DND mode, the person likely doesn’t want to be bothered at the time.
Thinking of this matter from a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) perspective, I consider the process of self-disturbance—how people upset themselves with inflexible and irrational beliefs. When advocating use of REBT, I help people to identify when they’re disturbing themselves.
Yesterday, a close friend of mine (“Blanca”) told me about a recent instance during which she disturbed herself. A white woman, Blanca is married to a black man and together they have three minor-aged daughters.
When showing photos of her children to a black woman, Blanca was apparently castigated for having “mixed bloodlines,” or words to that effect. The woman then reportedly warned about the downfalls of miscegenation—reproduction between people of different racial or ethnic groups, especially when one of them is white.
Discussing her level of displeasure concerning the event, Blanca detailed a Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection in relation to the REBT ABC Model. Under this framework, people disturb themselves through use of four different types of irrational assumptions.
These include demandingness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance (LFT), and global evaluations. When prescribing to ourselves, others, or the world what should, must, or ought to be done, unhelpful demanding beliefs of this nature can lead to disturbance when others fail to obey our commands.
As well, belief in the notion that an annoying, disappointing, or frustrating circumstance is actually awful, terrible, or horrible, this form of awfulizing causes self-disturbance, because we convince ourselves that matters are far worse than they actually are.
Additionally, when people persuade themselves of an inability to endure an occurrence—often through narratives such as, “I can’t stand that this is happening to me,” they send a mental message to their emotions and body sensations (collectively, “feelings”) of disturbing LFT distress.
Furthermore, believing that we, others, and life is entirely bad, wrong, or otherwise—neglecting consideration of nuanced perspectives or alternative possibilities—these unproductive global evaluations can cause unnecessary self-disturbance.
In Blanca’s case, she expressed disbelief about the woman’s comments (indicating LFT) and added an unfavorable assumption about how people ought not to verbalize racist beliefs (representative of demandingness). Disappointingly, Blanca’s story resonated with me on a personal level.
The first girl I experienced romantic love for was the daughter (“Antebellum”) of a white family that took me into their household from a children’s home at the start of my sophomore year of high school. When sheltering me, they were well aware that I am biracial (white mom, black dad).
I’d become acquainted with Antebellum while in the children’s home and during my eighth grade year, as I began attending services with the church congregation of which she was a member. By my ninth grade year, Antebellum and I had recurring spots next to one another on one of the pews within the main auditorium where services were held.
At the end of that summer, her family took me into their home. Initially, I kept quiet with the family about my attraction to their daughter. I didn’t even communicate my sentiment to Antebellum.
However, her mother and I grew closer and would engage in marathon dialogue sessions, and I eventually admitted my sentiment. I told the mother that I intended on one day marrying Antebellum.
To my surprise, the mother told me something to the effect of, “That will never happen,” and she advised me to, “Put that out of your mind.” In retrospect, I don’t know what response I expected.
At any rate, when I asked for her reasoning, the mother of the family quoted biblical scripture. For instance, Daniel 2:43 states, “And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”
As well, Deuteronomy 7:3-4 advises, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.”
Likewise, Joshua 23:12-13 states:
For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.
Although there are additional passages which suggest that intermixing tribes, races, or ethnicities is forbidden, I suspect the reader understands the reasoning of the family’s matriarch. She wasn’t merely prejudiced, she had what she believed was the Creator’s will as her foundation.
At that time in my adolescence, I used the B-C connection to self-disturb into a miserable experience. I was sad and angry (emotion), my head felt hot and my heart pounded (sensation), and I frantically tried to argue my rebuttal to biblical scripture (behavior).
Unwaveringly, the mother of the family told me there was no scenario in which Antebellum and I would ever be permitted to date, let alone marry. Angered by my irrational beliefs, I demanded to be returned to the children’s home.
By that point in my life, I’d endured psychological and physical abuse from both of my biological parents—later having been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder in association with my traumatic experience in childhood. Eventually, I was sent to a children’s home in relation to that chaotic upbringing.
Nonetheless, the anguish I experienced from unhealthy beliefs surrounding my inability to be with Antebellum was far more distressing than being battered, derided, and abandoned by my parents. Moreover, I fully disturbed myself into that experience through use of all four types of irrational beliefs.
Using the B-C connection, the behavioral consequence of my self-disturbing assumptions resulted in seeking out gang-related friends and violating many rules of the family that showed me kindness. Ultimately, I acted out to such a degree that I was kicked out of their home during my senior year of high school, returning to the children’s home.
It wasn’t until I learned of REBT in adulthood that I truly understood the process of self-disturbance I’d experienced in relation to Antebellum and my race. Similar to Blanca, I used unhelpful beliefs which didn’t serve me well at all.
Now, I’m no longer disturbed by bigotry regarding race—stemming from the Bible or not. Though I consider prejudice and discrimination to be disappointing elements of life, I unconditionally accept that I wasn’t entitled to Antebellum, nor do I deserve not to be offended in life.
Although DND generally refers to digital devices and applications, I find it useful to remember these three letters as a lesson about self-disturbance. In particular, I understand that people upset themselves with the B-C connection and they can stop bothering themselves with unhelpful beliefs if they so desire.
Herein, I’ve provided two anecdotes—one pertaining to Blanca and one relating to me—so that the reader may benefit from examples about how instances of bigotry, prejudice, or racism don’t have to ruin one’s day or impact a significant moment in one’s life.
Instead of disturbing ourselves, we can simply turn on the DND feature of unconditional acceptance. After all, the woman who chastised Blanca and the matriarch of the family who took me in are entitled to their opinions.
On the other hand, Blanca and I don’t have to like of love the beliefs of other people, though we can tolerate and accept them nonetheless. Would you like to know more about how you can practice the REBT method to reduce self-disturbance?
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
(This is a sketch of Antebellum that I drew on a paper plate when we were in high school)
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