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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Accepting Exceptions


 

One core tenet of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is unconditional acceptance. This technique involves accepting oneself, others, and life without use of rigid conditions.

 

For instance, when practicing unconditional other-acceptance (UOA), I invite individuals to recognize the limits of their control or influence over other people. Although one may prefer for others to do as one wishes, others aren’t obligated to fulfill such demands.

 

As an example, suppose you have a friend, family member, loved one, or other close support person who refuses to actively participate in a relationship with you. To keep this illustration simple, let’s say you have a friend who rarely reciprocates the initiation of contact.

 

You find that you’re the one who usually reaches out, though your desire for mutual contribution to the friendship goes unmet. In fact, you suspect that if you suddenly stopped contacting this individual you may never again hear from your friend.

 

There is a rational way of approaching this matter. Use of the scientific method would entail testing your hypothesis. Suppose that after initiating communication for the majority of contact events, you give a three-month grace period during which you don’t reach out to your friend.

 

You propose that your friend won’t contact you. If your hypothesis is then supported by evidence at the end of the trial period, you have options. You can initiate communication and describe your experiment.

 

Your friend could recognize the issue and seek to improve contact. Still, this individual may choose to self-disturb through use of unhelpful beliefs about having had the friendship tested without consent.

 

As well, your friend may passively acknowledge the matter and offer an excuse for the behavior. Then, this person may eventually fall back into the routine of not contacting you. A number of possibilities exist.

 

Let’s say that for the sake of simplicity, you notify your friend about the tested hypothesis, the person apologizes and affirms the intention of reaching out more often, and after another three months a similar result occurs. Your friend may be too busy for or even disinterested in contact.

 

Although you have a number of options available after six months of limited contact, you choose to use UOA. You don’t upset yourself with inflexible demands that your friend was never likely to obey in the first place.

 

Therefore, you admit that you have no control over your friend. After all, you cannot control anyone other than yourself. At that, you have limited capability of control over a number of aspects related to your physiological and psychological processes (i.e., heartbeat, thoughts, etc.).

 

Additionally, you acknowledge that although you’d prefer otherwise, you have no actual influence over your friend. Besides, you reported the findings of your scientific examination of the relationship and your friend’s behavior didn’t change as a result.

 

Consequently, you form a more adaptive belief about the matter through use of UOA. “My friend is a fallible human being, just like me, and apparently isn’t open to friendship at this time,” you believe.

 

Further, you assume, “Holding others accountable to my desires and demands isn’t serving my interests or goals, and it likely isn’t helpful to these people either.” This is a flexible conclusion.

 

Still, you may go a step further. When working with people in regards to UOA, sometimes people express the belief that letting go of other people seems cruel. To whom is it cruel when releasing these individuals from one’s rigid demands?

 

By accepting exceptions, one may accept someone as fallible while making the person an exception from those with whom one wishes to associate. Is it an act of cruelty to advocate one’s own well-being when another person is unable, or refuses, to maintain contact?

 

While I try not to tell people what they should, must, or ought to do, I’ll offer how I handle accepting exceptions in my own life. After conducting a rational approach to evaluating relationships, I may use open, honest, and vulnerable communication to repair fractured relationships.

 

However, if it remains clear that my efforts are in vain, I use UOA. In particular, I use a technique expressed by rap group 3rd Flo on the non-explicit version of their 2008 song, “Do the Heizman.”

 

The group’s dance that accompanies the track paid homage to football player and coach John Heisman’s famous pose depicted on the Heisman Trophy. Essentially, a single arm is extended from one’s body while the corresponding hand is raised, as to express, “Get away from me!”

 

Lyrics to the clean version of 3rd Flo’s song state:

 

Do the Heizman on ‘em

Shawty move to the left

Do the Heizman on ‘em

Shawty move to the right

Do the Heizman on ‘em

Now move left, move right

Do the Heizman on ‘em

 

Although some people may react in surprise to an REBT practitioner advocating a get-away-from-me method of rational living, I realize that irrational beliefs about this form of advocacy—and not the advocacy itself—is what causes surprise for such individuals. Therefore, I’m unbothered by their reaction.

 

My time, attention, affection, and life are valuable to me. The people with whom I share these resources offer mutual efforts to maintain relationships, as do I. If someone isn’t able, or doesn’t want, to communicate with me, I practice UOA and do the Heizman on ‘em.

 

After all, this is the most compassionate and rational step for me to take after other efforts have failed. Understanding the core tenet of REBT, as it relates to UOA, how might you handle situations when other people neglect or abandon your relationship with them? Will you accept exceptions?

 

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 the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues 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

 

References:

 

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/circle-of-concern

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/human-fallibility

Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/interests-and-goals

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2023, August 6). The science. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-science

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 11). Unconditional life-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-life-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, February 25). Unconditional other-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-other-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 1). Unconditional self-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-self-acceptance

Last.fm. (n.d.). 3rd Flo. Retrieved from https://www.last.fm/music/3rd+Flo/+wiki

Tipinable. (2009, September 19). 3rd Flo- Do the Heizman on Dat Hoe [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/gugbuNvRP3c?si=Gcrqjffj7kdv65_H

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Heisman Trophy. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisman_Trophy

Wikipedia. (n.d.). John Heisman. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Heisman

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