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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Accepting the Tendency to Self-Disturb


Although they may exist without my knowledge, I’m unaware of humans who don’t ever urinate or defecate. Even if there are relatively a handful of people with rare conditions and who never need to toilet, such exceptions prove the existence of the rule—most of us piss and shit.


Since the days of my potty-training, I’ve accepted the inconvenient fact of life about pee-pee and poo-poo. More important than mere acceptance, I unconditionally accept the fact that on exceedingly rare occasion in my adulthood, urine and feces can present when least expected.


Forgive me a personal anecdote. In 2003, when living in San Diego, California, I took a trip to Tijuana (TJ), Mexico with a couple of loss prevention buddies I’d met when working for a major retailer. We went on a day trip for inexpensive cuisine at a restaurant that overlooked the Pacific Ocean.


For what I would’ve paid for a single fast food meal in San Diego, I was able to afford two lobster tails, beans, rice, tortillas, guacamole, and chips with salsa. Cautious of my buddies’ advisement, I drank bottled water.


The reason for this was that “Montezuma’s revenge” (traveler’s diarrhea) was something my friends reportedly experienced when previously drinking water when touring Mexico. However, I didn’t account for the fact that the fresh guacamole was made with local water.


By the time we made it back to San Diego and I was scheduled to work an evening shift, I spent the majority of my time in a restroom rather than performing asset protection doodies…er…duties. To this day, it was the worst smelling poop I recall ever coming out of me.


Am I ashamed of my tale about dysentery? Of course not! Why would I be? It’s a natural process for my body to have evacuated bowels when an unpleasant substance was present.


So, too, is the tendency to self-disturb with use of unpleasant and irrational beliefs. From the perspective of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), people upset themselves with assumptions about events. The useful technique that illustrates this Action, Belief, and Consequence chain relates to the ABC model.


For instance, the process of unhelpful demandingness occurs when beliefs present in the form of should, must, and ought-type statements. As an example, person X may unreasonably believe, “Deric shouldn’t discuss his bowel movements, because it’s a disgusting topic.”


When I continue with use of literally shitty examples, person X may then self-disturb about the matter with more should statements. “No professional psychotherapist should use profanity in a blog, let alone one related to mental health, so Deric really shouldn’t be able to share his thoughts,” person X may demand.


In this way, person X’s persistent self-disturbance is known in REBT as shoulding all over the place. It’s a messy affair, to say the least. Nevertheless, that which is messy isn’t necessarily intolerable or unacceptable.


After all, you likely urinate and defecate on a regular basis. If you couldn’t stand or accept this fact of life, how is it you’re still alive? To live is to piss and shit, no matter what you believe about the delivery mechanism (i.e., painting an employer’s toilet brown and green after a TJ trip).


Similarly, the natural occurrence of self-disturbance is a fact of life for most of us. Regarding this point, page 66 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to show clients that if they blame themselves for the tendency to self-disturb they will:


(a) disturb themselves even more than they already do for having this tendency in the first place, even though this natural occurrence is out of their control, and –


(b) prevent themselves from working to counteract these tendencies in the second place.


If you’re scratching your head and wondering why a person would choose REBT when the tendency to self-disturb is automatic, natural, and a non-shameful affair, I don’t blame you. I, too, thought something similar when first learning of this psychotherapeutic modality.


Therefore, I invite you to try thinking about this matter in another way. Shit happens. Irrational beliefs happen. With perhaps very limited exceptions to the rule, shouldiness happens.


I’ve long-accepted the fact that toileting is part of my daily activity. If I were to upset myself about the fact that this is the case, what rational purpose would that serve?


Likewise, I unconditionally accept that I—an REBT practitioner—use demandingness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, global evaluations, and other forms of self-disturbing beliefs. What reason could I possibly have for upsetting myself about this tendency?


All the same, just because I pee, poop, and self-disturb doesn’t mean I must do so at any or all times. I potty-trained years ago, so now I know how to toilet appropriately. I’m thankful for retaining this ability.


With REBT, I’ve learned how to train myself so that I don’t should all over myself, others, and the world to a degree whereby the consequences of my self-disturbing tendencies are now manageable. For instance, I may disturb myself into disappointment rather than aggression. For this, I’m thankful.


This is the value of REBT, because I’m not offering people an unrealistic life in which they never self-disturb again. If this form of psychotherapy appeals to you, I look forward to hearing from you. If not, scat! (Oh, I’m laughing at that last line. Ain’t that some shit!?)


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




Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 13). Global evaluations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 15). Psychotherapeutic modalities. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 12). Stop shoulding everywhere. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Wayhomestudio. (n.d.). Woman wears sleepmask bathrobe and lacy panties pulled down on legs peeing on toilet bowl poses in lavatory room [Image]. Freepik. Retrieved from

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