I’m comfortable admitting that I don’t know everything. In fact, I don’t know a lot about most things. Even those matters about which I think I know, I actually know very little.
This is why I’m fond of claiming that I operate from an ignorance-informed perspective. To those who expect me to know more than I actually do, they will be woefully disappointed by their self-disturbing beliefs concerning my knowledgebase.
As a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) psychotherapist, I’m inclined to highlight how it isn’t my behavior with which a person becomes upset. Rather, it’s the individual’s irrational belief (e.g., Deric should be knowable) that causes an unpleasant consequence (e.g., being upset).
Nevertheless, I don’t pretend to know about what time is, how it functions, or whether or not the manner in which I currently perceive time will remain constant when I transition from this life. For all I know, which again is very little, when I die my timeline may stop altogether.
Growing up, I was taught by ill-informed people about the concept of eternity—a state to which time has no application and which exists as a matter of endless life after death. Perhaps because I was a child and knew no better, I believed what I was told.
After all, there was no competing narrative to the information I received. As I grew older and began to think critically, I was left with unanswered questions concerning conundrums which were perhaps unanswerable in the first place.
This is where belief—trust, faith, or confidence in something—came in handy. A faith-based approach allowed for acceptance of statements as being true and it didn’t require objective evidence to substantiate a claim.
As I was taught that eternity predated me and would exist forever after my human form withered away, no one could disprove the unfalsifiable claim. Proof of its un-falsifiability was therefore used as evidence of its validity, which is a form of circular logic.
To illustrate how this illogical reasoning is used, consider the following:
Major premise: All people who fail to disprove the existence of eternity validate the existence of eternity.
Minor premise: John Doe has failed to disprove the existence of eternity.
Conclusion: Therefore, John Doe has validated the existence of eternity.
The absurdity of this form of unreasonable argument is as useful as trying to invalidate the claim that the color of silence is pickle green. Nonetheless, as a child, I believed what I was taught about eternity—until I didn’t.
Currently, I have no answer about whether or not there is infinite time. As is the case with many unfalsifiable topics, I remain agnostic concerning the issue.
Even so, I appreciate intrigue regarding the topic of eternity. As such, years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to hear an excerpt from a Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell interview series within a hip hop song following the final verse of Akin Yai, of Cyne, on “Arrow of God”:
Moyers: In classic Christian doctrine, the material world is to be despised and life is to be redeemed in the hereafter, in heaven, where our rewards come. But you say that if you affirm that which you deplore, you are affirming the very world which is our eternity at the moment.
Campbell: That’s what I would say. Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time! Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out.
Moyers: This is it?
Campbell: This is it. If you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.
An affront to the Jehovah’s Witness and Church of Christ doctrines under which I was raised, I consider Campbell’s perspective as feasible as explanations from the aforementioned religious perspectives. Still, I don’t know who—if anyone—is correct in regards to eternity.
When faced with unanswerable questions while working with clients, I don’t pretend to know more than I actually do. Some people live their lives based on unverifiable claims and doing so gives these individuals purpose and meaning.
Others function from a humanistic perspective and find value in self-initiated principles which are said to improve the quality of their lives. Regardless of the client and irrespective of the belief, I plead ignorance when necessary.
If John Doe chooses to believe that the suffering he experiences in the here and now is worth it, because his insistence on tolerating distress will presumably lead to life everlasting once he dies, I hope he receives what he wants. I’m simply glad he’s able to tolerate and accept hardship.
If Jane Doe opts to believe that when she dies it’s lights out and nothing comes afterwards, I hope she gets what she desires, as well. As long as Jane is able to tolerate distress like John, this is my main focus as an REBT therapist.
Regarding John and Jane, I invite people to consider that everything we perceive occurs now. As a matter of full disclosure, it’s an ethereal concept. People don’t wake up yesterday or tomorrow. It all happens now.
Though this is an abstract topic, if I can help a client to understand that discussing an event that occurred a decade ago is linked to now, then the discussed lesson from 10 years ago can have value now.
Admittedly, REBT therapists tend not to dwell in the past. Still, we can learn from past events and apply these lessons here and now, and moving forward.
Moreover, I encourage people to consider that even with the most detestable acts imaginable, it isn’t an event that occurred 10 years ago or even 10 minutes ago that leads to a miserable consequence. Rather, it’s what we believe about such actions that causes distress.
Let’s suppose somebody abused you sexually. You still had a choice—though not a good one—about what to tell yourself about the abuse. Given that you’re still upset about the abuse, you probably told yourself two things about it. First, you said things like: “I don’t like it. I wish to hell it weren’t so. How unfair.” That made you feel sorry and regretful, which is okay. But you also in all probability told yourself that the abuse should not exist. You were disturbed as a child because of both the adversity you experienced and what you told yourself about that adversity. If adversity alone caused disturbance, then everybody who experienced such adversity would turn out the same, but we know they don’t. So we teach people that they upset themselves then and that they’re still doing it now. We can’t change the past, so we change how people are thinking, feeling and behaving today.
Given this understanding, REBT therapists assist clients with the Campbell-esque eternity in the here and now—the function of life. Rather than helping John or Jane feel better about the past, an REBT psychotherapist aims to help them get better in the present.
After all, I have no idea what comes next once we die. Instead of wasting what precious time I have left in life by pondering unfalsifiable concepts, I devote the temporal length of my existence to helping people with the function of their lives.
If this sounds like something in which you’re interested, I’m here to help.
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, 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
AZ Quotes. (n.d.). Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time […] [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.azquotes.com/quote/799548
CBT Recovery. (n.d.). Interview with Albert Ellis. Retrieved from http://cbtrecovery.org/interviewalbertellis.htm
CYNE – Topic. (2020, September 17). Arrow of God [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/JVDVt7Z2PA8
Enriquez, A. (2021, October 25). Q. How does fair use work for book covers, album covers, and movie posters? Penn State. Retrieved from https://psu.libanswers.com/faq/336502
Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer
Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/
Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs
Hollings, D. (2022, June 23). Meaningful purpose. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/meaningful-purpose
Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). 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, April 9). The advice that never was. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-advice-that-never-was
Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna
Last.fm. (n.d.). Akin Yai. Retrieved from https://www.last.fm/music/Akin+Yai/+wiki
Lorber, K. (2022, August 26). Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers (full series) [Video playlist]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiYnNom7SVRMjsi2WSpIGBlo1UDhlXyvz
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Albert Ellis. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ellis
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Bill Moyers. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Moyers
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Cyne. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyne
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Joseph Campbell. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_campbell