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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Feeling Bad Rather Than Being Disturbed

 

From a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) standpoint, there’s a difference between feeling good, neutral, or bad when influenced by beliefs about unpleasant events. To better understand how I differentiate between these elements, allow me to define terms.

 

Regarding “good,” I’m alluding to that which is to be desired or approved of. When discussing “neutral,” I’m referring to that which has no strong positive or negative characteristics or features.

 

In reference to “bad,” I’m highlighting that which isn’t to be desired or approved of. To some degree, life consists of each of these elements – sometimes conceptualized as positive, neutral, and negative.

 

Additionally, when discussing the word “feeling,” I’m referring to emotions (i.e., joy, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust, surprise, etc.) and bodily sensations (e.g., throbbing head). However, I reject colloquial use of this term when referring to a thought, hunch, or belief (e.g., I feel like you don’t love me).

 

Given these distinctions, what does it mean to feel good, neutral, or bad from a psychological perspective? Keeping in mind that good, positive, bad, negative, and neutral are subjective terms, so herein I’m speaking in generalities.

 

I suspect that if a thousand people were surveyed about how it feels to be hugged by someone they love, individuals would likely describe the experience as that which feels good. Do you disagree with this proposal?

 

Additionally, if the same thousand individuals were asked how it feels to know that someone in Zürich just closed a cabinet, they would probably express a feeling of neutrality – neither good nor bad – regarding the matter. What might you feel, given this example?

 

Likewise, I imagine that if the same sample of a population were asked about how it feels for that same loved one to suddenly and unexpectedly die, they would label the experience as that which feels bad. What do you think about this assertion?

 

It’s natural to experience good, neutral, or bad emotions which stem from beliefs about events. For instance, I may feel good when believing I have the potential to help people through the practice of REBT.

 

Likewise, it’s not unlikely that an individual will feel neutral regarding bad or undesirable death scenarios. As an example, one may feel nothing when losing a loved one whose medical condition got progressively worse over the years.

 

Moreover, there’s nothing inherently wrong with feeling bad when enduring bad events. For instance, losing a job and not knowing how you will provide for your family isn’t something one would expect is accompanied by beliefs which lead to joy or neutrality.

 

Regarding the experience of feeling bad from unproductive beliefs about bad events, page 114 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion invites REBT practitioners to help clients understand that we can help people feel bad about bad events rather than being disturbed.

 

Here, I differentiate between “feeling” and “being,” as “being” in this context relates to the quality or state of an experience. Whereas feeling relates to an emotion or sensation regarding my approach to REBT, being is the process encompassing feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

 

For example, suppose you’ve just lost your job and are now unable to provide for your family. You believe something unhelpful, likely involving demandingness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, or global evaluations regarding your self-worth.

 

Because of your beliefs about the event, you may feel fear about your future while also feeling nervous energy (i.e., nauseous, jittery, etc.). This is generally understood to be a bad feeling.

 

Still, you may be bombarded with negativistic thoughts and you may experience behavior such as pacing back and forth, and frantically searching for unfavorable coping mechanisms (e.g., alcohol). You feel fear and the effects of nervousness while you may be disturbed.

 

It’s natural to feel bad when one’s employment is abruptly terminated (ask me how I know). Still, self-disturbance regarding the event isn’t necessary. You don’t have to be disturbed when feeling afraid.

 

Moreover, page 114 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion expresses that REBT practitioners won’t help clients feel neutral or good about bad events, unless we encourage people to delude or deceive themselves.

 

Given the differences about feeling good, neutral, or bad when influenced by beliefs about unpleasant events, how might you react when using helpful or unhelpful assumptions about events in the future? Will you merely feel bad or will you be disturbed?

 

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


 

References:

 

Саша Корнева. (2024, March 7). Addiction pain despair [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from https://playground.com/post/addiction-pain-despair-cltgzutli05abs601kdje5w2c

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. (2024, January 7). Delusion. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/delusion

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. (2024, March 16). Disturbed. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disturbed

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. (2023, September 13). Global evaluations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/global-evaluations

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

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

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/low-frustration-tolerance

Hollings, D. (2023, September 3). On feelings. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-feelings

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, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-abc-model

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

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