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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

How Much Can You Take?

In middle school, I recall hearing bass emitting from a car that would often cruise the main street in front of my family’s apartment. The driver was beating down the block and I admired his sound system, wanting to one day own a similar stereo.

In high school, a close friend of mine (“Caesar”) frequently drove his brother’s Ford Probe in which two 15” subwoofers were installed. Rather than appreciating bass from afar, I was then able to enjoy the effect of simultaneously hearing and feeling music at the same time.

However, Caesar would drive and I was left to contend with the third member of our trio of friends (“Moby”) for the privilege to ride shotgun. Whoever was trapped in the back of the vehicle, closest to the subwoofers, would have the breath beaten out of them.

Moby was a lot quicker on the draw than I and he often wound up in the passenger seat. Though I liked listening to bass-laden tracks from DJ Magic Mike, Nemesis, Bass Outlaws, and the like, I could hardly breathe when cruising the streets of Bomb City while being bombarded by sound waves.

Therefore, the album How Much Can You Take by MC A.D.E., featuring a track by the same name, was a fitting inquiry for consideration. The track featured a music sample from the Halloween franchise, which was appropriate, because I thought it was downright horrific being smothered by bass.

As I eventually received a vehicle of my own, a BMW 325i, I no longer experienced the nightmarish conditions of being placed immediately in front of subwoofers. Nonetheless, the vehicle was sold to me with dual 15” subwoofers and a pair of 8” subwoofers.

Additionally, I acquired a pair of 18” subwoofers for installation in the vehicle before the car was stolen from the parking lot at the place of my employment. Even though I once considered the act of being beaten by bass something of a dreadful affair, I actively subjected myself to the experience.

Many years after high school, I had a 13” subwoofer installed in my brand new car. Due to advancements in technology, it had more power than the combination of speakers contained in my BMW.

The subwoofer was so powerful that I thrice had to install sound absorption material throughout the vehicle, because vibration from bass made parts of my ride tremble that otherwise would never rattle. Yet, I still sought that outcome.

When thinking about resilience in a moment of distress, and how people sometimes choose suffering, I’m reminded of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). In particular, I reflect upon low frustration tolerance (LFT).

If LFT had a catchphrase it would be something like, “I can’t take it!” Reminiscent of the question posed in “How Much Can You Take,” the mind’s answer to this query is typically something along the lines of, “Absolutely none! I can’t take this!”

We then persuade ourselves that because we apparently can’t tolerate distress, there is legitimate potential for danger. If we believe that we literally cannot endure the frustrating effects of stress, we are therefore convinced that we should, must, or ought to immediately eliminate, flee from, or freeze in the presence of a perceived threat.

Rather than allowing the process of LFT to unfold, I insulate my vehicle (self) much in the way I used sound-dampening products in my car. This is accomplished through the disputation of irrational beliefs.

As an example, it never was true that riding in the Probe and being pummeled by bass was a horrifying experience. To suggest otherwise would condone use of an Action-Consequence connection—actions outside of us lead to reactions within us.

Instead of valuing that flawed assumption, REBT uses the ABC Model to reveal that what we tell ourselves about an occurrence is what results in an unpleasant experience. This framing of the matter suggests a Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection.

Therefore, when Moby was able to ride next to Caesar and I was left to be battered by bass (Action), I likely told myself something along the lines of, “This is awful and I can’t take much more, so I shouldn’t be subjected to this treatment” (Belief), and as a result of this conclusion I was frightfully agitated (Consequence).

In this case, disputing this unhelpful conviction doesn’t take much effort. Given that I repeatedly subjected myself to the experience and no one was victimizing me—forcing me to be in that position against my will, was it true that I couldn’t take or tolerate the action?

Of course not! In fact, I rather enjoyed the experience so much that I subsequently sought to recreate it. Not only could I take what was occurring, I could do so again and again and again.

While it’s true that I’ve chosen a unique example that ultimately worked in my favor, I remain aware of circumstances such as those events relating to traumatic stressors which aren’t as neatly discernable. Even still, it is the B-C connection that plays a crucial role in our outcomes.

For instance, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) regarding the car that housed a 13” subwoofer, as the vehicle was totaled. During the event (Action), I remained aware of the assumption that such an occurrence shouldn’t have happened (Belief), and when my fundamental principle was violated I became upset (Consequence).

In essence, I upset myself with a B-C connection. Generally, I receive objection to this concept when presenting it to some people.

I’ll hear things like, “But Deric, it’s literally true that no one should run you off the road,” which is what occurred during my MVA. However, even if my rigid decree for how the world must operate were true—as evidenced in roadway laws—the event occurred nonetheless.

In fact, MVAs occur on a daily basis around the world. I suspect that even as I write this post, someone has been involved in a gnarly accident. Conclusively, it’s likely what this imaginary person believes about the action that will result in a self-disturbing consequence.

Through use of REBT, I can increase my frustration tolerance. How much I can take will ultimately depend upon me, when I unconditionally accept how little influence and control I have, all while taking personal ownership for how I feel (emotions and sensations) and behave.

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


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Unknown member
Jul 26, 2023

Amazing insight and a great story!

Deric Hollings
Deric Hollings
Jul 26, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for reading and taking a moment to comment!

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