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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

I Could "Should" Myself to Death

 

*Yellowstone spoilers contained herein.

 

Property of Paramount Network, fair use

 

When watching season five, episode two of the neo-Western drama Yellowstone, I was grateful to discover a lesson that relates to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Before discussing this matter, it may be helpful to understand the context pertaining to the particular scene.

 

Characters Kayce and Monica Dutton, a married couple, are expecting a child. Monica is nine months pregnant when involved in a motor vehicle accident while en route to a hospital, from which her infant son perishes. Because Kayce was unable to be present for the Activating event, he now maintains a self-disturbing Belief that leads to the Consequence of guilt.

 

Using the ABC model of REBT, I understand that when an Activating event (“Action”) occurs and an individual uses an irrational Belief about the situation, the person’s unhelpful assumption about the event is what causes unpleasant Consequences such as the emotion of guilt.

 

In Kayce’s scenario, he maintains what is often referred to as “survivor’s guilt” regarding his inability to protect Monica and their infant son. Here’s how the scene unfolds:

 

Kayce: I should’ve been there. I should’ve driven you myself.

 

Monica: We’re not gonna do that. No “should’ve.” I could “should” myself to death. But I won’t. And I won’t let you do it either.

 

Kayce’s unproductive Belief is a form of demandingness which takes the form of a should statement. He essentially shoulds all over himself and Monica, though his wife appropriately Disputes the unfavorable Belief.

 

Noteworthy, there was no Action-Consequence connection that created Kayce’s experience with guilt. When Monica was involved in an unfortunate accident (Action), the event itself didn’t cause Kayce to endure an unpleasant emotion (Consequence).

 

Rather, when Kayce unproductively assumed that he should’ve been there and that he should’ve driven his wife to the hospital, his unaccommodating Belief led to the Consequence of guilt. Thus, the Belief-Consequence connection accounts for Kayce’s uncomfortable experience.

 

Belief didn’t cause the accident, nor did belief kill the infant. However, if left undisputed, unfavorable beliefs can impact emotions and behavior. For some people who are stricken with guilt, which is caused by belief, they may opt to commit suicide.

 

Any of us may should ourselves to death. After all, unnerving beliefs can lead to irreversible consequences. Thankfully, for Kayce’s sake, Monica disputed her husband’s irrational beliefs.

 

One imagines that an Effective new belief that Kayce could use would be something like, “Although I’d like to have been able to drive Monica to the hospital, it was impossible for me to have done so at the time.” Keep in mind that a simple perspective shift of this sort wouldn’t necessarily cause a person to experience joy or pleasure.

 

What sane individual would enjoy the experience of losing a child in a scenario similar to Kayce’s? Rather than being gripped with guilt, an effective new assumption could lead to sorrow regarding the injury of a spouse and loss of an infant.

 

Given his circumstance, sorrow seems like an appropriate emotion for Kayce to experience. Monica apparently experienced appropriate grief of this sort, though she refused to inappropriately assign blame.

 

Because of her effective belief, a mother was able to mourn the loss of a child rather than self-disturb over the matter. Importantly, I appreciate Monica’s character development, as she didn’t always maintain the ability to think rationally during activating events.

 

In season two, episode nine, Kayce and Monica’s son Tate was kidnapped. In episode ten, when Kayce was preparing to retaliate against the kidnappers, Monica said to her husband, “I will not face this world without him. You understand me?”

 

Inferred in her self-disturbing statement is the belief that Monica must not live if Tate has perished. Aside from demandingness, she also uses awfulizing and exhibits low frustration tolerance.

 

Monica’s rationality from season two to five is remarkable. Although she could should herself to death over the loss of her infant, Monica uses rational thinking to improve her life.

 

This is the quintessential objective of REBT. Practice of this psychotherapeutic model is aimed at helping people get better, not to necessarily feel better.

 

Losing a child doesn’t feel good. As well, a person’s assumptions about such an event could lead to suicide completion. However, one who gets better is a person that despite grief is able to live rationally while processing a significant loss.

 

With this understanding, what steps might you take when experiencing a kidnapping event or motor vehicle fatality? Will you self-disturb, tolerate and accept the unpleasant situation, or perhaps choose escapism to keep from processing the matter altogether? The choice is yours.

 

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:

 

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

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

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, June 22). Shoulding on art. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/shoulding-on-art

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-abc-model

Hollings, D. (2022, December 23). The A-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-a-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-b-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna

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

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Yellowstone (American TV series). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_(American_TV_series)

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