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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

One Day, You're Here...

When stationed in Okinawa as a Marine from ’97 to ’99, I met a fellow military police officer, “Nat” (female), who was also from Texas. Hailing from Bomb City, I wasn’t aware of as many H-Town rap artists from the area of Nat’s upbringing.

One day, she introduced me to the music of DJ Screw—a Houston hip hop legend. At first, I concluded that the slowed down music with chopped-up beats and lyrics was like a hideous assault on my eardrums.

As Nat encouraged me to listen closer, explaining the history of Screw’s pioneering DJ technique, I began to appreciate the music. One of the albums which convinced me that the chopped and screwed genre retained value was DJ Screw’s album Chapter 070. Endonesia (1997).

In particular, I enjoyed hip hop duo UGK’s song “One Day,” featuring Mr. 3-2 and Ronnie Spencer. For those who dislike Screw music, I’ll include a link to the regular version of the track.

The song addresses content applicable to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and existentialism. Though I didn’t fully comprehend the depth of its lyrics when initially introduced to the track, I now have improved understanding about its relevance. For instance, the chorus repeats:

One day, you’re here, baby, and then you’re gone (The next day, you’re gone).

While I’ve maintained familiarity with death since a young age, and I was prepared to die or kill as a Marine, I think it’s safe to say that my underdeveloped brain and associated mental processes couldn’t fully comprehend how fragile life actually is when hearing “One Day” back in the late ’90’s.

How often do you contemplate the inevitability of your own death? Like so many other people, do you try to distract yourself from thinking about the one event in your life that is guaranteed to transpire—death?

“One Day” informs the listener that, relatively speaking, your life will expire in the matter of a day. One day, you’re here and the next day, you’re gone.

From an REBT perspective, I ponder the certainty of death in relation to unconditional life-acceptance (ULA). Regarding this matter, one REBT practitioner states, “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a tough-minded approach and encourages people to philosophically address the worst-case scenario.”

Rather than avoiding the topic of death, as so many people doubtlessly do, ULA allows a person to face discomfort created by one’s irrational beliefs about death. Generally speaking, these beliefs are expressed through several varieties.

Demandingness – When thinking about death, you may inflexibly demand, “I shouldn’t think about dying, because it’s too stressful to think about.”

Awfulizing – When contemplating your inevitable demise, you may dramatically maintain, “Death is awful, so I don’t want to spend a second more thinking about it.”

Low frustration tolerance – When considering the fact that the way you currently exist will one day be no more, you may lie to yourself by declaring, “I can’t stand the thought of death, because it’s unbearable.”

Global evaluations – When reasoning that everyone you’ve ever known, currently know, and shall ever know will one day die, you may overgeneralize by believing, “There’s no point in living, because I’ll one day be wiped from the face of the earth, so life itself sucks!”

The reason these are irrational beliefs is because death isn’t too stressful to contemplate, death in and of itself isn’t distressing, you can actually tolerate the thought of death, and life isn’t inherently meaningless simply because you will one day die. How have I arrived to these conclusions?

First, thinking of death isn’t innately stressful. Rather, you create a distressing situation by telling yourself that you shouldn’t consider the inevitable. When giving yourself this unhelpful command, and thinking about death anyway, your violated rule creates an unpleasant consequence—not the thought of death itself.

Second, the experience of death isn’t intrinsically awful, though there certainly are some ghastly methods of dying. Avoidance of thought about your unavoidable death may create unproductive angst just as much as awfulizing the experience of death may result in distress.

Third, if it were true that you couldn’t stand the thought of death, how is it possible for you to have reached awareness that you will one day die in the first place? On some level, you’ve been able to, at minimal, tolerate the thought.

Lastly, concluding that life has no meaning, simply because it will one day end, discounts one’s ability to ascribe meaning in the present. Even if I grant the premise that death is meaningless, actions taken up until that moment may retain significant value.

I suppose UGK member Bun B wisely summarized the content reflected in this blogpost when he stated in “One Day,” “So, shit, I walk around with my mind blown in my own fuckin’ zone, ‘cause one day, you’re here; the next day, you’re gone.”

Through the lens of ULA, I see that death is inevitable. I can accept this unavoidable fact without unhelpful conditions. I can also disturb myself with my mind blown from the irrational beliefs I maintain. Personally, I’ll choose the former rather than the latter.

How about you? Or, asked in the style of the late DJ Screw, how-how-how-how about-bout-bout-bout y-y-y-y-you-you?

Keep in mind that three of the five men featured on “One Day” are no longer among the living. Will you waste the remaining days of your life by being fearful of death, brought on by self-disturbing beliefs, or will you unconditionally accept the reality of life AND death?

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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