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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Simplifying Unconditional Acceptance

Updated: Apr 8

 

Admittedly, when I first discovered the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) technique of unconditional acceptance (UA), I thought it was some form of hippie-dippie nonsense— of, relating to, or reflecting the far-out values of those who subscribe to alternative lifestyles (outside the norm for a given culture).

 

Whereas “unconditional” relates to that which is not subject to conditions (bringing something into the desired state for use), “acceptance” relates to the action of consenting to receive or undertake something (giving admittance or approval).

 

Therefore, when I learned of UA, I placed a rigid condition on myself not to receive or approve of this psychotherapeutic technique. As such, I developed an irrational belief about the practice – distrust in REBT that was neither logical nor reasonable.

 

I’ve since learned not to use inflexible assumptions of that sort, because unhelpful beliefs contribute to the experience of self-disturbance. As an example, when I irrationally labeled UA as “hippie-dippie nonsense,” my unreasonable belief led to the outcome of disgust.

 

Now, I value the ability to rationally resolve the consequence of self-disturbing beliefs regarding UA. For context, REBT theory proposes use of unconditional self-acceptance (USA), unconditional other-acceptance (UOA), and unconditional life-acceptance (ULA).

 

In simple terms, USA begins with acknowledging truth – I am a fallible human being. Likewise, when considering whether or not I have full control or influence over myself, I understand that I have limited ability to impact many aspects of my life.

 

For instance, I can’t fully control my thoughts any more than I can fully control my breathing. I may be able to influence the disruption of thoughts and breathing, though when I direct my focus elsewhere these elements return to an automatic function over which I don’t have full control or influence.

 

Similarly, UOA determines that since I’m inescapably fallible, other people are also inherently flawed. Additionally, since I don’t have full control over myself, I likely have no actual control over others.

 

Therefore, I may have some influence regarding other people. As an example, I can suggest that people lower their voices in a library, though they have their own values and beliefs which impact their behavior, so they may not do as I suggest.

 

Correspondingly, ULA concludes that since I can only control myself and have little influence over others, I likely have no control and exceedingly limited influence over most matters of this imperfect life. In fact, what little influence I may have is so inconsequential that it may as well not exist at all.

 

For instance, I can’t control the past though I may be able to influence the future. After all, time itself is within the realm of one’s imagination. As an example, I imagine that in a week from now I will accomplish a goal.

 

Although I may take steps towards achieving that goal, I can’t control or influence unknown variables which may impede my progress (i.e., I may die before my goal is realized). As such, my imagination of some future time is a form of illusion over which I have no control and exceedingly limited influence.

 

Recently, I discussed UA with a client and I was asked about the limits of its utility. The challenge was presented something to the effect of, “What about rape? Do you unconditionally accept rape?”

 

I genuinely appreciate when clients use disputation in our sessions, as was the case with the individual who challenged my advocacy for UA, because I’m then afforded an opportunity to use psychoeducation to enrich our sessions. Hopefully, my response to the client will also benefit the reader.

 

I stated that while I may detest the act of rape, I only have control over myself. Therefore, I don’t rape. Moreover, I’d prefer that other people didn’t rape. However, not everyone shares my values or beliefs. Consequently, some people will commit the crime of rape.

 

Furthermore, and even though I may despise that this is the case, rape existed long before me and will likely carry on long after I’m dead. When expressing my position, I offered the client to dispute the truthiness of my stance, to which I received no challenge.

 

I then put forth the argument that in order to keep from disturbing myself with beliefs about my lack of control and influence over others and life, I use UOA and ULA. Noteworthy, practice of these REBT elements isn’t about liking or loving that something like rape exists.

 

Rather, it’s about disabusing myself of the illusion regarding what control and influence I have over the act of rape when it comes to others and life. As such, it isn’t that I’m promoting tolerance and acceptance of rape itself – though I’m advocating a resolution to self-disturbance concerning unhelpful beliefs about my dominion and leverage over rapists.

 

Therefore, I unconditionally accept that – aside from only myself – I’m powerless when it comes to rape. As such, I exercise rational compassion for people who are victimized by this heinous crime, though I’m not going to upset myself about my powerlessness regarding the issue.

 

Simplifying UA herein, I hope that the reader understands this useful REBT technique. If you’d like to know more about how to stop disturbing yourself, I’m here to help. Even if you renounce USA, UOA, and ULA, while considering me a scoundrel for practicing UA in regards to rape, I unconditionally accept this as a possible outcome of your beliefs.

 

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:

 

Adisa, A. (2024, March 12). /imagine prompt: Realistic [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from https://playground.com/post/imagine-prompt-realistic-personality-illustrate-a-figur-cltoom5ss014ss601xnk3j514

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

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/circle-of-concern

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

Hollings, D. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/human-fallibility

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2022, November 10). Labeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/labeling

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

Hollings, D. (2022, December 9). Like it, love it, accept it. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/like-it-love-it-accept-it

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2022, October 22). On empathy. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-empathy

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-truth

Hollings, D. (2024, January 1). Psychoeducation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/psychoeducation

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. (2024, January 4). Rigid vs. rigorous. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rigid-vs-rigorous

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

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

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 11). Unconditional life-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-life-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, February 25). Unconditional other-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-other-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 1). Unconditional self-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-self-acceptance

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