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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

U Don't Know Me



Of all electronic dance music (EDM), I’m most fond of the house genre. Unlike many trance or other synthesizer-laden tracks of the ‘90s, which contained minimal vocals, house music of the time often used meaningful messages.


One such song was featured on Armand van Helden’s 1998 album 2 Future 4 U, entitled “You Don’t Know Me,” though originally titled “U Don’t Know Me,” and which features the soulful vocals of Duane Harden. For this post, I’ll write from a personal perspective using different stages of my life in conjunction with the track.


In elementary school, a pastor from a church congregation I attended told me that I was sinful and needed to be baptized. Looking back, I’m uncertain about what was the most spiritually unsanitary aspect of my life—the cartoons I adored or the sketches I penciled on notebook paper.



Not only was I prompted to be fully submersed in a baptismal tank, I was urged to speak in tongues when I no idea what to utter other than gibberish. When thinking about my experience with the pastor, the hook of “U Don’t Know Me” comes to mind:


You don’t even know me

You say that I’m not living right

You don’t understand me

So why do you judge my life?



Through a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) lens, I’m not self-disturbed by beliefs about this childhood experience. Instead, I practice unconditional other-acceptance (UOA).


I reason that instead of trying to cause a child to think he was disgustingly sinful, the pastor likely believed it was an act of kindness to save as many souls as possible. Perhaps he concluded that there was minimal harm in telling me I was immoral when compared to damnation I could’ve faced in Hell.


If back then I were to have used a rigid condition by having maintained, “You don’t even know me and you shouldn’t judge my life,” my afterlife suffering would’ve been preceded by the self-induced hardship associated with my beliefs. Therefore, I’ve already forgiven the man who reasonably meant no harm at all.


As a separate matter, in adolescence I was romantically interested in girl at another church congregation I attended. However the girl’s mother ended our relationship out of fear that we would one day have “nigger babies,” because of my biracial genetic composition.



I had recently been transferred from a children’s home into the family of fellow congregational members. Rather than allowing my beliefs about childhood trauma to completely ruin my life, I was trying to improve myself. Regarding this, the first verse of “U Don’t Know Me” is relevant:


I don’t ask for nothing

I’m always holding my own

Every time I turn around, there’s something

People talking about what they don’t know

And when I try to move on up

They’re always pulling me down

I’m tired and I had enough

It’s my life and I living it now

You don’t know-oh-oh-oh


Looking back while using an REBT frame of the matter, I’m unbothered by people who’ve judged me based on my race. The mother of the girl in whom I was romantically interested can be addressed with UOA.


Moreover, I use unconditional self-acceptance (USA), because getting bent out of shape over a biracial identity I didn’t choose in the first place would be a waste of time. After all, the girl’s mother didn’t know me or what my children would look like.


Nonetheless, I have a life to live. If I want to experience a better quality of living, I can accept myself and others unconditionally. Imagine the alternative.


Suppose I was to unhelpfully believe, “Every time I turn around, there’s something—people talking about what they don’t know—and I can’t stand that I’m neither fully black nor fully white!” Without practice of USA, I would needlessly upset myself.


An additional issue worth addressing arose when assigned to the Marine Security Guard (MSG) detachment in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. One of the senior Marines with whom I lived used to bully another MSG and me.



It seemed like nothing I ever did was good enough for this guy, and he took particular umbrage with the fact that I was a non-drinker and refused to engage the services of sex workers. “I don’t like people having dirt on me if you don’t have dirty hands, too,” he said.


The Marine knew nothing of my morals or ethics, only that I was unlike each of my peers in the MSG house. Although a routine detachment assignment consisted of a 15-month post in Rio, he pulled some strings with senior members of our command and had me transferred after only 13 months.


Moreover, when I arrived at my next duty station in Lima, Peru, some of the other detachment members told me that the Rio Marine called them when I was inflight and blackballed me—ostracizing by way of spreading negative information. That made matters difficult for me in Lima.


Despite my second post being a 15-month assignment, I wound up being removed for the “good of service” after only eight months. Thinking of the Rio Marine’s behavior that started it all, the second verse of “U Don’t Know Me” comes to mind:


I always wonder why people try to hurt me

No happiness in their own lives

So they act out all their jealousy

Who are you to say that I’m living wrong?

Always telling me what to do

I decided that I gotta be strong

What makes you think that I needed you?

You don’t know me


Using REBT, I practice unconditional life acceptance (ULA) regarding the way I was treated on the MSG program. This entails setting aside unproductive requirements concerning life and admitting truth—life is imperfect, as are the situations we experience while alive.


I use UOA with the Marines of MSG, USA with myself for my shortcomings while on the MSG program, and ULA regarding the fact that I cannot go back in time to correct flawed outcomes.


Imagine if I used an unaccommodating belief like, “I always wonder why people try to hurt me. It’s probably due to no happiness in their lives. Since I’ve been done wrong by so many individuals, nobody is ever worth trusting again!”


The words “nobody” and “ever” are doing some pretty heavy lifting in that last sentence. While it would be rational to conclude that some people are occasionally worth trusting, is it reasonable to declare that “nobody is ever worth trusting again”? I argue that it isn’t.


While personal beliefs about each of these trivial examples from my own life are no longer impactful, there was a time when I upset myself quite a bit concerning these matters. In all honestly, I experienced years of fear, anger, sorrow, and disgust with use of a belief-consequence connection.


Thankfully, I now practice REBT so that I don’t self-disturb when people who don’t know me very well tend to behave as fallible humans so often do. Regarding this, the bridge of “U Don’t Know Me” is a helpful reminder for me:


Who are you?

You say I’m not living right

Anything I try to do

You haven’t walked in my shoes

I’m gonna move on

It’s my life, it’s my life [x3]


As far as I can tell, this life is all I have to live. And as the soulful lyricist Brother Ali stated in “Letter to My Countrymen,” “This is not a practice life. This is the big game we got to attack it right. Each one of us is headed for the grave.”


Dear reader, do you allow unhelpful beliefs to cause unpleasant consequences in regards to what strangers or others who barely know you have to say? If so, would you know to know more about how to say, “I’m gonna move on, because it’s my life,” rather than spending years in misery?


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 original EDM-influenced REBT psychotherapist—promoting content related to EDM, 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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