Rational Emotive Therapy

I hope this one takes a weight off your shoulders

Take this quiz and you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Therapy, R.E.T., starting in the 1950s. It has steadily gained acceptance in the world of psychology as some of Freud’s ideas have receded.

The R.E.T Quiz

  1. love-slob
    1. I must be loved by significant others for almost everything I do.
    2. I concentrate on accepting myself unconditionally, on winning approval for practical purposes, and on loving rather than on being loved.

  2. perfectionist
    1. we should be thoroughly competent, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects or talented in some important area.
    2. we would better do rather than always need to do well, and accept our self as a quite imperfect creature, who has general human limitations and specific fallibilities.

  3. When people act to hurt others,
    1. They must not. Their acts are awful or wicked, and the people who perform such acts should be severely damned as bad, wicked.
    2. Certain acts are self-defeating or antisocial, and the people who perform such acts are behaving stupidly, ignorantly, or neurotically, and would be better helped to change. People's poor behaviors do not make them rotten individuals.

  4. When things don’t come out the way we like, when you are frustrated or treated unfairly,
    1. it is horrible.
    2. it is too bad; we better try to change or control bad conditions so that they become more satisfactory, and, if that is not possible, we had better temporarily accept and gracefully lump their existence.

  5. making unreasonable demands
    1. We must have certain and perfect control over things.
    2. The world is full of improbability and chance and we can still enjoy life despite this.

  6. When you have pressure and difficult experiences,
    1. We have virtually no control over our emotions and we cannot help feeling disturbed about things
    2. We have real control over our destructive emotions if we choose to work at changing the “musturbatory” hypotheses which we often employ to create them.

  7. If something is or may be dangerous or fearsome
    1. we should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it and frantically try to escape it.
    2. one would better frankly face it and render it non-dangerous and, when that is not possible, not dwell on it

  8. Life's difficulties and responsibilities
    1. You find it easier to avoid than to face them. You can still lead a fulfilling existence.
    2. Facing them pays off. The so-called easy way usually turns out much harder in the long run.

  9. When something once strongly affected our life
    1. it has to keep determining your feelings and behavior today.
    2. we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly-attached to or prejudiced by them.

  10. Musts.
    1. People and things absolutely must be better than they are and it is awful and horrible if you cannot change life’s grim facts to suit you.
    2. Some things I strongly prefer. Adding a "must" only serves to put un-needed and counter-productive pressure on me.

  11. C'mon, get happy
    1. Human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction.
    2. We feel happiest when we are vitally absorbed in creative pursuits, or when we are devoting ourselves to people or projects outside ourselves.

  12. ABC’s: Activating events, Beliefs, Consequences.
    1. Human misery is externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events.
    2. Neurosis is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions.

  13. Relying on a higher power.
    1. We absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than our self on which to rely.
    2. It is better to take the risks of thinking and acting less dependently.

Two other notable RET concepts

Ego: Dr. Ellis taught that low self-esteem can be solved not by high self-esteem but rather by self-acceptance. In his writings we find that the whole idea of ego is based on a flawed concept:

If we rate ourselves as better than others (high self esteem) or lower than others (low self esteem) this rating means nothing, because

  • We cannot assign an overall rating to a person
  • We therefore cannot say one person is better than another

The assertive option: We can be assertive, as distinct from aggressive, when standing up for our interests. See discussion here on the ValeTales.info website.


If any of these points highlight an irrational belief that has crept into your life, R.E.T. recommends that you employ a routine of actively disputing the belief. Write down a statement expressing the idea you want to adopt. Repeat it aloud and/or silently to yourself several times a day, affirming, impressing, internalizing the attitude you want now to hold.

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