Dr Albert Ellis in his Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture 1961 on General Semantics and Rational Emotive (Behaviour) Therapy acknowledges that Alfred Korzybski, the originator of general semantics heavily influenced his own pioneering work. Korzybski spoke of the 'is' of predication and Ellis explains this here saying that:
The notion that one 'is' good or bad is an errant one which can harm the emotional and psychological well being of the person who holds it to be true. Ellis seeks to remind us that we are human beings who can act in ways that are 'good' or 'bad' but we are not what we do.
OK Fred is not OK!
Counsellor: How’s it going?
Fred's condition of naughtiness is problematic because this is why he has been excluded from the classroom and he feels bad.
Fred has decided that his naughtiness is linked to badness. Doing is being!
Bad Fred does things the teacher doesn't like. He wants the teacher to like him because what he does is who he is.
Fred is saying that there are two of him. His sense of self worth ebbs and flows between feeling OK when others like him to feeling bad when they don't! (conditional self acceptance)
Here we are trying to get a sense of what doing is and what being is. Are they the same?
Fred is unique. It is impossible to rate his worth totally good or bad based on a particular characteristic or behaviour.
We are making a clear distinction between doing and being here.
This establishes that Freds worth is never contingent on a particular behaviour or personal quality or characteristic.
Fred is on the way to feeling better about himself but where did he get these ideas in the first place? When others judge your behaviour they connect what you do with your being or your 'essence' or as Ellis says your 'you-ness.' Who is doing this? The childs parents and teachers and other people in Freds life reinforce these ideas via the messages they send, verbally and otherwise e.g. simply by saying 'good boy' to someone who has done something well is conveying the idea that doing good equates with being good.