Wednesday, 4 July 2012

On Being a Turd!

Albert Ellis, creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy was renowned for his turn of colourful phrase in his illustrious lifetime. Consider the following utterance, used to illustrate his idea of conditional self-acceptance (CSA).

“I am a turd for acting turdily, as I must not. And I'll always be this way, and I'll never succeed" Albert Ellis

Probably expressed at a time and place when etiquette would have demanded a little more reserve and attention to protocol he was practicing unconditional self-acceptance. ‘If they don’t like me, too damn bad! I accept myself anyway’ I can hear him say. He didn’t need the approval of people in the room though he may have desired it. If they took umbrage at his colourful language it would have been an opportunity to point out that their ‘oughting’ ‘shoulding’ and ‘musting’ was causing it, not him.

Ellis used humour on many different levels to get his point across to his audience. In this case his use of the vernacular would have drawn attention immediately to his message; if you believe that acting inappropriately somehow diminishes your worth you are mistaken.

Ellis reminded us at every opportunity that we are worthwhile because we exist and how well or badly we do or how others view us cannot change that (unless we give our permission).

It stands to reason then if we are worthwhile because we are here on this planet then it is true that others are worthwhile because they also exist. Their worth is not tethered to how others view them or how well or badly they do. This, Ellis referred to as Unconditional Other Acceptance. I offer the following rework of the Little Jack Horner rhyme to illustrate Unconditional Other Acceptance.

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner
Resting reflectively
“Is my teacher a turd?”
“No that’s absurd!
She just acted turdily!”

I think Dr Ellis would have approved. 

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