Profound Rational Philosophies



Profound Rational Philosophies


Albert Ellis

Freedom of Choice and Willpower

I have little choice over my heredity and many of the things that happen to me during my lifetime. I can influence but rarely control others. But I can, with hard work and practice, largely control my own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and thereby control much of my own destiny. I can decide on my own goals and purposes, give meaning to my life, and achieve much of what I want and avoid much of what I don’t want.

To change and control myself I require not only will but willpower. Willpower consists of my (1) deciding to do (or not do) something; (2) making myself determined to do it; (3) acquiring the suitable knowledge of how to do it; (4) acting on my determination and knowledge; (5) continuing to decide, to determine, to acquire suitable knowledge, and-especially-to act. My actions speak louder than words of will. No action, no willpower.

Flexible Thinking

I can largely control and limit my emotional and behavioural disturbances - especially my feelings of severe anxiety, depression, rage, worthlessness, and self-pity – by thinking on terms of preferences and desires, including strong preferences and desires, instead of absolutistic demands – especially insistent shoulds, oughts, musts, have to’s and got to’s. I’d better take many things seriously but too seriously, and make many projects important but not sacred. I can live comfortably without certainty or perfection. I will watch my tendencies to overgeneralise, carelessly label, and stereotype, and strive to be open-minded and less severely prejudiced.

Unconditional Self-acceptance

I will always accept myself as a very fallible human who will make many errors and mistakes. I will mainly choose my own goals and purposes and will only rate or evaluate my thoughts, feelings, and actions as “good” when they aid and as “bad” when they sabotage my individual and social goals. I shall not globally rate myself, my essence, my personhood, or my being. By achieving unconditional self-acceptance (USA), whether or not I perform well and whether or not I am approved by others, I shall still try to perform better and to get along with other people – not to prove my worth as a person but to enhance my efficiency and enjoyment.

Unconditional Other-acceptance

I will accept other people unconditionally, even when I deplore their behaviours with myself and with others. I will accept their human fallibility and never damn them as persons. As with myself, I shall accept the sinners but not condone their sins. I shall try to help people change their poor behaviours, and may stay away from them if they don’t; but I will not insist that they absolutely must change and will not be revengeful or vindictive if they don’t. I shall try to help people act fairly and justly but not command they absolutely have to be fair.

High Frustration Tolerance

I will acknowledge that human life is full of many troubles, difficulties, misfortunes, and injustices, and that they will often continue to prevail. I will do my best to change what I can change about these troubles, to accept (but not to like!) what I cannot change, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.


I will not define the very bad things in my life as awful, terrible, or horrible. When I insist that something is awful, I may correctly see it as unusually bad or even catastrophic -as are severe earthquakes or devastating wars. But by awfulizing I also tend to whine about poor conditions, to think that they are so bad that they absolutely must not exist, and to think they are totally ruinous and as bad as anything can be. These are all exaggerations that will not help me cope with very unfortunate events. So I’d better stop my whining and help myself cope better with even the worst Adversities.

Similarly, when I insist that I can’t stand Adversities, I imply that I will die of them or be unable to be happy at all because of them. But I won’t die and I can still find some kind of happiness. If I stop my awfulizing, my whining, and my I-can’t–stand–it-itis, I will stop making my frustrations worse than they actually are and will raise my frustration tolerance and more effectively cope with the unfortunate Activating Events of my life.

Accepting the Challenge of Less Disturbability

Because I have my own limitations and fallibilities, because other people are also far from perfect, and because life has constant dangers and misfortunes, I never will be completely undisturbed nor undisturbable. Even when I do my best to cope with Adversities, I will still tend to fall back at times to needlessly upsetting myself. So this is my great challenge – to keep working at establishing and maintaining Profound Rational Philosophies such as these and to forcefully use and revive them whenever Adversity strikes-and whenever I bring it on myself. No matter what!

Let unfortunate things happen. Let people and things plague me. Let me grow older and be more afflicted with physical ills and pain. Let me suffer real losses and sorrows. Whatever may be, I am still largely the creator and ruler of my emotional destiny. My head and body may be bloodied, but I am still determined to be unbowed. In spite of life's storms, I shall seek and find some decent shelter. But even when I occasionally don't, I shall refuse to throw up my hands and whine and whimper. My goals are to live and let live. This is the only life I am sure I will ever have. I am delighted to be alive. i am determined to stay alive and find some kinds of happiness. No matter what, no matter what! This is the greatest challenge I can take. I fully and enthusiastically accept it!

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