In rational emotive behavior therapy, therapists define "musts" or "shoulds" as irrational beliefs (or distorted thinking) that people internalize which ultimately lead to self-defeat. These type of thinking will keep you feeling bad and defeated, and keep you behaving in a way that keeps you stuck. These basic “musts” are:
I must do well and win the approval of others for my performances or else I am no good.
Other people must treat me considerately, fairly; kindly and in exactly the way that I want them to treat me. If they don’t, they are no good and they deserve to be condemned and punished.
I must get what I want, when I want it and I must not get what I don’t want. If I don’t get what I want, it’s terrible and I can’t stand it.
(Ellis, 1994, 1997, 1999; Ellis & Dryden, 1997; Ellis 7 Harper, 1997)
The more rigid these beliefs are, the more beat up and miserable you're going to feel. In therapy, you can learn how to distinguish between self-defeating and self-helping beliefs. The therapist can help you identify the belief patterns that you've been holding on to, then teach you how to challenge that thinking and replace it with more balanced, self-helping thinking with the ultimate goal of you becoming your own therapist.
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