Founder of Rational Emotive Therapy Dies

Many people who are familiar with the law of attraction have never heard of Dr. Albert Ellis.  Yet, in many ways he is a force behind the “feel good” teachings emphasized in many law of attraction books.  And, after 93 years of tremendous service, Dr. Ellis passed away July 24, 2007.

Why should you know about Dr. Ellis?  Because his pioneering work of Rational Emotive Therapy developed primarily in the 1950’s laid the ground work for many of the techniques later adapted by those who follow law of attraction teachings, whether those law of attraction teachers are aware of his work or not.

How did I become aware of Dr. Ellis?  During my the early 1980’s while being trained in my first Master’s in Marriage, Family, Therapy I was keenly interested in Dr. Ellis’s approach.  What is Rational Emotive Therapy?  To state it simply, it helps you challenge the beliefs underlying your emotional states, and helps you create more rational (or functional/ healthy) beliefs that can help you stay in a more positive mood!  As the founder of Cognitive Therapy, which has been a foundational method I have used with many clients, I can’t say enough about my admiration for the tremendous contribution of this incredible man.  What a service he offered.  And what a joy to have been trained so many years ago in his approach!  Dr. Ellis wrote a number of books but here are two of my favorites that fit a low with my philosophy put forward in Beyond the Secret

How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything: Yes, Anything
Albert Ellis (Note: This book is in agreement with statements I make in Beyond the Secret that there are no good and bad feelings and that it is important to feel all your feelings, but to be at choice regarding how you emote them.  Read Chapter One of this book on to get an idea why Dr. Ellis’s work developed over fifty years ago is still in my opinion so lucid and worthwhile compared to many books on the market now).

You might also want to check out The Myth of Self-Esteem.  Here is a summary of that book.  Book Description: Many psychologists preach the importance of self-esteem, but on closer analysis the meaning of self-esteem often amounts to little more than basing our sense of self-worth on the success of our achievements or relationships. In this insightful exploration of true self-acceptance, Albert Ellis criticizes the traditional definition of self-esteem, calling it conditional self-acceptance—i.e., we feel good about ourselves only on condition that we fulfill certain ambitions and personal desires. Ellis proposes instead Unconditional Self-Acceptance (U.S.A.)—learning to appreciate our unique personalities no matter what good or bad actions we do or how successful our relationships turn out to be. This more realistic approach, Ellis points out, helps us to avoid the common pitfall of failing to live up to our (often unrealistic) expectations and the consequent feelings of self-denigration, low esteem, and depression, which impede our ability to tackle life’s challenges.

Ellis provides a historical review of the concepts of self-esteem and self-acceptance, examining the thinking of great religious teachers, philosophers, and psychologists—including Lao Tsu, Jesus, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Buber, Heidegger, Sartre, Tillich, D.T. Suzuki, the Dalai Lama, Carl Rogers, and Nathaniel Branden, among others. He then provides exercises for training oneself to change self-defeating habits to the healthy, positive approach of self-acceptance. These include specific thinking techniques as well as emotive and behavioral exercises. He concludes by stressing that unconditional self-acceptance is the basis for establishing healthy relationships with others, through Unconditional Other-Acceptance (UOA) and a total philosophy of life anchored in Unconditional Life-Acceptance (ULA).

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