Let’s look at this through an example:
Have you ever considered leaving “everything” behind and moving to another country? It’s a common fantasy and a pressure valve for all our daily tensions. Nevertheless, in some cases, what starts as simple day dreaming becomes a real idea. It may be a solution, for example to our unhappiness at work. It’s possible that we may find a better job in another country (especially taking into account the situation in Spain nowadays), with an improved salary and better life standards. But we usually don´t stop there, underneath this idea is the thought: “I will be happier there”. We may not be aware of this underlying thought even when it´s the the main motivator of our actions. Once this is out in the open, the logical thing to ask ourselves is “what makes me so unhappy here that I want to leave? And we could come to the conclusion “my work, my boss, the crisis…”
We are probably are not concious of the irrational part of our idea. This was explained by Albert Ellis (external link – opens a new window), who developed the rational emotive behavior therapy (external link – opens a new window) in the fifties. One of the irrational ideas is:
“human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events — instead of the idea that neurosis is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions”
Following our example, we could think “my job is boring and my boss is very strict and that makes me feel bad” Is that true? Is your work or your boss what creates your bad feeling or is it rather your negative view about it?
We spend our lives judging things and people “this is good and I feel good” or “this is bad and I feel bad”. Have you ever considered the posibility: “this is bad and I feel good” or better yet: “this is neither good nor bad and I can choose how I feel about it”? Have you ever considered that what makes us feel bad is not the situation itself but the negative judgement we make of it? The irrational idea is to join together the external situation with our internal reaction as if there wasn’t any other possibility.