|Someone recently wrote something to the effect that he embraces the principle of ePrime, but does not use it in ordinary conversation because it often sounds peculiar and therefore might alienate the OP.|
True enough! That is pretty much what I do, and I suspect is the reason that after experimenting ePrime in some of his early writing, Dr. Ellis abandoned it, and why the revised editions of "New Guide to Rational Living" reverted to Standard English.
However, consider the following:
1. You're an asshole! 2. You never keep appointments. 3. I feel disappointed that you missed our appointment and the previous two as well.
Clearly #1 is a no-no. It uses the "to be" verb as well as global rating.
#2 is possibly superior to #1 in that it is at least talking about SOMETHING, about behavior, about missed appointments rather than simply downing the self of the OP, but it falls apart using the vacuous word "never." Clearly not only an exaggeration, but simply untrue. If we leave it at "never" not only are we functioning in the Twilight Zone, but we rob ourselves and the OP of the opportunity to discuss the problem constructively and intelligently. When exactly does the OP miss appointments? Is it only with me? Is there something about me s/he prefers to avoid? Are the appointments in the early mornings and the OP does not function optimally at that hour? Is it only when we have to discuss taxes? Is it because there is some disturbance in the OP's life distracting him from keeping appointments? Is this a crazy making message ("I want to meet with you-I don't want to meet with you")? Or does the OP have some serious behavioral problems in terms of commitment and time management?
The answer is that until we know for sure, we just don't know what it is, and #1 and #2 rob us and the OP of communicating meaningfully about it, solving the problem, negotiating a compromise and gaining greater intimacy.
#3 is the best of the three. It avoids any use of the "to be" verb. It expresses the thought as "I" thus taking responsibility and ownership of it rather than justifying and giving it phony authority by evoking a principle or an abstraction (One must never be late!). Finally, it expresses an authentic feeling (disappointment) which immediately makes the communication richer, more authentic and intimate. In the jargon of Transactional Analysis, the conversation operates on the level of adult-adult, rather than parent-child or adult-child.
The important thing, and the real reason for this post is to point out that "I feel disappointed that you missed our appointment and the previous two as well" doesn't sound "funny." No one would know that you are "using ePrime on them!" It is exactly like "real English."
Humanists teach us to avoid using #1 & #2 because–paraphrasing fairly radically here–because it isn't "nice." It is not ethical. It's not “healthy,Ã¢â‚¬Â but they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t teach us WHY it is unhealthy.
General Semanticists teach us that labels such as "asshole" as well as the entire set of positive and negative globalizations we apply to our self and to the self of others simply do not exist. So help me, Hannah! They are not real. There just is not such things as "assholes, failures, idiots, bitches, bastards, impotent jerks, nice guys, brainiacs, queens, fags, nerds, scoundrels, troopers, 'stand up guys,' successes, hunks . . ." This set of exaggerations, abstractions, globalizations is a large one, with certain terms going in and out of fashion historically, and new ones being invented from time-to-time. The crucial issues is that they attack the core essence of identify of the OP (or of your self if directed at yourself). Usually directly attacking the "worth" or value of the OP or other essential attributes such as intelligence, sexuality, "character," and so on. When we use them as global labels "John is a failure," we are saying that John is 100% a failure, has always been a failure, and probably will never be anything but a failure. Clearly this is hugely inaccurate, unhelpful, and–which brings us to our next propositions–hurtful . Why do you suppose it is hurtful?
REBT teaches us then when we "rate" OP, it inflames our anger and contempt, creates a false sense of superiority, and causes us to behave toward the OP in unhelpful and dysfunctional ways. When we rate our self, it provokes guilt, shame and self-loathing. The so call “self esteemÃ¢â‚¬Â thing.
ePRIME, by eliminating all forms of the "to be" verb, is not a philosophy, but rather is a tool that makes if much more difficult for us to exaggerate, generalize, label, rate in the ways we have been discussing. If used in a disciplined way, it almost forces us to say #3 "I feel disappointed that you missed our appointment and the previous two as well" Therefore, it facilitates the the Humanist, General Semantics, and REBT approaches beautifully and powerfully.
So, anytime you speak authentically, take responsibility for your feelings, opinions and judgments, speak in specifics, focus on behavior rather than "self" you are indeed using ePrime whether you know it or not, whether the OP knows it or not, or whether you call it ePrime or not. In this context, ePrime helps us to use the principle Humanism, General Semantics and REBT to get a richer, more intimate more authentic communication.
As I said in an earlier post, ironic, ain't it?
Khon Kaen, Thailand
© 2018, Rex Alexander. All rights reserved.
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Originally posted 2012-12-31 03:20:25.