Oh well!

Posted by Rex Alexander on Fri 21 Sep 18 in Acceptance, Disputing |

Fountain, Old, Middle Ages, Old Well, Stone, Wood

Oh well!

One of the most useful and powerful REBT-CBT disputation tools!


Hi REBT Mates!

Of course I, along with everyone else in the English speaking world, am familiar with the phrase “Oh well.” However, I never realized that is actually a useful and powerful REBT-CBT disputation tool until I heard it in that context in one of Dr. Judith Beck’s classes. Perhaps “disputation” is a bit misleading.  It is actually more related to acceptance than to the somewhat combative function of disputing. In that sense it may be more related to Buddhism/mindfulness than specifically REBT-CBT. I think it was I who coined the idea that “acceptance is the soft underbelly of REBT.”  In other words, when you are done disputing
‘A’ must not be ‘A’
, what are you left with?  That’s easy, you are left with ‘A’ is ‘A’.  That’s acceptance, baby!  This important point is often overlooked or misunderstood.

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From Collins Online Dictionary 

You say oh well to indicate that you accept a situation or that someone else should accept it, even though you or they are not very happy about it, because it is not too bad and cannot be changed.

Oh well, it could be worse.
‘I called her and she said no.’—’Oh well.’

I checked several dictionaries and the definitions are all pretty much aligned. My sense of it is; a phrase used to express acceptance and (mild) disappointment about a situation that we can’t do anything about. “Resignation” also works but it carries a negative connotation that I don’t care for.


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“Oh well” (by the way, no comma after “Oh”) is such a great tool mainly because it works. It has an effect in the sense that you can feel it working. It is readily, immediately available so it can be applied on the spot right in the midst of an upsetting experience.  It is not time-consuming and you need not go through a lot of cognitive acrobatics to apply it.

So, how does it work?  No rocket science.  When you experience an upsetting situation, preempt your automatic self-chatter about  how terrible it is, how unfair, how it mustn’t be happening, how it has ruined your whole day, etc.  And simply STOP!  Take a deep breath.  Say “Oh well!” as you let out a nice, deep sigh!

It works!

Please practice this week and post your comments here.  Or, we invite you to join us as a guest author or contributing writer and post your thoughts and experiences.

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