Three musts which hold us back

Posted by Rex Alexander on Tue 26 Mar 24 in Albert Ellis, Demanding, Disguised shoulds, musterbation, musty thinking, should statements |

OK, we know that REBT emphasizes various types of demands, including but not limited to, shoulds, oughts and musts, as well as a number of what I refer to as  disguised shoulds typically insincere  “Why?” questions.

And, of course, while the number three is sort of catchy,  there is nothing magic about it..  It could just as easily be five or eight or thirteen.  So, while the three musts Dr. Ellis presents may be the most important or the most typical ones, there are many others and many variations. The important thing to understand is the demandingness, and the degree of emotional charge or intensity driving the demands. So, in the beginning, it is probably more helpful, I think, to avoid the must words altogether. It is a good exercise and a good discipline that won’t hurt you, and will help you to understand how troublesome these words can be. However, after a period of time, you will learn that there are innocuous uses of these words depending on their function and lack of emotional charge. But for now, treat them as if they were a particularly nasty strain of poison ivy!





Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: It Works for Me – It Can Work for You
by Albert Ellis

Albert Ellis, the renowned creator of one of the most successful forms of psychotherapy — Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) — offers this candid self-assessment, which reveals how he overcame his own mental and physical problems using the techniques of REBT. Part memoir and part self-help guide, this very personal story traces the private struggles that Ellis faced from early childhood to well into his adult life. Whether you are already familiar with Ellis’s many best-selling psychology books or are discovering his work for the first time, you will gain many insights into how to deal with your problems by seeing how Ellis learned to cope with his own serious challenges.

In his early life, Ellis was faced with a major physical disability, chronic nephritis, which plagued him from age five to nine and led to hospitalization. This experience then caused the emotional reaction of separation anxiety. At this time he also suffered from severe, migraine-like headaches, which persisted into his forties. Later in life, he realized that some of his emotional upset was the result of initially taking parental neglect too seriously. Active and energetic by nature, he gradually learned that the best way to cope with any problem, physical or emotional, was to stop “catastrophizing” and to do something to correct it.

As Ellis points out in all of his work, when faced with adversity, we must realize that we have a real choice, either to think rationally about the problem or to react irrationally. The first choice leads to healthy consequences—normal emotions such as sorrow, regret, frustration, or annoyance, which are justifiable reactions to troubling situations. The second choice leads to the unhealthy consequences of anxiety, depression, rage, and low self-esteem. When we recognize irrational beliefs as such, we must then use our reason to dispute their validity. Ellis goes on to describe how these techniques helped him to cope with many other adult emotional problems, including failure in love affairs, shame, anger, distress over his parents’ divorce, stress from others’ reactions to his atheistic convictions, and upset due to his attitudes about academic and professional setbacks.

Honest and unflinching yet always positive and forward-looking, Ellis demonstrates how to gain and grow from trying experiences through rational thinking.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: It Works for Me – It Can Work for You



Please observe your interactions for a day or two while thinking about the must words, and avoiding using them, noticing how other people use them in print and in speech.  Then for each of the three musts,  write down one reason/explanation of why REBT regards them as troublesome, unhealthy, irrational and unhelpful.

Then share here with you REBT-Mates.

I look forward to seeing how many different explanations we get and how deep they go.



All the best,




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Originally posted 2017-06-03 04:17:41.

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