Did you ever meet my father, Dr. Ellis?

I do not even remember when I first read about REBT [Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy], obviously it must have been long back. One relates to the ABC model very instinctively, and the experience tells us that every word of it is so true. [The ABC Model refers to three components of experience in which a person can ascertain if his or her belief system is distorted. The A is the activating event. This event is the one we encounter and objectively describe. The B is the belief, that is, what you believe is the truth about the event. The C is the consequent emotion. This is the result of the feelings that you experience as a result of the event.]

The reason for remembering it again is that I just finished reading Dr. Anjalee Joshi’s [Marathi] novel “Mee Albert Ellis.” It is one of the good books I have read in recent times. The novel is about the life of Albert Ellis, it is well researched, and it tells us how Ellis approached several dilemmas in his life. Lives of men often have similar situations and a reader will find many resonating with him.

The word ‘resonating’ reminds me – I sent an article on REBT to one of my students. She responded within an hour and said, “It seems as if the author knew me and wrote it exclusively for me!”

“Men are not disturbed by things but by the view they take of them” sums up the foundation of REBT which Epictetus articulated so well two thousand years ago. Dr. Anand Nadkarni, the eminent psychiatrist and founder of Institute for Psychological Health at Thane, organises an event called ‘Vedh’ in December every year. Three or four years ago he organised it on the theme of REBT. He has written about this event elaborately in his [Marathi] book ‘Shahanyancha Psychiatrist.’ His recorded talks [CD] are available for a nominal price and they make excellent collection. He has explained the ABC model exceedingly well quoting frequently from the teachings of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram.

The ABC model appeals to everyone, but it is not at all easy to practise. Our expectations from ourselves [and surely from others too] of consistency and perfection make the matter worse; we get discouraged easily and tend to give up our resolve of bringing about behaviour change.

In the novel, Albert Ellis says [free translation] “I have made a decision for myself – to be happy! I have realised that my happiness is, to a large extent, decided by me and not by the circumstances or other persons. I told myself that if others behaved in a manner that pleased me or circumstances were favourable, it would be a good thing to happen; but I would never assert or insist that things must happen or people must behave in a manner that makes me happy.”

Nearly forty-five years ago, I sat sulking in a corner at the party thrown by my father’s friend. I was a teenager then and I was very angry with something. On our way home my father told me that one must decide to be happy, it meant thinking and behaving differently, and that the world did not care much if I was unhappy. I finished reading the novel yesterday and read the same advice in different words. It was my father’s death anniversary!

There is, yet again, a message for me in this synchronicity!
Did you ever meet my father Dr. Albert Ellis?


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