REBT vs Procrastination

Dr. Albert Ellis invented Cognitive Therapy back in the 1950s. He called it Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy(REBT). REBT is still around. Many people believe that as one type of cognitive therapy REBT is simpler, and easier for people to do on their own. Many other people believe it is better structured for being a philosophy of life the way exercise is complimentary to getting medical care when you need it. You can read more about one of the best books on REBT here

This video by Will Ross who demonstrates using REBT to combat procrastination via the example of putting off homework.

Though it doesn’t use such terms as “REBT” one of the most useful books for applying cognitive therapy to the symptom of procrastination would be “The Now Habit” by Dr. Neil Fiore.

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3 thoughts on “REBT vs Procrastination”

  1. Will Ross, the psychologist who made the video above also had some interesting comments in regard to the having to remind oneself that doing ___ “will not kill you”:


    In an essay entitled, “The Biological Basis of Human Irrationality,” Albert Ellis presented a convincing case for his view that we humans are biologically predisposed to think irrationally. This thesis is supported by evolutionary psychology.

    Although you and I were born in the 20th Century, we inherited brains that evolved thousands of years ago in an environment significantly different from modern conditions. Our brains are well-suited to living in caves and carving out a living in a hunter-gatherer existence. They are not so well-suited (although they’re adequate) for the hustle and bustle of modern culture.

    In the environment of our evolutionary adaptation (EEA), our early ancestors learned to fear discomfort because, for them, discomfort could be fatal. Failing to heed, for example, the discomfort of hunger or of the cold could lead to death. Those early humans who did not fear discomfort did not survive long enough to pass on their genes. Those who did fear discomfort survived to become the prototype of modern humans. We are their descendents in a long line of discomfort-dodgers; and we have inherited their traits.

    Doing homework is a hassle. We’re much more comfortable indulging ourselves by watching TV, playing video games, listening to music, etc. Interrupting those self-indulgent activities to do homework threatens our comfort level. And for our ancient brain, developed in that early EEA, discomfort = death.

    Much of REBT is a battle between our ability to think rationally and our ancient brain’s intolerance of discomfort. On a rational level, we know that most modern discomforts — such as tearing ourselves away from the television to do homework — are not life-threatening. But our ancient brain has not yet caught on to that idea, so forceful disputing is required.

    Our ancient brain thinks, “I can’t stand missing tonight’s episode of The Simpsons just do a stupid homework assignment.” (Notice that “I can’t stand X” is just another way of saying “X will kill me”). The REBTer, who wants to overcome his or her self-indulgence and lead a more productive lifestyle, learns to vigorously challenge and dispute the notion that s/he can’t stand the discomfort of doing homework.

    As you say, homework and being killed are two concepts that are not close. But the challenge for all of us who want to overcome self-indulgence is to convince our ancient brain of that fact.

    But don’t take my word for it. Take the 30 day challenge — if you dare. For the next 30 days, whenever you face a hassle or the prospect of discomfort, forcefully question and dispute the notion that the discomfort will kill you. My hypothesis is that if you dispute it strongly and persistently, you’ll be more productive and suffer less stress. You have nothing to lose if I’m wrong, and much to gain if I’m right. Let me know how you get on.

  2. REBT is working wonders for me: I think. Although I doubt that 30 days is enough time to change significantly, I have changed quite a bit in thirty days just by READING A Guide to Rational Living and visiting a therapist a few times. Full disclosure: I’m also on Lexapro, an anti-depressant. Still: I went from wanting to jump in front of trains to vaguely normal in the space of a month.

    If only because REBT gives you pause and makes you take the time to second guess yourself, it helps to push you past what you imagined were boundaries.

    I reccommend it to anyone who thinks pschology is voodoo and wishes for therapy based on facts and results.

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