Pamela Garcy, PhD View Entire Blog

Improve Your Relationships

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), one of the types of therapy I use with clients, offers unique philosophical tenets to help you to work toward greater mental wellbeing and better relationships.

A foundational principle of REBT is that of Acceptance; the three types emphasized are Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA), Unconditional Other Acceptance (UOA) and Unconditional Life Acceptance (ULA). Ellis said that vigorously working on these forms of acceptance will often lead to greater mental wellbeing. When you feel better emotionally and act better as a result, your chances of creating and sustaining fulfilling relationships improve.

What is acceptance?

Acceptance is the act of acknowledging reality. In this act of acknowledgment, you stop arguing with reality, even if only for a moment. In that moment, you recognize the way things are, whether you like them or not. You simply stop pretending that you can change reality into the fantasy you prefer; instead you receive the truth of what is. In the moment of acceptance, you often gain perspective and clarity.

Is acceptance giving up?

Sometimes people confuse acceptance with resignation, but acceptance does not mean that you are giving up. It simply means that you are viewing yourself, others, or the situation with objectivity prior to taking action toward your desired outcome.

Does accepting others mean that you agree with them or like their behavior?

Some people confuse acceptance with liking or agreement. Just because you accept someone, it doesn’t have to mean you like his or her behavior, or that you agree with him or her.

What is the advantage of practicing acceptance?

Once you accept what is, you feel emotionally freer, enabling you to make useful changes which move you closer to your goals. In contrast, when you fight against what is, you are caught in an emotionally draining battle as you hold onto an image that you demand, pretending that life must subscribe to your fantasy. In this state of struggle, you may lose objectivity and effectiveness.

How can you begin to use these three types of acceptance to improve your relationships?

When you practice Unconditional Self-Acceptance (USA), you work to maintain an unwavering sense of self-understanding and attempt to view yourself in a compassionate light. Saying, “It is bad,” rather than saying, “I am bad,” can help you to remember to use USA. USA can help you personally, because you will feel less depressed, guilty, and ashamed; it can help your relationships because you will not be caught in a cycle of depending upon others to feel okay about you, thereby reducing conflicts and creating greater objectivity in your responses.

When you adopt Unconditional Other Acceptance (UOA), you acknowledge that, whether or not you like or agree with your partner, your partner is feeling and behaving as he or she does for a reason that has validity to him or her. UOA allows you to recognize the decision to change a behavior is ultimately your partner’s. So, when you partner attempts to change a behavior to help the relationship, UOA allows you to appreciate the change. Overall, UOA allows you to begin to work in the present toward a different future.

When you adopt the practice of Unconditional Life Acceptance (ULA), you appreciate that disagreements, hassles, conflict, and stress are natural parts of most relationships. Accepting this will free you to work toward mutually agreeable decisions.

It is time to get help if one or both of you are caught in a vicious cycle of nonacceptance. Call Dr. Garcy now to schedule your appointment at (972) 248-3861. Also check out her books on amazon.com.