“Men are not disturbed by things, but by their view of things” (Epictetus)

One could also say that people are not disturbed by things, but that they disturb themselves by holding rigid and extreme beliefs about things. Psychologist Albert Ellis said that rigid beliefs, which often come the form of musts, absolute shoulds, have to’s, got to’s, etc., are at the very core of psychological disturbances.

Sometimes it is is helpful to remind ourselved that what troubles us most is often not the objective reality, but our unhealthy thoughts about what is happening to us.

Here some examples of healthy and unhealthy interpretations of things that happen or don’t happen to us


“X must happen”

“It would be terrible if x happens”

“I could not bear it if x happens”


“I would like x to happen, but it does not have to be the way I want it to be”

“It would be bad, but not terrible, if x happens”

“It would be difficult to bear if x happens, but I could bear it and it would be worth it to me to do so”


(This post was inspired by the journal article “Resilience and Rationality” by Windy Dryden published 2007)