OK Everybody. Welcome to the Friday Night Workshop, which I've been doing for forty years. Curing everybody in town, one person at a time.
[The first participant is a young Lebanese man, about 18-22 years old, who attempted suicide over the summer and is now under psychiatric care]
OK, "Jim", what's going on?
I tried to commit suicide in August. I had a lot of different stuff going on -school pressure, getting into arguments and fights with my cousin, uncertainties...a lot of stuff.
Life isn't worth living.
Arguing and fighting alot...
Why cant you accept YOU, "Jim", with your foolish BEHAVIOR? Damning the whole for one part - isn't that silly? You've done many good and bad things...
Can I tell you a new part?
Tell me all your crimes.
I flirted with a married woman.
Why is that wrong? Her husband won't like it...
Because you're not supposed to do that.
In REBT, We have the A-B-Cs of disturbance, where the B's stand for your beliefs or the Bullshit we tell ourselves.
I also was in jail.
I refused to give a police officer my identification, and spent a night in jail.
Let's reverse roles. what would you say to me to talk me out of my bullshit if I was you?
That you do many good and bad things,and you could still be a good person even if you do bad things.
You're saying "I should not, must not do them".
There's a stigma attatched to jail.
We all do bad acts, but we're not worms, lice or shit, because we do millions of acts in our lifetimes. Some are good, some are bad, and many are neutral.
I was also in a mental hospital after my suicide attempt, and people at school might know about it
Say 'Yes, that was an error. I learned from that error not to make similar errors in the future".
I'm going to show you our Rational-Emotive imagery exercise. I want you to imagine that everybody knows you tried to commit suicide - they all say you are no good slob and an idiot, and they blame you for it.
Vividly imagine it...how do you feel? Ashamed? Get in touch with it. Feel it low down. Depressed. Feel it
Feel it. Yes.
Don't suppress, don't repress- don't avoid let yourself feel it
[note: Dr. Ellis spent an unusually long amount of time with "Jim" to make sure he was really feeling shame and depression ]
Now stop. Say "It's stupid feeling ashamed. I don't HAVE to put myself down. Feel healthy sorrow, regret, dissappointment. Tell me when you can change your feelings to dissapointment. Did you do it?
"What did you say to yourself?
I did a stupid act, but I'm not a stupid person.
Luckily they put me in a hospital and I got helped. Now, you have to make it very conscious - solid, not weak. What do you like to do for enjoyment?
Work out in the Gym - but I'm afraid to go.
No going to the Gym until AFTER you do the Rational-Emotive imagery every day for thirty days. Not before. What do you DISLIKE doing?
I don't know... picking up... cleaning up.
OK. Every time you don't do the imagery excercise, you clean up your house. And if your house is clean, you go next door and clean up their house.
I want to go back to Lebanon eventually, but they've heard about what happened to me. These things, like being in jail and being hospitalized, are a stigma in my culture.
You say, "My culture has good and bad aspects. I will choose to keep the good aspects of my culture but disagree or not follow the bad aspects.
[Audience participation followed. Among many suggestions (the audience was very involved in talking to "Jim"), it was pointed out that in America, it is not that big a deal to spend time in jail for such a minor offense. Several of the regular attendees recounted to "Jim" their own experiences being arrested(seemingly for civil protest and the like). Also several people pointed out that they thought "Jim" seemed a fine young man who was very brave and honest, and they appreciated him volunteering to speak openly.One man related his own struggles with mental illness.The issue about being afraid to go to the gym, which doctor Ellis let drop, was picked up by another participant.]
[The second participant, "Jill", is a thirty three year old woman, born in Hong Kong, but living in America at present - away from her husband of less than a year. Debbie Joffee was not sure if "Jill" could participate because of her accent, but after talking to her for a few minutes, Debbie decided that her accent was not too strong for Dr. Ellis to understand. However, it turned out that Debbie had to do a lot of restating the questions to Albert. This worked out well, because "Jill" had some issues that, while seemingly minor at the beginning of her participation, turned out quite interesting once she and Dr. Ellis engaged in discussion.]
My problem is fear.
Fear of what?
Not doing the things most significant to me.
What stops you?
Because I'm a free bird, I like to do different things. I'm happy, but not deep happy.I don't know what the important thing is. Everything I do is shallow..can't find the important things...
I say some things are shallow, so discard them. Do the important things. Take a chance on figuring out which is which.
The important things seem boring, and take a lot of patience...
Some do. Why not try them? If you crash, you crash.
The most important thing - I got married..
That's somewhat important.
After one month I left my husband in Hong Kong...came to the U.S. to have fun.
But maybe husband and child is most important. Normal married life is boring and regular.
What's so awful about a boring marriage?
Debbie: She has an allergy to 'boring'
To fart around is worse than boredom. You will get nowhere
I might regret it [marriage].
Maybe, maybe not - we'll wait 50 years and see
I'm worried because I'm getting older and soon it may be too late [for a child]
If you never have a child, he'll never be a murderer.Or if you do, he could become a good murderer,and commit better and better murders.
That's shallow, saying he could be a murderer.
It's very deep if you have the experience. Now you're not having it, and THAT'S shallow. Say, "I don't NEED a GUARANTEE that I will make the right choice"
No, I need a guarantee.
I don't have one, except if you continue you will miss out and be miserable.
It's like I want A, B, and C - but they conflict with each other.
That's too unfucking bad. If you try enough things, you will find several that work for you.The greatest experience you can have is DISCOVERING.
Baby and family = sacrifice.
Maybe - but you may have gains; sacrifice here, gain over there. If you sit on your ass, you'll get a fat ass. What's so horrible about taking chances?
Lots of problems but lots of satisfactions. You can have satisfaction by working through the problems.
Rational Emotive imagery. Imagine yourself being criticised for not having a child.
It's OK, it's none of their business...
You care too much....
I think there's a right way and a wrong way...
Risk it! You could enjoy the child and each murder if you are determined
Every child should do something significant in life.
Why MUST every child do something significant?
If not...then it doesn't matter if it exists....
So it doesn't matter...if most of us exist.
It should serve a purpose, or it's meaningless...
Why? Millions of people serve no purpose whatsoever.
Audience member: Like Me! I serve no purpose! [laughter]
Some people who serve no purpose are happier than you are! Just live - you will find a purpose. If it's not a good or great purpose - TOUGH SHIT!
[audience participation at this point]
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have tried, to the best of my ability, to provide an accurate account of the workshop, through copious notes taken at the event. At some points, I got so engrossed in the discussion, particularly "Jill's", that I briefly stopped my note taking from time to time. If there are any parts of "Jill's" discussion that seem a bit disjointed, the fault lies in my reporting and not in Dr. Ellis' presentation. ]
Danny, I truly enjoy your reports. After reading them, I feel inspired to work more forcefully on my daily REBT.
I've had some problems that could be fodder for awfulizing if I let my thinking get sloppy and irrational. By using REBT, it's become easy to view a major inconvenience (flooding caused by heavy rains) as just that --- an inconvenience --- rather than a major catastrophe. Yeah, floods literally suck mud. But this isn't Kurricane Katrina; it's not even bad enough to have a name, except Heavy Winter Rain That Keeps Coming. I'm thinking of all that mud as revitalizing my gardens in the same way the Nile kept the valleys fertile for centuries.
It's also helped me not to awfulize a bad medical diagnosis in a beloved family member. As corny as it sounds, these weekly reports -- the lessons from Al -- help me get up each day feeling glad to be alive and sharing time with loved ones. There are no guarantees in life, except the quarantee that pity parties bring on more self-pity. That's not much fun! REBT has been the key to enjoying small daily pleasures, learning how to add them together, and ... damn, it's a pretty good life!
There was a part of your report that I loved. Debbie not only worked as Al's hearing assistant, but she also made sure that "Jill", who was using English as a second language, could participate in the the FNW. That was great. Debbie provides an invaluable service to Al and to the participants.
Thanks for another great report!
|QUOTE (Gayle @ Jan 23 2006, 07:42 AM)|
| . As corny as it sounds, these weekly reports -- the lessons from Al -- help me get up each day feeling glad to be alive and sharing time with loved ones. |
Believe it or not, Gayle, I use them the same way myself.
In fact, I reffered back to one two days ago to help myself work through something.
Glad you are enjoying them.
These are great, I missed this week's FNW, it's good to be able to keep in touch. BUT I would propose that the real names of the volunteers not be used. Keep up the good work.
The names of the volunteers in the report are all pseudonyms.
These reports from the FNW are very helpful, and I know we all hope to continue to get regular reports from the FNW, as it gives us a taste of the good work that Al is still doing.
Keep up the good work Danny!
FRIDAY NIGHT WORKSHOP – REPORT BY DEBBIE JOFFE
Friday 20th January 2005
Debbie Joffe, Albert Ellis's wife, sent in the following report:
"The attendance tonight was reasonable, and Al - as usual - worked masterfully with the 2 volunteers who came up from the audience for counseling help.
"The first volunteer started off by disclosing literal life/death issues, then other issues were presented - by the end of the session this person appeared to have a much lighter and healthier perspective. Some of the audience members’ comments to this individual were beautifully compassionate and encouraging. Empathizing with others is, in my opinion, very healthy for the heart of both the person receiving the caring attention
- AND for the one giving it. Both - And.
"Lately Al has been talking about how often life contains contradictory elements - the 'both/and’, not the 'either/or’, phenomenon. This issue strongly applied to the second volunteer, who hopefully will strongly and often contemplate the gems that Al shared.
"Attendees appear to enjoy staying for a while after Al leaves, enjoying the refreshments and talking with one another. That's all for now folks! Best wishes to supporters everywhere from Al and I".