Book Review: Ask Albert Ellis? Straight Answers and Sound Advice from America’s Best-Known Psychologist
Self-Care After Traumatic Experience – “Keep reminding yourself that your responses are normal responses to a stressful situation. Give yourself permission to do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. Your body and mind will tell you what you need to do—your job is to listen to them”. (UCC)
Trauma has no definite definition, and any definition of trauma is like guidelines to what trauma can be because it can be viewed subjectively. Different individuals can experience something similar and have different feelings about it. “Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects o the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”(SAMHSA)
This could be an accident, losing a loved one, illness, going through a divorce, rape, or torture. All these and more can qualify as trauma, and they all have different degrees of severity.
According to Ellis’s book, when you are going through trauma, it is important to learn to accept your situation and try to change negative thoughts to healthier negative thoughts. For example, in an abusive relationship the individual involved can confront the abuser to stop the abuse, give an ultimatum, or end the relationship because ‘rationally’ staying with the abusive is a lot harder than confronting or leaving the abuser (p.122).
Prolonged child abuse can be treated by decatastrophizing, by not labeling the situation as ‘awful’ and ‘terrible’ (p.39). For example, in case of abuse, the victim can change their self-defeating ideas or beliefs to healthier negative beliefs or feeling by saying “I do not like it but not matter how much I do not like it, I can stand it and will rarely die of it” (p.40). Also, in a situation where the victim feels he or she is far from being happy, the victim replaces those feelings and belief by saying “I could still enjoy many pleasures if I allow myself” (p.41).
Finally, apply the ‘Serenity Prayer’ and the three main techniques of REBT: USA, UOA, and ULA. Accepting and loving themselves, accepting the other (abuser) and also, accepting things they can change about their lives. For example, a case of sexual abusive The individual can say, it was not my fault that I was sexually abused. My abuser was probably very disturbed when he or she abused me, and disturbed people frequently do immoral acts. People may wrongly put me down for being sexually abused, but I can live with their blaming and not take it too seriously. Its bad that I was abused, but it’s not awful, and I can lead a successful and happy life in spite of it. I’d better be cautious about having sex with anyone in the future, but not think that all men are disturbed and will try to abuse me (p.43).
The rationale is for you, the individual to find empowerment at the end of the day. To not let the events completely cripple you, but rather make you a stronger person. However, the book also recognizes that you cannot fight trauma alone. You can do your part in initiating the healing process. The series is almost ending, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to share the experience through my reviews. In the next post in this series, I will talk about how this book can facilitate changes for those seeking the advice it has to offer.
Food For Thought & Helpful Tips
-Seek professional help – Only the brave can dare to show their humanness
– Acceptance –
- Accept your situation and know that healing is possible even after your life or brain changes from the trauma
- Do not blame yourself – take responsibility if needed but do not dwell on guilt
- Forgiveness – Forgive yourself, forgive any person involved. Do not live in bitterness or regret
- Do something fun,
- surround yourself with ones you love
- Join a group therapy or a support group
- Meditation & Spiritual Practice – Feed your mind with things that are positive and meaningful
- Sleep – Give your body the rest it needs every night. A restful night gives peace and more focus for the day
- Exercise & Eat Well
- Journaling – Writing is always a great tool to draw out what the mind cannot stop thinking about or worrying about. It leads to clarity.
Reference Ellis, Albert. Ask Albert Ellis: Straight Answers and Sound Advice from Americas Best Known Psychologist. Impact Publishers, 2003.