4 Universal Truths to Counter Your Emotional Problems

Use insights from your life experience to curb disturbed thinking.

Posted Apr 06, 2020

Four universal truths integral to your daily experience can uproot common psychological problems.

Problem 1: When you were fired or failed to stay on your diet you told yourself: "This proves I'm a no good failure, a sub-human."  Your belief caused you anxiety, guilt, hurt, or depression.

Universal truth: You only and always remain a human, never less, or a god or devil. You are never good or bad in toto simply an imperfect person doing things, some behaviors you or others may rate as good or as poor. Observing your humanity demonstrates you're flawed. No matter how well or poorly you do, no matter who loves or rejects you, all through this you remain a fallible human, never a great or shameful person. Believing you're less than this contradicts your experience of yourself. With practice you can develop Unconditional Self Acceptance (USA).

Problem 2: When you were unfairly criticized you thought, "He/she is a no good louse." This idea made you feel angry, resentful, or hostile.

Universal truth: All you see around you are flawed humans acting, doing, and performing, at times kindly and fairly, other times rottenly or unfairly. You don't see lice or vermin wearing shoes and socks, only imperfect humans. With practice you can develop Unconditional Other Acceptance (UOA).

Problem 3: When your many projects and attempts failed you believed, "This means my life is no good, all-bad. I'm fated to be miserable forever." This conviction led to hopelessness, procrastination, or addictions. 

Universal truth: In reality no life could be more than 100% bad just as a glass of water can't be more than 100% full. Since frustration exists on a scale from 1% to 99% (it can always be worse), this indicates nothing is truly awful, terrible, or horrible in the psychopathological sense. There are no world-ending scenarios, Heavens, or Hells on this earth. At worst, your situation may be extremely disadvantageous and disagreeable. With practice you can develop Unconditional Life Acceptance (ULA).

Problem 4: When for months you were feeling anxious and depressed you thought, "I absolutely cannot stand this discomfort, boredom, or stress." This thinking led to drowning your troubles with alcohol.

Universal truth: You can stand what you’re standing. The reality is you're facing and dealing with it poorly, but clearly you're standing it. To believe you can't stand what you're standing is self-evidently false. 

Take-homes: 

The above global conclusions (I am all bad, you are all bad, life is all bad, and I can't stand frustration) are overgeneralized fictions. No matter how execrable either the actions of a person or a situation are, there's always worse. No matter how poorly you're putting up with frustration, you're bearing it. All we have are advantages and disadvantages with our actions, others treatment of us, and life, never world-ending scenarios. 

Each truth comports with reality.  Each expresses the way of the world and the human condition. Each only requires you to think about reality as you know and have experienced it. It's self-evident you're not a demon or a deity and requires no testing or empirical examination. Since you've succeeded in keeping yourself alive you cannot be a total failure. No individual has magically turned into a louse. Your life can never be only no good now or forever since existence is an unfolding, continually changing process. You can stand what you're standing. These observations are undeniable and necessarily true.

When you make demands on yourself, others, or your situation and engage in absolutistic thinking contradicting your experience, you conflict with reality and create unnecessary psychological disturbance for yourself.

References

Edelstein, M.R., & Steele, D.R. (2019). Three Minute Therapy. San Francisco, CA: Gallatin House.

Ellis, A. (2005). The Myth of Self-Esteem. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.