Musterbating: Not as fun as it sounds.
We should probably welcome you to a new week and say nice things like ‘nice to have you back’. We should probably also add something pithy and amusing to update you on any new development with our book or the website. And, we should probably, at this point, start ramping up our topic for the week with a set up and then smart ass line. However, we’re buried under all these ‘shoulds’ and can barely reach the keyboard. Do us a favor? Call our local rescue people and tell them to send us some snacks and coffee. Come on. You should be nice!
Lee says: I should probably warn you that one of my favorite Psychologists is Albert Ellis. I should also tell you that Ellis developed the theory and practice of Rational Emotive Therapy. In this theory, dysfunction is created by irrational beliefs about the world, others or yourself. These beliefs manifest themselves as language, behavior and views of reality. So, you’re thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’
Some of the cool stuff Ellis talked about was the language we use. Not the potty mouth stuff I spout off every chance I get (BTW-Ellis was a potty mouth too!) but the words we use to create anxiety in us. He noted that words like ‘should’ and ‘must’ were self imposed imperatives that caused lots of negativity. ‘I should be happy’, ‘The world should be fair’, ‘I must succeed’. These words leave little wiggle room and the chances that these statements will be fulfilled are nil. Ultimately, these words would just cause colossal mind fucks. So Ellis would hammer away at a person’s ‘musterbation’ until the client realized that they caused the negative emotion and they can change it. EASY!
So here is where I should probably share some of my musterbatory activity. Here is where I should share some messed up shit that I do so that everyone feels better, right?
In my family, I am the party person. I tend to make sure things are getting together and, more specifically, I tend to cook at the get together. I feel that I should cook since my family enjoys that. I spend so much time preparing and cooking that I often miss the festivities. Then, I get pissed because if it weren’t for me, nothing would get done. So, do you see where my problem is here?
I have created this belief that all get togethers are my responsibility. I have created a series of shoulds to make sure that at the end of a party, I will be angry at the very people who I felt preferred my cooking. I make myself miserable instead of telling the family, ‘Deal with it! Chef Lee is taking a break and drinking a whiskey sour on the patio!’ I wasn’t doing this sometimes. I was doing this all the time!
Since I decided to look at this incredibly unhealthy and stupid behavior I noted some beliefs that were supporting this dysfunctional habit. I believed that putting myself in the middle of all the birthday parties and other festivities would make me invaluable to my family. I believed that my cooking made me indispensable. And, the worst of them all, I believed my family would stop inviting me if I did not heavily participate in the coordination of all social gatherings. Depressing, isn’t it?
I’m doing better. I am still going to parties but I am aware of what I am doing and choosing to participate through cooking planning. I am making an effort to let other family members do what they can to make our celebrations memorable. Sure, we’re probably going to be eating cheese logs and mini weenies but we’ll be together and I won’t be pissed.
Paul says: I love musterbating. Oh what, it’s the other thing that sounds like that that I like doing. Maybe I should read the first part of the post before I write my stuff.