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Achieving without being too hard on oneself: the REBT solution

Some days ago we were talking about achieving and being driven... Without being too hard on oneself.

Is it possible?
And if so, how?

I really liked Ellis' approach and his REBT therapy.

I quote one brief passage:

How do you achieve without self-hating?
By not giving up your preference for achieving your goals, but eliminating your demands and musts.

As long as you tell yourself that “you would really like to achieve X, but you don’t have to,’ you’ll retain your task-perfectionism but not your self-perfectionism.”

I think this is so important than we need to stress it further:

Seek task-perfectionism, but not self-perfectionism.

No matter how bad your task turns out to be, you still accept yourself. And the converse is true: no matter how good your task turns out to be, you still don’t think you’re “the best”, because otherwise at the next failure, you’ll be a failure again.
This is the basis of “antifragile ego”.

Full summary here:

How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable

One of the best books on mental control I have read so far.

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the link for the full summary is missing

Thank you, Stef! Funny it was there when I edited, but as a bullet point it wasn't appearing. Now fixed anyway.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

REBT is great. I find that it combines empowerment and warmth in a strong way, combining Stoic warriorhood and Christian love. At the same time, I have some reservations as well, which have to do with the difference between Stoicism and Christianity on the one hand, and Aristotle on the other.


Anyway, the following page uses REBT to come up with good ways of dealing with conflict situations in a win-win way. Have a look:



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Lucio BuffalmanoNoLimits

Hey Guys,


Interesting points there.


I'm going through the book right now and am finding it ultra insightful.


One of my sticking points in social skills is developing an antifragile ego. And thanks to this book, I've found that grandious thinking has had lots of responsibility for my sometimes unjustified anxiety.

Of course, the paradox and doubt remains : will REBT take away some ambition to achieve ?

But again, I hope and am convinced that REBT will get you in a better place than grandious thinking, for the philosophy behind it makes a lot of sense.

In other words,  I speculate that even when achievement is the primary goal, for most people, thinking the REBT way is better than thinking like Michael Jordan and Ronaldo, which most often than not puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on ya.


What do you guys think ?

Anyway, great book recommandation and glad to see a few of you have had great results with REBT.

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Lucio Buffalmano

I agree with that.

I do not consider myself neither an expert nor advanced in the mental side of self-empowerment, but I've still taken big strides.

And my improvement in antifragile ego, emotional detachment, and dropping grandiose thinking only made me more resilient, effective, and productive.

And glad to see you're finding it beneficial.


Not all top achievers put a lot of pressure on themselves.

Many instead have that detached mentality already, and I think that can often help, especially in sports where mistakes have higher costs.

For example, look at the stats of motorbike racer Giacomo Agostini. From 1968 to 1971 he won every single race he raced in.
From the outside, for anyone who knows the sport, that screams "unbeatable".
But when asked about his records, he says "I'm glad my records still stand, but records are meant to be broken". Even though it's most likely he'll go his whole lifetime -and a few lifetimes more- without anyone getting even close to his record.

Same thing for motorbike racer Valentino Rossi, who almost single-handedly took the sport from small niche to TV-level popular.
Now that he retired he didn't spend many words on his epoch-making races and overtakes, but said how he will miss the fun of racing. And how "he always did his best" to remain on top.

Or take Fedor Emilianenko, top MMA fighter whom some consider the best heavyweight ever. He also seems impervious to his own legend.
He just walks in the ring and fights.
And because he never drank his own kool-aid -and because of his emotional detachment- he is most likely "free to lose", while still maintaining mental power and confidence/self-esteem.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I completely agree that putting pressure on yourself does more harm than good when it comes to achievement, and process enjoyment.

Phil Jackson was one of the first to understand this and to insist on the concept of staying present and not defusing pressure before the games.

We all saw where that lead the Chicago Bulls.

To recap, the work one needs to do with REBT is one of maximizing ambition without associating achievement to your value as a person ( as you mentioned at the beginning of the post ).

Such a skill can take time to master but generates results from the get go for those of us who aim high and subconsciously used to believe that suffering and pressure helped with achievement.

PS:  on a second note, I’m starting to think that for most of us, an anti fragile ego  and assertiveness might act as meta skills to power dynamics mastery.

of course meta skill does not mean that these skills are all you need. But in Pareto rule terms, I’m thinking that might be the case.

what do you guys think of this ? Any of you did some thinking over this topic ?

hope your summer is going awesome !


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Mitch White