Today’s song is ‘I Can’t Stand It’. This song was the first single from Eric Clapton’s 1981 album ‘Another Ticket’. ‘All Music’ critic Matthew Greenwald recalls the song as "one of Eric Clapton's biggest hits from the early '80s". He also went on to praise the driving tempo of the song and the superb guitar playing.
Besides reaching Number 10 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart, the song was also the first Number 1 on ‘Billboard’s Top Tracks’ chart for rock songs, which debuted in March 1981. It stayed at the summit for two weeks. The song reached Number 15 in Canada. By 1981, ‘Broadcast Music, Incorp.’ measured more than one million broadcasts of the song, earning Clapton a special recognition certificate.
Working as a Probation Officer with Behaviour Modification methods between 1970 and the mid-1990s, I came across the work of an American behaviourist called Albert Ellis whose work was to greatly enhance the work I was doing with clients that displayed entrenched problematic behaviour. Ellis was creating a whole lot of positive waves within the psychological and psychiatric schools of thought within the many diverse fields of American therapists and other group workers.
Albert Ellis founded much of his work around his theoretical viewpoint that instead of having problems come into one’s life, people invariably invite problematic behaviour into their own bodies, which then go on to infiltrate and brainwash their minds before negatively influencing all thinking and controlling ultimate response patterns. This is reportedly achieved by inviting into one’s mind ‘irrational beliefs’; a few of which are harmless but most of which are very harmful to our general disposition, our health, hope and happiness levels.
According to the work and lifetime research of Albert Ellis, any emotional disturbance one ever experiences (usually occurring after some traumatic incident such as divorce or death of a loved one etc) is unnecessarily produced and prolonged by one’s ‘Irrational Beliefs’. Through our irrational belief system, our brain punishes our bodies by saying to it, “What has happened to you, mate, is enough to kill anyone off: so feel terrible, become emotionally disturbed or massively depressed, die!”
Such Irrational beliefs can more easily be identified in our self-talk, the words we tell ourselves. Irrational self-talk always exaggerates the situation; making it much worse than it ought to be and making us feel infinitely worse than we ought to feel. Irrational self-talk always includes exaggerated words like MUST: SHOULD, SHOULDN’T and CAN’T! Such exaggerated words, intensify and exaggerate our feelings that our bodies have been instructed to produce.
When one examines one’s self-talk closely, one usually finds that one talks a great deal of harmful and self-defeating nonsense to oneself. The real harm of this negative and irrational self-talk and the holding of false beliefs is that the body is mentally instructed by the mind to either do something harmful to oneself or not do something healthy and helpful. Because the mind controls all actions and determines all manner of emotions we feel and their depth, Ellis preached that ‘irrational beliefs’ led to irrational and harmful action and produced irrational and extremely harmful emotions which disturbed and unbalanced the mind and body of the individual.
A quick rational examination of our self-talk will reveal that whenever we believe that certain things ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be said to us or happen to us, then, when they do happen, it bodes that something bad will happen in feeling consequence. It would be desirable or even nice was such things not to happen to us, but there is no universal law that says they must never happen to us! Where is it written that we should never be sad or unhappy because someone did something we didn’t like or that something happened to us we didn’t want to happen? It would be lovely if we never experienced, inconvenient, nasty or sad things happening to us, but that does not equate with saying and believing ‘they should, must not ever happen to us!’
Ellis also espoused that the precise nature of self-talk we engage in almost every minute of our day determines the precise degree of motivation we instil inside ourselves and the amount of energy we harness. Ellis also states, that all self-talk (positive or negative self-talk) will store up either positive or negative thoughts in our heads and corresponding feelings in our bodies of a positive or negative order. The result is that the energy we harness in our body, deriving from our precise self-talk, will be positive or negative energy we use to either heal or harm ourselves.
The precise nature of our self-talk also determines our motivational levels and likelihood of failure or success in what we do. If, for example, we choose to say ‘I might give up smoking’ as opposed to, ‘I will give up smoking’ or ‘I shall give up smoking’, only the latter will demand the required will power and body energy needed to stop smoking! The self-talk saying ‘I might give up smoking’ will not provide what is needed in motivational and energy terms to stop smoking; and even though the statement ‘I will give up smoking’ is more likely than the former to succeed, it is far less likely than the ‘I shall give up smoking’ statement to make you stop.
Where Albert Ellis really made a positive difference in my own understanding of problematic behaviour that led to emotional disturbance though was in his ‘I can’t stand it’ self-talk.
Imagine a person in a job who doesn’t like their employment and who repeatedly starts telling themselves “I can’t stand this job!” The more times a person impounds this irrational belief on their brain, the more likely they are to give up the job. Such a person telling themselves that ‘they cannot stand’ this type of person or that type of behaviour or this type of situation; the more times they encounter that type of person, behaviour or situation, the angrier they will become and the stronger will become their irrational belief.
The real significance about holding the belief ‘I can’t stand it’ is that the person holding this belief is talking drivel; a complete falsehood and a palpable untruth. The truth is ‘we can stand anything’ until the last breath of life leaves our lungs! Then, it’s arguable that we aren’t the one standing it, but our corpse? We may not want it, desire it, wish it or like it, but the one thing we cannot truthfully say while we are standing it is, ‘I cannot stand it! That is palpably untrue. That is drivel!
Ellis also pointed out that when we tell our bodies ‘I can’t stand it!” we are indirectly instructing our bodies ‘not to stand it’. It is times such as these that we are more likely to become emotionally disturbed or even mentally unbalanced as the brain and body try to reconcile the irreconcilable between the rational and irrational event (the difference between what is actually happening outside one’s body as compared to what we are telling ourselves is happening to us).
The long-term danger of having the irrational belief of ‘I can’t stand it’, is that we carry our beliefs from one situation to the next. You may think that you are significantly changing your situation when you change your job, girlfriend, house, marriage partner etc, but you aren’t, because the ‘I can’t stand it’ belief follows you like a shadow into your next situation.
There have been half a dozen times since my childhood when I have laid close to death, either in a hospital bed or on an operation table. I have experienced life-threatening medical conditions such as punctured lung, caved in chest (breaking all but two of my ribs), damaged spine, two heart attacks, plus half a dozen different cancers to contend with over the past seven years (one of them terminal), from within all this uncertainty that has constantly surrounded me, has been one clear certainty. Had I once told myself ‘I can’t stand it!” when my pain levels were at their worst and my continued life chances so critical to call, I wouldn’t have been able to stand it; I’d be dead now.
I tell you these facts not to impress you but to hopefully influence you never again to say those most debilitating and destructive of words, “I CAN’T STAND IT!”
I dedicate my song today to my Facebook friend, Carol L Vanzant from En Centro, California, U.S.A. whose birthday it is today. Have a lovely day, Carol and thank you for being my Facebook friend. Bill x
Love and peace Bill xxx