Hopeology

Harnessing Emotional Health Through REBT: Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis on Rational Thinking, Gratitude, and Hope

March 05, 2024 Christina McKelvy/ Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis Season 1 Episode 18
Harnessing Emotional Health Through REBT: Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis on Rational Thinking, Gratitude, and Hope
Hopeology
More Info
Hopeology
Harnessing Emotional Health Through REBT: Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis on Rational Thinking, Gratitude, and Hope
Mar 05, 2024 Season 1 Episode 18
Christina McKelvy/ Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis

Have you ever stopped to consider how your thoughts influence your emotional well-being? Join me, Christina McKelvy, along with the remarkable Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis, as we delve into the transformative world of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). In a compelling discussion, she shares her profound insights on how this pioneering cognitive approach, deeply rooted in Stoic philosophy, and pioneered by her husband, Dr. Albert Ellis can help us navigate life's tumultuous seas with greater resilience and hope.

This episode unravels the tightly wound threads of irrational thinking and its impact on our lives. Debbie guides us through the liberating shift from the chains of 'musts' and 'shoulds' to the freedom of flexible preferences, illuminating how such changes can heal our minds and foster emotional fortitude. We also celebrate the therapeutic powers of humor and emotions, essential companions in our journey toward mental health and the pursuit of a joyful existence.

Wrapping up our conversation, she shares heartwarming stories of hope that underpins her work. Her personal experiences and those of her parents who were survivors of the Holocaust, serve as a beacon, illuminating the path to improvement through persistence and gratitude. She also highlights resources for self-care and emotional management available through her website, leaving us with a poignant reminder of the abiding presence of hope in our lives. Tune in and be part of this uplifting exploration of the human spirit's capacity to thrive against all odds.

From her website: Dr Debbie Joffe Ellis is a licensed psychologist (Australia) and mental health counselor (New York), adjunct professor at Columbia University TC, and is affiliated with several major psychological associations and societies − including being a Member of the Australian Psychological Society, and an International Affiliate Member of the American Psychological Association. She has a doctorate in alternative medicine (MDAM) from the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine in affiliation with the World Health Organization, from whom she also received a gold medal (1993) in recognition of her service to the field of alternative and holistic medicine.

Dedicated to her husband, the great pioneering and remarkable psychologist Albert Ellis PhD, they worked together for several years giving public presentations and professional trainings on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), as well as collaborating on writing and research projects, until his death in 2007. She continues to present, practice and write about his groundbreaking approach of REBT.

She currently has a private practice in New York City, and also delivers lectures, workshops and seminars throughout the U.S.A. and across the globe


For more information: 

Website: www.debbiejoffeellis.com

Information on where you can find us. 

Support the Show.

Follow us on Instagram: @hopeologypodcast and the host @writerchristinamckelvy
To support the show, go to: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/hopeologypodcast

Disclaimer: The views reflected by any of the guests may not reflect the views of the podcast host. Some topics may be difficult for some viewers, so proceed at your own risk. This podcast does not replace psychotherapy or advice and is for entertainment purposes only.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever stopped to consider how your thoughts influence your emotional well-being? Join me, Christina McKelvy, along with the remarkable Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis, as we delve into the transformative world of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). In a compelling discussion, she shares her profound insights on how this pioneering cognitive approach, deeply rooted in Stoic philosophy, and pioneered by her husband, Dr. Albert Ellis can help us navigate life's tumultuous seas with greater resilience and hope.

This episode unravels the tightly wound threads of irrational thinking and its impact on our lives. Debbie guides us through the liberating shift from the chains of 'musts' and 'shoulds' to the freedom of flexible preferences, illuminating how such changes can heal our minds and foster emotional fortitude. We also celebrate the therapeutic powers of humor and emotions, essential companions in our journey toward mental health and the pursuit of a joyful existence.

Wrapping up our conversation, she shares heartwarming stories of hope that underpins her work. Her personal experiences and those of her parents who were survivors of the Holocaust, serve as a beacon, illuminating the path to improvement through persistence and gratitude. She also highlights resources for self-care and emotional management available through her website, leaving us with a poignant reminder of the abiding presence of hope in our lives. Tune in and be part of this uplifting exploration of the human spirit's capacity to thrive against all odds.

From her website: Dr Debbie Joffe Ellis is a licensed psychologist (Australia) and mental health counselor (New York), adjunct professor at Columbia University TC, and is affiliated with several major psychological associations and societies − including being a Member of the Australian Psychological Society, and an International Affiliate Member of the American Psychological Association. She has a doctorate in alternative medicine (MDAM) from the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine in affiliation with the World Health Organization, from whom she also received a gold medal (1993) in recognition of her service to the field of alternative and holistic medicine.

Dedicated to her husband, the great pioneering and remarkable psychologist Albert Ellis PhD, they worked together for several years giving public presentations and professional trainings on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), as well as collaborating on writing and research projects, until his death in 2007. She continues to present, practice and write about his groundbreaking approach of REBT.

She currently has a private practice in New York City, and also delivers lectures, workshops and seminars throughout the U.S.A. and across the globe


For more information: 

Website: www.debbiejoffeellis.com

Information on where you can find us. 

Support the Show.

Follow us on Instagram: @hopeologypodcast and the host @writerchristinamckelvy
To support the show, go to: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/hopeologypodcast

Disclaimer: The views reflected by any of the guests may not reflect the views of the podcast host. Some topics may be difficult for some viewers, so proceed at your own risk. This podcast does not replace psychotherapy or advice and is for entertainment purposes only.

Christina McKelvy:

Welcome to Hopeology Stories of Hope, Healing and Resilience. I'm your host, Christina McKelvy, Today. I'm so happy to introduce to you Dr Ellis. Hi, Dr Ellis, how are you doing today?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

I'm doing really well. Happy to be with you, Christina.

Christina McKelvy:

Thank you. Are you on the East Coast right now, or are you? Where are you in the world?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

I'm here, there and everywhere. It's on what podcast you're listening to? My touches is sitting on a chair in New York City.

Christina McKelvy:

Oh, it's probably a little colder there than here. You're in Arizona. I am but Northern Arizona, so it's not Phoenix or Tucson.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yeah, and the weather is not like New York City. You are correct, it's cold. That warm energy and vigor.

Christina McKelvy:

There we go. So let's dive a little bit into REBT and just before we kind of pick that apart in how it relates to hope and healing and resilience because that is what my podcast is about for our listeners who are not therapists maybe give a little background on what REBT is.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Sure well, rebt, in other words Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, is the pioneering cognitive approach in psychotherapy. It was the first approach to holistically and majorly challenge the then in the 20th century lord of the psychotherapy universe, dr Zygmunt Freud. To challenge his approach and my late husband, as you mentioned earlier, might have been when we were in private conversation before recording, dr Albert Ellis created REBT. He was trained to be a psychoanalyst because in those days, and we're talking about the 1940s, he was a lot older than me, by the way, hence my youthful voice, glow and appearance.

Christina McKelvy:

Well, I was wondering if that's why, or if you had like the secret to youth and longevity. I don't know.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Well, it's not a secret, but I think one of the keys to youthfulness and longevity is a healthy attitude, following principles akin to REBTs, which I'm about to share with you humor and realistic optimism, which also is at the heart of REBT. I think, when we have that healthy attitude and be mindful of creating balance in life, not fanatically, but generally eating mindfully healthy foods nothing wrong with a splurge now and then. But it amazes me the number of people I come across who don't connect the health of their body with the food they eat. It's kind of astonishing. And they're not unintelligent people, the ones I'm referring to. Anyway and he was nearly 50 years older than me, so there's that too, because he would have been well into his 100 and something by now, Anyway, so he was an excellent psychoanalyst In those days.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

As I started to say before I digress, if you wanted to be a psychologist, your choice really was to be a psychoanalyst. Sure, the early stages and days of behaviorism were there, but really, ziegman Freud ruled the roost, and so my husband was doing psychoanalysis with his clients patients, they were called and very good at it. But he felt very dissatisfied because he noticed that after sessions many of his patients felt better, but they weren't getting better. They felt better, maybe they got some insight they invented, they've expressed and so forth, but they were continuing to think in the same ways that created or contributed to their emotional distress.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

So, bit by bit, my husband became more active directive rather than a passive therapist, which is what the classic psychoanalytic therapist is. He became more active. He would educate, talk about the fact that it's not what happens that creates our emotions, but our attitude to it, our perception of it, what we think about it. So his goal was to help as many people as possible to suffer less unnecessary emotional distress and to give them the simple how-to's of doing so. And so part of that was the psychoeducation not in psychoanalysis and homework activities between sessions not in psychoanalysis. And so bit by bit. And then he wrote some articles, and they were. It took a while for them to be approved and published because it was so radical and in fact when he first presented his approach at the American Psychological Association Convention 1956, he was booed and jeered and made fun of and called simplistic and stupid.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

The majority of his peers actually all of them were into the psychoanalytic field, but he persisted. He persisted and over time, thousands and thousands of therapists either incorporated or became more fully REBT therapists. 15 years after REBT, cbt emerged Now. Dr Aaron Beck, known as the father of CBT, first contacted my late husband years before he published anything on CBT, before CBT was even CBT, and my husband was his mentor and a great help to him. And a lot of the principles of CBT are those of REBT and so essentially, rebt is not only an effective, evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach, it's a way of life.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

It's a way of life OK, Most of us who use it as such, and if you want me to Christine, I'm happy to do an elevator version of the main principles of it yes, please.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Okay, well, here's the elevator version of a very tall building. One might hear those of you who've read Stoic philosophy, influence of the Stoics and Eastern philosophy. So my husband had a number of influences, but he also was a visionary and literally a genius and created much that was original and that changed the world of psychology. So the first main principle, and with acknowledgement of epictetus and the Stoic philosophers, it's not what happens, it's not an event, it's not what someone says, it's not anything outside of us that creates our emotional experience, but what we tell ourselves about it.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Then, when we think in healthy, rational ways about adversity, about something unpleasant, something brutal, something we don't want, not getting what we do want, when we think in rational ways, we create what our epicte calls healthy, negative emotions. Now, negative in this sense doesn't mean bad, it's just not that pleasant. And when we think in irrational ways, we create what our epicte calls the unhealthy negative emotions. So that's another one of the brilliant contributions of REBT that isn't seen in most, if not all of the other psychotherapies, which have the distinguishing between the negative and the positive emotions. Rebt was the first and probably still is the only approach to, under the umbrella of negative, educate us about the difference between the healthy and unhealthy negative. And here they are. So when we think in irrational ways shall describe what's irrational, what's rational in the moment. We're coming up to the 36th floor, we'll get there.

Christina McKelvy:

But that's, okay, we have time.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Lovely. So the unhealthy, negative emotions include hopelessness, despondency, depression, anxiety, extreme panic, fear, rage, guilt and shame, and we think in rational ways about the same events. Then, instead of hopelessness and depression, we create healthy sadness, disappointment, grief. They're healthy, they're enriching. If an ache can be painful in its early stages, but so it is, if a person doesn't say I shouldn't be feeling this, it's awful, they will allow it as part of this tapestry of life. And if we're healthy enough and don't suffer from a pathology, we can experience emotion. It would be pathological not to so. Sadness and disappointment can motivate us. Okay, I didn't get what I wanted. What can I learn from this? What had I better not do again? What had I better try this time? So they're healthy in either, enriching our spirit. You know, grief is the other side of our deep love and gratitude for that all whom we've lost.

Christina McKelvy:

You can't have one without the other, and likely.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yeah, yeah, can't have one without the other. I was dancing there, yeah, and you did that very well, Thank you, Thank you.

Christina McKelvy:

Well, and you know, growing up, you know I always think about when a child's crying so I was like don't cry, be happy, be happy. But that's the wrong message. It's a harmful message. You know, big boys don't cry so fast forward and men out of touch with their emotions or suppressing emotions.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Suppress, suppress and then out. They'll rush like a volcano. It's great, you don't want to be near men or women? Yeah, or in whatever gender.

Christina McKelvy:

Yeah, so healthy these healthy, negative emotions, right, right.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

So then, when we think in rational, ways, you know we're not going to be able to do anything in rational ways. Instead of anxiety, we create concern. Rbt is about creating some neutral kind of peace and love, all as well. Neutral zone no concern. It's motivating. Oh, I'm a student, I've got a pay-per-view due in a week. I better get up and make a plan. And so concern pushes me, drives me, whereas if I'm anxious, either I'll procrastinate to avoid, I'll put it off, I'll get an extension of putting it off, or I'll find excuses not to do it, or I'll do it and do a very lousy job of it because it's under strain and stress. So concern is the healthy counterpart to anxiety.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Instead of rage, when we think in healthy ways, we create what RBT calls healthy anger. What's that? Rbt is holistic and humanistic and there's an assumption that if a human being isn't disturbed endogenously, biologically, then there's the tendency to be in touch with our moral compass. And so healthy anger is that emotion that is created and registers when we witness or receive brutal or immoral or unethical behavior. But we're still in control, we don't react, we're not impulsive. The emotion registers and we calculate. What now? Do I run for the hills? Do I? Do I call the police, do I calmly pause and then express something to the person. So we're in control of our actions and response. And which healthy person would not want to be in contact with their moral compass?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Then, when we think in healthy, rational ways about the same adversity or bad happening, instead of guilt and shame, which often are there when people attempt suicide, that feeling of worthlessness and undeservingness, what we create, the healthy counterpart is regret, regret, another one connected to our moral compass, and we're willing to own. I did badly, I did badly, that was a mistake. I really regret doing that. But then, along with that, our ebt guides us to remind ourselves that I'm a fallible human. A human is to be likely to make an error. I'm still alive.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Let me try, if possible, to make amends. Sometimes it's not possible. Let's say whatever person we intentionally or unintentionally did a bad thing towards is dead or cut us off and we can't make amends with him. We can still work on unconditionally accepting ourselves. We know what we did. With regret, we take responsibility and that increases the probability that we won't repeat the same error. If we're lucky enough, we can make amends. I hope that's clear. The difference between the healthy and unhealthy, negative emotions. One of the greatest tragedies of humankind is that so many of us have not been taught that it's not our events, we who have the power to create our own emotional destinies.

Christina McKelvy:

That's by differentiating between those negative emotions, like you said, anxiety, but turning that into motivation and concern.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

The how to is recognizing the difference between irrational and rational thinking, oversing when we're thinking irrationally, which is the cause of the unhealthy emotions, disputing the irrational beliefs, which results in us coming up with a rational belief and then repeating it, repeating it many times, for at least 30 days, so that new neural pathways are formed and that can start to become our habitual way of thinking. And so would you like me to describe now the difference between irrational and rational.

Christina McKelvy:

Yes, please, that would be helpful. I definitely want to also really dive into how this could dive into how RBT can help with that hope and healing. But yes, I think that might be important for our listeners to know between the rational and irrational.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

With pleasure and I encourage listeners as I describe the elements of irrational thinking to consider which of those ways of thinking they carry out they think, and is it helping them or hurting them?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

And if they knowledge in all probability it's not helping and is helping and is creating emotional distress, then the good news is the RBT toolkit provides really easy to do ways of addressing and changing those irrational thoughts.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

And I think you may mention later on the self-care sheet that through that framework of how we can dispute and replace the irrational beliefs so really quickly, when we think in irrational ways, we have demands, we have shoulds and oughts and musts, very rigid thinking and common core irrational beliefs that many people have adopted and they don't think about their thinking, never question the validity of them, and so it's almost like to them it's, it's truth but it's not, and so they include I must do well and be loved, liked, approved of by everyone. The second one is you and you can be an individual or a small group of family or a community or religion or a country or a political party, and it's you, singular or plural must believe what I believe, must act the way I think you should. I mean that way of thinking is at the core of terrorism and wars.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

And the next one is life should, should, must should be fair and with justice. Now, of course, rebt, which is humanistic, encourages us to strive to make the world more fair and just, but it's based in reality. And where does it get a person to say it should be fair and just when, at this time, the reality is it's not so. I desire it to be, I will work to contribute to it. Being healthy, yeah, but it should leads to rage or hopelessness. And another one of those core irrational beliefs is the need for certainty. I must know for sure that the fill in the dots you know, will my partner treat me well forever? Will COVID ever end? I must know, I must know with certainty and truly. At this stage, the only thing that's certain that I can think of is death, not even taxes, because some people don't even pay taxes.

Christina McKelvy:

So this room for you know, because the should and the certainty, like it's very black and white, it doesn't leave any room for nuance, doesn't leave any room for that, like you said, holistic outlook.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Exactly, yeah, we catastrophize, we all fall ice, we blow things out perspective. This is the worst that it could be. Frankly, if a person is alive and they're not suffering in terrible pain, 24, seven, it's not the worst that it could be. And where there's life, there usually is hope that things get better. There's a lot of evidence for that. And so we over generalize when we think in irrational ways, we think in absolute, as you indicate, black or white, this or that terms or nothing or ways, never, and we damn ourselves and others and life when things don't go the way we say thing they should. And, in contrast, when we think in rational ways which will create healthy emotions in response to the same activating event, instead of the demands, we have preferences. I wish, I want, I desire. It's healthy to have those goals and wants and not to escalate them to the shoulds which will create emotional suffering. If we don't get what we say we should, we don't get what we wish for, will be healthfully sad and disappointed, but not devastated or debilitated. And there's room for hope. There's room for hope, yes, when we think in rational ways, we don't catastrophize, don't awfulize, we don't have a generalized, we have humor, we think, keep things in perspective. We have high frustration tolerance. We can stand what we don't like, we just don't like it. I forgot to mention when we think irrationally. We have low frustration tolerance. I must have what I want when I want a little baby, that I am. So in rational thinking we we remind ourselves I can stand what I don't like, I just don't like it. That's all wedding.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

And one of the very essential elements of rational thinking and I read BT is the choice and it's an effort sometimes, often, to create unconditional self acceptance, unconditional other acceptance and unconditional life. Acceptance doesn't mean we accept bad behavior, right, but we accept the person doing the bad behavior has worth. Their behavior may deserve consequences and let's let's do the best we can to see that that happens. But the evil doer was once a baby too, and if not for our genetic makeup and upbringing there, but for the grace of whatever you believe in, go I.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

So. It invites the possibility, at best, of forgiveness and at next best, less best, but it's best best of not harboring hatred and bitterness for the rest of our lives, which will kill us sooner than we would have died otherwise. In all probability, it's a lot of medical research supporting that REBT encourages daily gratitude. It reminds us to create and maintain healthy emotions requires ongoing effort. It's not a one-off aha Oprah moment. It's. That's the beginning, and now I carry it on. And so there are the essentials, and I think we've reached the penthouse of the tall building.

Christina McKelvy:

We are up at the top with the view, the view of the. It's gorgeous. I like what you mentioned before is that it creates acceptance. You know, acceptance of the other. You don't have to like what they're doing, but accepting the human. Not accepting the behavior, but accepting the human. And that can really shift someone's perspective, like you said, where that bitterness and anger kind of dissipates and you see them as they were once, as a baby, that humanistic approach.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Indeed.

Christina McKelvy:

Yeah, and I can see that helping with resilience being able to move forward. You know, in whatever circumstance you're in, Most definitely.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yeah, you know, and with unconditional life acceptance. A lot of people are A lot of people who create either rage or hopelessness and depression, and so I mean any and all of the unhealthy, negative motions, in all likelihood do not have unconditional life acceptance. They will tend to focus on look at this horrific situation, and that's their dominant focus. And REBT is not about putting one's head in the sand and avoiding, suppressing, denying, not at all, but it's about choosing. And again, we have choice. When we know we have choice To, yes, be aware of that brutal situation, do what we can to make it better if we can Accept at this moment I can't help make it better if, at that moment, we can't but not instead of, in addition to to remember, just because this element of life right now is horrific Doesn't mean all of life is horrific, and therein lies the gift of daily gratitude.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yes, this is going on, but there's also this, and I can also experience that, and I'm grateful to have my, my loved one, or my, my doggy or my, my putty cats or who you know, and I can see here. What if I can't see, I can hear, can't see or hear, at least I can taste. And if I can't know, if I'm able, if anyone's able, to comprehend what I'm saying, we have a lot of blessings in that. So it's unconditional life acceptance. To go back to how you started me on this kind of monologue here is resilience and hope, definitely, are bolstered when we make the daily effort to accept the things we can't change, change what we can, if not globally, locally, and work on unconditionally, unconditionally accepting other people and ourselves.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

The people I've met, teach or work with have no trouble adoring their partner If they have a partner or best friend, if they have a partner or best friend, if they have a partner or best friend, if they have a partner or best friend or dog or cat, and if the dog or cat would approve on their very expensive new carpet, they would hate that they did that, but they don't love the dog or cat any less. They have unconditional acceptance of the dog, cat or person. Hopefully the person didn't. I was just going to say that would be unfortunate.

Christina McKelvy:

Well, if there are two, one two year old, that has happened, yeah and the 91, 92 year old in the worst case, or in between.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Life is funny sometimes and humor is great the fact that a person you know I've met a lot of these people who without effort, unconditionally accept others, even if others and more human do some unpleasant things and find it torturously difficult because they've not been taught how to or encouraged to do so, or being given really nasty lessons from childhood. On. This year a waste.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

I wish you never were born you know when a little child is sponge like and they grow up and if they're not lucky enough to have come across a redeeming situation person book, they will not internalize that yeah.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

So yeah, unconditional acceptance is key to a healthy life, mentally, emotionally and physically. There are many articles in the American Journal, the, the Journal of the American Medical Association. That's about a scientific journals you can get demonstrate scientifically it's not spiritual, philosophical journal, it's here are the medical, biological, chemical facts that daily gratitude enhances the health of people with, for example, cardiovascular issues, daily gratitude there was a long term study done of people who had similar cardiovascular issues and half of them practice daily gratitude and half didn't. And this to me was astonishing that the individuals the majority of them who practice daily gratitude lived on average 15 years and the ones who didn't. And also in the jammer Journal of the American Medical Association article about showing how people with chronic anger have had arteries high, blood pressure lower and ineffective or less effective immune system.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Not talking about the occasional angry outburst let's get paranoid now. Talking about chronic seething, 24 seven anger. That's what we're talking about. So the mind body connection cannot be ignored or disputed. There's so much medical evidence for that. Healthy mind, healthy emotions, healthier body. And even if we're genetically predisposed to certain conditions, research has shown people who have healthy attitudes are less likely to manifest that illness or condition to which we're genetically predisposed. We can change our genetic makeup.

Christina McKelvy:

Hmm, that's that holistic approach. The mind and body are connected. Speak more to that because I know you know you also you're, you know you have a doctorate in alternative medicine and our ebt is also a holistic therapeutic approach. So I guess my question is kind of general. But you know, speak more about that holistic aspect to our ebt, but also mind body connection. That can happen and how that facilitates longevity, but also emotional growth, physical growth.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yeah, well, I invite each of your listeners to consider how, in a positive or negative way, their emotions have helped or hurt them, hmm, and to consider how they might have felt emotionally after eating a meal that was over the top and clearly not good for them or their, their digestive system. You know, we have evidence if we just think about not only our thinking, but how do I feel? How did I feel when dot dot dot, our ebt reminds us of the inseparable interplay of our thinking and our emotions and our behavior, and the interplay and energy created by that scientifically energetically influences the immune system and the health of the body. As I just indicated a few minutes ago, in the 1980s there was a bestselling book by Dr Norman Cousins.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

I'm beginning the exact title right now, but if you Google his name I'm sure the book will come up. And he had a life threatening illness and one of the things he did was watch funny movies all day and he laughed a lot and doctors were amazed that he recovered.

Christina McKelvy:

Anatomy of an illness is the that it or the biology of hope. I found two.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Well, I was thinking of anatomy, of an illness, but it sounds like the other one would be relevant to your listeners as well. And yeah, so what else can I say about the mind-body connection? You can't have one without the other. And mind-body body doesn't just mean what we eat, you know, it's the exercise, it's the quality of the sleep that we have. We are biological creatures in a natural world. If the oceans, the massive waters of the oceans, are influenced by the position of the moon, and you know the influence that on the tides, yeah, but only are we little biological creatures in our universe, influenced by that bigger energy, shall I say. But so we are influenced by the more immediate circumstances and biological conditions that we create or experience the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the quality food that we eat. So I've gone a little bit here, there and around the mulberry bush. Christina, I hope I answered your question.

Christina McKelvy:

You did, you did. You know. I think it can be a whole other podcast episode. It could probably even be a whole podcast series. You know there's so many books out there. You know it's separate. For a really long time, I mean, people thought the mind was different from the body, but there is so much interactions and interplay and you know, yeah.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Try separating your mind from your body. Yeah, I can't I invite any listeners to write in if they can, and where and where is the mind? Anyway, Some people have assumed it's in the brain, because the brain is where we cognitively process.

Christina McKelvy:

Now they think it could be the gut or the microbiomes influence a lot of mm hmm, and just what the Egyptians and so many ancient cultures already knew, that yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Oh, it's true. You know, on some of those everyday expressions, you know I've got butterflies in my stomach or I have that feeling and it. You know, that's a type of mind as well, and then maybe that gut feeling is translated into words through the brains cooperation, but each one of us, what are we made of? You know, 90% water, what's the water made of, plus the other 10% of stuff? So what's what's?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Protons, neurons, energy, energy, and the privilege we have as an individual, if we're aware of it, is that we can craft to a huge degree If we're not cognitively impaired, of course, or have other medical issues. That's the exception, perhaps, but otherwise we get to create our attitudes. And I'm not talking sugary sweet, it's all for the best when tragic things happen. I'm talking about realistic optimism, which really comes back to the theme of your podcast. I'm talking about choosing what we need, to making an effort to sleep enough, except for occasionally where we go a little wild on a happy celebration. You know, we have the responsibility to choose to use it. Otherwise, let's be victim and blame the society, the environment, the politics, the food, the lack of. You know, let's take control. You know, it's very empowering and it feels really good to be in charge of what we can be in charge of, which is our thinking and our emotions and our behavior.

Christina McKelvy:

And that's where you say that it is a lifestyle.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yeah, an attitude, a way of life. Yeah, I wrote an article that was published a few years ago. I was about gratitude and I was. I'll make a long story short. Yes, I live in New York City, not far from the Hudson River, and one of my life enhancing activities is to go for walks by the Hudson River, which is bike path, pedestrian path.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

One day a bike that was speeding barreled into me and I fell back and lost consciousness for a bit and it was a bit concussion. And then I came to, I sort of sat up, and when I realized nothing was broken, I was a bit dazed. My head hurt, but I was fine, large, okay. My first attitude slash emotion was gratitude that it wasn't worse. Now, I attribute that mainly to the fact that for decades, up until that point, I had been practicing during hard times, actively looking for what still was good, well, I still could be grateful for, and therefore I wasn't enraged, I was grateful. Now I still told the bike rider firmly you need to be more careful. You could have killed me, you could have killed yourself, but I wasn't enraged. And in terms of hope, we can focus on what's really rotten or, as I said earlier. Accept that reality, but also make it a daily practice to look at what hope there is for improvement, accept any facts that tell us probably in that regard there's no hope, and focus on where there is hope and what we can be grateful for and what still is good. And I think I wrote to you last month in our email exchange.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

My parents survived five years of concentration camp in Europe during the Second World War. They were childhood sweethearts who married just before the war and then they were taken to concentration camps and put in separate, first of all male-female areas, but then they were moved to different concentration camps and as the years rolled along, each one thought that probably the other one was dead, but they clung to the hope that maybe they aren't. And when the war was over, by some fortuitous circumstance or miracle if you want to call it that they found one another. Most of their other family members were murdered, slaughtered, put in gas chambers to die, and each my mum, my dad, amazing people would say they refused to lose hope even in hellish situations and fast-forwarding briefly to starting a new life in Australia, where, some years later, I was born. Number of their friends in Australia were also holocaust survivors, and some of them had what was then called nervous breakdowns. Now we call it GAD general generalising anxiety sort of whatever.

Christina McKelvy:

Handicap attacks yeah.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Yeah, and post-traumatic stress. The kids they didn't have that expression and they suffered. But my parents and others of their friends did not suffer from those because, more than remembering the brutal, horrendous past, they focus more on the here and now and what they were grateful for a new beginning, a new life, a new chance. And of course, they cried at times when they remembered their dead family members or recalled the whole, but that wasn't their predominant focus. So you come back to your beautiful theme of your podcast hope and resilience. It's a choice. It's a choice to have hope. It's a choice to be resilient when bad things happen, and what can help us is to think of people who have survived hell and clung onto hope and the fact that things did get better and that they did survive. We can recall times where we've survived, proof that when bad things happen doesn't necessarily mean that they will destroy or diminish us. But it's a choice and it does require ongoing effort.

Christina McKelvy:

Ongoing. It's a practice and, like you said, it's daily that daily gratitude, daily acceptance. Dr Ellis, I like to ask, speaking of hope, I'd like to ask you a personal question. I do ask this to everyone that I interview what brings you hope?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

What a great question, christina. I think it's because I choose to have it. It's because not only, as I was going to say, not only my parents endured brutal situations, but so did I. But the ones I've endured can't be compared to what they did, but I have evidence that things get better, that things can get better. I've observed people tunnel down, down, down and give up on life because they allowed themselves to lose hope. So what gives me hope is my experience that things do get better if I persist and if I continue my practice of daily gratitude.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

What gives me hope is reminding myself that I love being alive. I love life. I hate some of the tragic things. I hate cruelty that happens in war and terrorism. I abhor cruelty to animals and the environment. I do what I can as the individual I am to. If I can't do anything practical, I'll contribute a little to some of the organizations that really are making a difference, and I have a sense I'm not going to live forever. So what gives me hope is that there's so much even though there's much that's not great so much that is great that I can enjoy it and I can work to maintain my good health and keep enjoying it. And another thing that gives me pleasure and meaning is that I can do my bit to help other people when they're feeling hopeless, to restore their hope, and when that happens they can help other people restore their hope. And that's, you know, doing a little can kind of open up into helping a whole lot. You know, one life touches another, another touches another, and that's the exponential growth of people infecting others with hope.

Christina McKelvy:

People infecting others with hope. That's a good infection to have, well, and.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

I don't suggest any vaccine or immunity from that one. Let it fester and grow.

Christina McKelvy:

Yes, yes, let it spread. You know, because hope is contagious and you know I have, you know, hopeology and I have stories of hope, healing and resilience. And I have it in that order for a reason Because when you have hope, then you can heal and then you have that resilience. You know, in that order and it's you need hope first, and so thank you so much, you know, for being on here and explaining. You know the history of REBT and how REBT can foster hope, but also sharing you know some of your own personal history and how it inspired you to have hope as well, and I just really appreciated or appreciate, excuse me you being here. So thank you so much.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Oh, it's a great pleasure, kristina. I really appreciate you and the work you're doing to infect others, yes, so keep up your great work with individuals and via your podcasts. That's wonderful, and I hope your listeners will, you know, do whatever is required that they heal any wounds, that that dampen any hope, so that they rekindle hope or give birth to hope and keep that alive and to cherish life and to help other people.

Christina McKelvy:

Yeah, really cherish life. Be that gratitude. Dr Ellis, where can people find you online or learn more about you?

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Okay, thanks for asking. Well, my website is wwwdebbyjofieellis.

Christina McKelvy:

as one word, and that will be in the show notes for everybody. Great yeah.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

So don't I caution, people sometimes put in three E's instead of two.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

It's D, double B I J, o, double F, double E, double L, I S dot com, and so that's my website and there are videos and gee, I might add this podcast, you know. There are recordings there, there are some articles I've written for psychology today and other things, and there's my self care sheet that we mentioned earlier, which a person can use to help them identify are they thinking in irrational ways and creating unhealthy emotions, and then it guides them into disputing them the irrational beliefs, coming up with healthy beliefs that they can repeat and repeat and therefore prevent creating that unhealthy emotion the way they did. So my website and it also I put on any upcoming workshops or presentations and some of the people, if they're in that area, they can attend or listen to. If it's a virtual one, and so I guess that's one of the best ways to see what I'm doing and where I might be presenting. And if it's a student, I teach at Columbia University, so come do my REBT course.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

If you're doing a master's or a doctorate in psychology, yeah, there you go All right, awesome.

Christina McKelvy:

Well, thank you. And yeah, thank you again. And to everyone listening, I inspire you to check out her website. Look at the self care sheet. I think that's fabulous. And you know, I just give hope for all.

Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis:

Thank you to. Thanks again, christina. And where there's life, there really is hope. Till the moment we're not here anymore, then there's hope for the end of the blues dead, but with his life is hope. Let's cherish life.

Christina McKelvy:

Yes, where there's life, there's hope. I think that's a great ending right there.

Rebt
Unraveling Irrational Thinking for Emotional Health
Unconditional Life Acceptance and Health
Fostering Hope
Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis Website