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Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

"Helping You, Help Yourself"

Being vs Behaving

Being vs Behaving by David Zerella{2:48 minutes to read} Language matters. I say it all the time: How we speak affects how we think. How we think affects how we feel and how we feel affects how we behave. Therefore changing our language can change how we think, feel, and behave.

One of the most important distinctions in language is the difference between being and behaving. Unconditional acceptance is understanding people are not just their behavior. People may behave a certain way but it doesn’t mean they are a certain way.

We often overuse the verb being to judge or criticize others. The issue is that by saying (and thinking) people are being a certain way leads to labeling, suggests rigidity, and establishes absolutes within our thinking. For example, we may think people are either being friendly or being rude. Although this may seem innocuous enough, once we decide someone is “being rude” we then tend to look for evidence that confirms this hypothesis. As inherently flawed human beings, we run the risk of misinterpreting and wrongfully categorizing certain behaviors based on our preconceived notions. This promotes rigidity and decreases flexibility in thinking, which increases frustration, anger, distrust, and conflict.

Ultimately, we want to maintain flexibility in our thinking because the world, others, and even ourselves, are more fluid than concrete. In order to do so, I frequently recommend replacing the term being with behaving. For example, by saying “that person is behaving rudely,” we don’t define the individual or pretend to know how they act in all other areas of their life. We are simply commenting, on their present behaviors. We may still hate the present behaviors of others, but it doesn’t require us to fully hate the person to their core. Hating or disliking other people’s state-of-being requires too much energy on our part and keeps us in a negative frame of mind.

Here are some examples of how we can change being to behaving:

Being Behaving
“That person is being rude.” “That person is behaving rudely.”
“Stop being so mean!” “I find that behavior mean or degrading.”
“Everyone’s being so disrespectful.” “People are behaving in disrespectful ways.”
“She is being inconsiderate.” “I think her behavior is inconsiderate.”
“He is being stupid/immature.” “His behavior is immature.”

David Zerella, LCSW
CBT Psychological Associates
2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 345
Commack, NY. 11725
(631) 486-5140
Office@cbta-ny.com

2017-08-02T12:19:15+00:00 By |0 Comments

About the Author:

David Zerella, LCSW
CBT Psychological Associates
2171 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 345
Commack, NY. 11725
(631) 486-5140
Office@cbta-ny.com

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