by Stephanie Grossman, M.A.
Over the past few months I have slowly been losing cell service, and somehow also wifi, on my phone in my apartment. Attempts to talk to my parents have consisted of me awkwardly huddled by my bed in the one spot I can hear them best, if at all. And forget about the Instagram, Snapchat, and Pokemon Go apps on my phone (don’t judge)– I couldn’t use those either.
I quickly became angry. I became even angrier as I was learning that the only way to fix this problem was to purchase a $250 “extender” from my wireless company (a purchase, I believed I shouldn’t have to make). I SHOULD receive cell phone service! This is New York City! Not only that, but although I told the employees at said wireless store that I would be out of town for the coming week, I later learned that I had missed UPS’ three attempts to deliver my extender in a package that required my signature. They SHOULD have told me it needed a signature, I thought. And now, I needed to take time out of my day to retrieve this exorbitantly priced device that I shouldn’t have had to purchase in the first place, from the UPS store, which is far away from my apartment (that of course, I should NOT have to go to).
As I’m beginning my externship at the Albert Ellis Institute, I’m starting to call myself on my own irrational beliefs (notice any “shoulds” above?). When I demand access to things and demand answers, I get angry, and no closer to solving these problems. In fact, even now, as my extender works beautifully, having miraculously restored both my cell and wifi service, I still sometimes think: this shouldn’t have happened. Even when I got what I wanted, the demands I continue to place on others and the world just create unnecessary distress for me. Something tells me this won’t be the last time I think life is unfair. In the future though, I can remind myself that of course it’s unfair! Where is it written that I deserve to get perfect cell and wifi service? Why shouldn’t I have to go out of my way? After challenging these demands, I replaced them with rational beliefs (e.g., I’d strongly prefer to not go out of my way, but there is no reason why I must not.”) Next time, if I have to be inconvenienced, I might as well challenge and replace my irrational beliefs and not make the situation worse by making myself so angry about it.