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There’s no doubt in my mind that Musterbation is a bad habit, some people do it far too much, some people do it far too often, and some people just can’t stop themselves.

I sometimes do it myself, I hear other people doing it everyday, and more importantly I can’t fail to see the internal stress that too much musterbation causes.

Musterbation is the tendency to use what we call in language terms a Modal Operator of Necessity, and what happens if you do this and particularly if you musterbate too much is that you build a feeling of internal stress and limit your feeling of choice in whatever you are musterbating or thinking about.

So if you would like to decrease your mental stress, frustration, and learn how to stop musterbation to help control the level of anxiety in your life then read on.

When a person musterbates, they use the word ‘must’ or other words like ‘should’, ‘have to’, ‘need to’ or ‘got to’ these words indicate a necessity to do something, and presuppose to you mentally either consciously or subconsciously that you must do something, that it has to happen, it ought to happen, and that it needs to happen. Here’s three examples I heard in my clinic today; e.g. “I must lose weight…”

e.g. “I have to get a job…”

e.g. “I need to stop smoking…”

I must do this… or I need to do that… limits your feeling of choice it creates a mental double bind, in fact these Modal Operations of Necessity tie us up mentally because when we use them only two options spring to mind when we use this type language. i.e what would happen if you did and what would happen if you didn’t.

There is always always more choice.

I talk to patients every day that are a little down in the dumps, that have low mood and also who are clinically depressed, and one thing some of them do is dwell on what would happen if they didn’t do something or the pain of them having to do what they really need to do.

They typically musterbate about what they must or must not do, they use this type of modal operator in their language and tie themselves up mentally, and by doing this they feel disempowered and create a lack of choice in how they can react in any situation.

This limits their ability to access other resources, make better choices, feel less anxious and pull themselves out of the doldrums.

To illustrate the feeling of stress that musterbation causes spend a second or two to listen to your own self talk when saying to yourself a few of the things you ‘have to’ do today, here’s a few of mine that spring to mind whilst writing this article.

“I have to cut the grass”, “I should go for a run” and “I must iron my work shirts”.

I don’t know about you but when I say these things I feel unmotivated inside, and when I say ‘have to’, ‘should’, or ‘must’ phrases to myself I can feel frustration build inside me.

Whereas if I could stop musterbating, I could try say to to myself that “I could cut the grass a little later”, that “I’d prefer to go for a run especially if the kids are playing up” and that if I get the choice “I could probably be able to nip out to the dry cleaners and drop the shirts off to be pressed instead”.

Using self talk with better modal operators makes you feel a lot better inside because with a better modal operators you get you more choice, your unconscious is less limited and other options spring to mind, you feel less restricted mentally and your eyes are opened to possibility.

By stopping yourself musterbating you reduce self imposed feelings of anxiety as well as reducing your internal stress levels, and most importantly to me using the example above it also gets me out of ironing your shirts.

A simple self improvement exercise that you could choose to do for a day, or maybe a week or two if you really want to make the habit stick would be to mentally catch yourself saying things like ‘have to’ , need to’, ‘should’ and ‘I must’ and instead say to yourself what you’d ‘like to do’ , or ‘what you could do’ instead, and see how much better it feels.

I doubt too much musterbation will make you go blind, but by choosing to use a better modal operator it will help you limit the internal stress you may feel and mentally open your mind to opportunity. musterbation

To find out more about how you can use Modal operators either to improve your own internal self talk, in a therapeutic setting, or to help with Sales and Marketing.

Download your Free eBook on Modal Operators Here.

Musterbation‘ was a phrase originally coined by Albert Ellis one of the founders of CBT.