It is well known that what we believe has a powerful influence upon how we interpret interactions and respond to them. If our beliefs are inaccurate our responses to situations will be maladaptive. The list below represents the most commonly held irrational beliefs.
1. It is essential that I am loved or approved of by every significant person that I know.
Suggestion: read "The Disease to Please" by Harriet Braiker.
2. I should be competent and achieving in all respects to be a worthwhile person.
Try this: start laughing when you make a mistake and find humor in your weaknesses.
3. Some people are bad and evil and should be severely punished for their badness.
Try this: stop yourself when you recognize that you are thinking in a black-and-white manner. Life isn't that simple.
4. It's a catastrophe when things are not the way we really want them to be.
Try this: tell yourself to breathe slowly and let go of things that happen outside your control. You can't control some things but you likely have the skills to manage them.
5. Unhappiness is caused by factors that I cannot control so I'm helpless over my feelings.
Suggestion: recognize that this idea is an excuse for acting like a victim. Happiness is about how you think about things. Try identifying 3 things that you are grateful for before going to sleep each night to begin shifting away from this type of helpless thinking.
6. If something seems risky or dangerous to me I have to worry about and dwell over it possibly
Suggestion: Understand that worrying NEVER helps. A person who can relax and let things go will be more successful in reaching life goals.
7. I need to try to avoid rather than face certain life problems because it's a lot easier that way.
Suggestion: Facing life problems is a critical skill. Practice going TOWARD instead of away from a few uncomfortable things because this type of practice helps build essential coping skills.
8. I need someone stronger than myself to depend and rely upon.
Suggestion: Do more things independently and without consulting others. You are responsible for your life and can develop the strength to manage most things.
9. The things that strongly impacted me in the past will always have the same effect upon me.
Suggestion: This is a myth that causes people to feel stuck in their personal histories. You can change your thinking and transcend your past if you decide that it doesn't have the right to continue to disturb you.
10. I need to be concerned and upset over other people's problems.
Suggestion: Read one of the books about boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend. It's important to learn to manage YOUR OWN problems and respect others right to manage theirs.
11. There is a right and correct solution to life problems and that solution MUST be found.
Suggestion: Some things don't have easy solutions and most things can be solved in multiple ways. Try brainstorming how many uses you can find for a brick. Do this with a group of people for 2 minutes to help you recognize how to think outside the box.
Derived from the research of Albert Ellis
Julie Powell Thomas, PhD
Psychologist/Partner Tulsa Developmental Pediatrics & Center for Family Psychology
Phone: 918 743-3224