We all have them.
We KNOW they aren’t true when we actually stop to examine them.
But they sure FEEL true in our gut. And they impact how we act. Unless we take the time to deal with them. Let’s do that now so that we can make rational choices and act in ways that REALLY align with our values. Let’s break free from all those irrational thoughts, shall we?
Part 1: Identifying Irrational Thoughts
Before you can change the voice in your head, you have to learn to recognize it. The following list illustrates the 12 most common irrational thoughts – the ones that most of us fall victim to at one time or another. The list is based on the work of Albert Ellis who developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy back in the ’50s. If interested, you can check out more info about him or about REBT here. Take a moment to read through the list. Notice your gut response to each.
- It is necessary for me to be loved/approved of by significant others for almost everything they do. “I can’t stand it when my mom thinks I’m making a bad decision.”
- I should be thoroughly competent, intelligent, and high-achieving in every area of my life. “It is not okay for me to screw up.”
- Certain acts are awful or wicked and people who perform such acts should be severely condemned/damned/judged. “That guy is a worthless drain on society.”
- It is horrible when things are not the way I like them to be. “I won’t be able to survive if I don’t get the job!”
- Human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events. “Of course I’m unhappy! I have the worst job ever and my husband doesn’t do anything to help!”
- If something is or may be dangerous or fearsome I should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it. “I couldn’t sleep last night worrying that the school bus could crash and my child could die.”
- It is easier to avoid than to face life’s difficulties and responsibilities. “I’ll think about that later. Right now I think I’ll check Facebook.”
- I absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than myself on which to rely. “If only I had a mentor to smooth my way.” Or “Once I meet my soul mate my life will be perfect.”
- If something strongly affected our life in the past, it should/will indefinitely affect it. “I will never get over the way s/he treated me!”
- I must have certain and perfect control over things. “Things will fall apart if I don’t stay vigilant!”
- Human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction. “If only I could stop working and do nothing, I would be happy.”
- I have virtually no control over my emotions and I cannot help feeling disturbed about things. “It’s just how I feel!”
Which of these statements hit home with you? Want to dig a little deeper?
BELIEFS INVENTORY: If you would like a more scientific and objective assessment of you own irrational thinking, take a few minutes to complete this assessment tool. It will help you identify any irrational “blindspots.”
In Part 2 we are going to learn how to refute these irrational beliefs and make choices about our responses. You won’t want to miss it.