Maybe even filled out the BELIEFS INVENTORY.
Because now we are going to take a closer look at each of those pesky irrational thoughts spelled out in What are You Thinking.
We looked at our irrational need for approval and perfectionism already. Then we moved on to our tendency to judge others harshly and our irrational belief that we should always get what we want
Now it’s time to look at who is REALLY responsible for our emotional condition. Hint: it’s not your boss, your mom, or your sweetie!
Let’s get started!
Irrational Belief #5:
The idea that unhappiness is externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events.
Unhappiness is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions.
As ancient philosopher Epictetus said, it is not external events but our views, our self-talk, our beliefs about those events that upset us. In other words, it is how we process external events that causes our unhappiness NOT the events themselves. I know this is a tough one to swallow. People have been struggling with it for 5000 years – all the way back to the ancient greeks.
We all know people who seem to have this particular irrational belief beat. They are those few among us who can find a way to be happy even in the toughest times. The coworker who chooses to view an unexpected lay-off as an opportunity to try something new. The friend who feels blessed to be taking care of her demanding elderly parents. How do they do it? By CHOOSING healthy, positive self-talk.
We also know people who really struggle with this. They are always unhappy. And it is always someone else’s fault. Their boss is impossible to please. Their spouse doesn’t appreciate them enough. They don’t make enough money. It’s so very easy to find reasons to be discontent. It’s also so very easy to pin the blame for that unhappiness on something – or someone – else. The problem with that is that it leaves you powerless. If it is ALL THEIR FAULT, you can’t do anything to change it. You remain firmly, and miserably, in the victim role.
So, challenge your irrational ideas. Take responsibility for your own emotions. Decide for yourself how you will respond to external events.
You may or may not be able to change the external events in your future. But you can certainly change your thinking about them. And that will change your feelings.
Remember no one can make you feel any way; you are responsible for your own feelings.
Countering Irrational Beliefs #5: Here’s a handy little printable worksheet to help you learn to counteract that pesky little inner victim. Try it out. You CAN change how you think. And that WILL change how you feel and how you act.
Next up: Irrational Belief #6 – The idea that any potential threat or danger is cause for worry. You don’t want to miss this one!