In the world of cognitive-behavioral therapy, there is a list of thoughts that will rob you of joy and happiness. I’ll highlight three of the most insidious thoughts that can sabotage your life. These are called irrational beliefs and were brought to attention by renowned Psychologist Albert Ellis.
As you read through these examples, you may think, “People are smarter than this, nobody really thinks this stuff literally.” Research in the field of cognitive-behavioral therapy begs to differ. People fall into these daily irrational patterns all the time. Don’t feel bad, all of us instinctively work from our own frame of reference. These faulty beliefs continue because they promote our individual survival. In modern society, we have sayings that help promote these irrational thoughts. These colloquialisms can bring us comfort, and also plant beliefs that are not meant to be absolutes. Here are some examples:
What goes around comes around.
Cheaters never win and winners never cheat.
What does not kill you, makes you stronger.
Albert Ellis was famous for asking his clients to stop saying three words, should, ought and must. These words plant the seeds of faulty expectations. Ellis would ask us instead to use words such as could, may and prefer. It is ok to have the desired outcome but if we demand, we inadvertently cause our own disturbance. His ultimate belief was that it is not the things that happen to us that cause us problem but what we think about it is the root of the problem.
If you catch yourself thinking the irrational thoughts below, move quickly to get off the ropes and change to a more open outcome and save your happiness and contentment
|Irrational Thought: Behaviors or thoughts that deliver an undesired result (i.e frustration, anger sadness)||Rational Thought:|
|I must be approved of by people.||I don’t need everyone’s approval, select people will approve and some will not.|
|Things ought to go the way I expect and people should behave as I expect. || People will act as they wish, I don’t have to like it. |
|I am a good person and therefore, life should give me what I want.||There will be variable amounts of reward and failure regardless of how I behave.|
This is not an effort to get you to throw out all of your standards and expectations. It is to remind you to regulate them. A majority of people visit a therapist because of the pain of expectations held of themselves or others that are unfulfilled. The question is how many of these expectations are rational? If we train ourselves to be more rational then we ultimately guard our happiness. It gets easier with practice