Monday, August 23, 2010

Eleven Beliefs That Cause Problems

From Albert Ellis, edited by Kathie Keeler and Tom Johnson

Our behavior is determined by what we believe, whether we are aware of it or not. Anxiety, depression, sadness are all caused by what we believe. Below are listed eleven common beliefs that cause problems. The list is adapted from the work of Albert Ellis , one of the originators of cognitive-behavioral therapy. His pioneering research brought a significant paradigm shift to the world of psychology.

1. I must be loved by everyone.
Actually, everyone doesn’t have to love me, or even like me. I don’t necessarily like everyone I know, so why should everyone else have to like me? I enjoy being liked and loved, but if someone doesn’t like me, that’s OK. I will still feel loved and am OK. I can’t make someone like me anymore than someone can get me to like them. I don’t need everyone’s approval all the time or anyone’s approval all the time. They don’t approve of me: that’s OK. I don’t approve of everyone else either.

2. I must be perfect.
No, it is okay to make mistakes. Making mistakes is something we all do, even serious ones. I’m still a good person even if I make mistakes. So I won’t let them upset me. I choose to keep on trying to do better. Other people can make mistakes too without me getting on their case. I choose to be gentle with myself and with other people.

3. People who do things I don't like are bad people.
Not necessarily. They aren’t evil just because I don’t like what they have done. Why should other people always be the way I want them to be? Should I be the way someone else wants me to be? No. I can’t control others or change them. They are who they are, and we all deserve basic respect and reasonable treatment.

4. Things should be different. I need to control things.
No, I don’t have to. I will be OK if things are different than I want them to be. When we don't accept things the way they are, we're fighting against reality, and that causes stress. I don't always need to control things. I may prefer something different, but I can choose to not stress myself over things I can't change. Even if I don’t like something, I can live with it.

5. It is your fault I feel this way.
No, I am responsible for my day, for how I feel and for what I do. Other people don’t make me feel things; I choose my emotional response. It is not the responsibility of other people to change so that I feel better. I refuse to give emotional control of my life over to other people.

6. Something may go wrong, and I have to worry about it.
No, Things may go wrong – they sometimes do – and I don’t have to worry about it. I can handle it when things go wrong. Actually, most of the time, things go fine, but when they don't, that’s OK too. I don't have to cause myself stress by worrying. There are solutions. I’ll deal with it and be OK.

7. This is too hard; I can’t do it.
Yes, life can be hard, but I can try. Even if I have to deal with difficult situations, facing them is better than avoiding them. Taking on challenges produces a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Not everything can be easy. Things worth having are worth the effort. I can’t do everything, but I can do something

8. I need someone stronger than me to lean on.
Most of the time, I am strong enough to handle my own problems. I am a capable, intelligent person. I can take care of myself, and when I need help, I am free to ask for it. But I can also think for myself and make my own decisions. I don’t need to be dependent on someone else for my well being.

9. I can't change.
Of course I can, if I choose to. I don’t have to be a certain way because of something that happened in the past. Every day is a new day, and there are options. I don’t have to be the way I was yesterday. I can change.

10. You need me to fix up your life.
Actually other people are also quite capable and intelligent; they can act to solve their own problems. I don't need to fix up other people's lives or to change them to feel good about myself. I can care and be of some help, but it's not my job to rescue other people or to “run the world.”

11. There's only one right way to do things: my way.
There is almost always more than one way to solve a problem or resolve a situation. I can be flexible. I am not the only one with good ideas and experience. Other people have them too. I can contribute my part and remember that everyone has something to contribute that’s worth listening to.

So - - - - -
I can change the false and negative beliefs that are causing me problems by becoming aware of them and replacing them with the positive truth. It may not happen overnight, but I can make a start today. I can post this list and read it at least once a week. It can change your life, and it has helped change mine.

Tom