Updated: May 30
You know the story. You have an amazing idea, or a goal, or a good relationship, and then it blows up in the your face. When the dust settles, you recognize how your thoughts and choices impacted those results.
Irrational beliefs are ideas we have that are not based on reality or logic. They have dysfunctional consequences and promote maladaptive behaviors.
1) Demanding Beliefs
These sound like, "should," "must," "ought," and "have to." They establish standards that are unchangeable and inflexible. They lead to perfectionistic ideals that create discontent when we cannot achieve them. They prevent us from accepting things as they are.
This is also called catastrophizing--everything seems like a disaster. We say things like, "How terrible!" "Nothing could be worse!" "This is the end of everything!" "I'll never be happy again!" Sometimes it happens when something big happens, but more often than not, it can happen when something small and inconsequential occurs. "I was late for my appointment now I'll never land that contract!" "I failed that test. I can never build the career I want!" 3) Low Frustration Tolerance
The happens when someone's thoughts and beliefs lead to emotions that the person is not prepared to handle. "It's too hard!" "I can't bear it!" Every emotion we've ever had was created by a thought of some kind. When our thoughts are unmanaged, they often create very large emotions that seem as though we cannot handle them.
This occurs when we form a negative evaluation of ourselves or others because an event occurred. "I lost the game. I'm such a bad person!" "He pulled out right in front of me! What a jerk!" We are associating mistakes and failures with bad intentions and our own/or others negative worth.
All of these irrational beliefs lead to more thoughts and feelings that often move us in ways counter to our values and counter to our values.
Instead, we can try to respond in different ways.
Learning about our brains and how they work to produce thoughts/beliefs, feelings, and actions helps us to look at ourselves more rationally. We learn to identify cognitive distortions which helps us to make better choices.
2) Coping Statements
When we understand that we can choose some of our thoughts and that these chosen thoughts can guide us in further choices, we learn the value of coping statements. Questions like "What did I do well?" or "What is right in this wrong situation?" empower us to connect with our deepest values and enable us to see an event with clarity.
3) Cost/Benefit Analysis
When we can see an event with clarity, that does not mean we discount the negative. Life has both positive and negative aspects. But when we are operating in our wise-mind, we can see both and identify areas where we have choices to move forward. We can ask ourselves, "Does this situation serve me?" "Do these thoughts move me forward?" "Does this relationship help me grow in ways I would like to grow?"
Self-sabotage is common but we can learn techniques that help us cope and choose new ways to move forward.
Want help with self-sabotage?