Do you ever find yourself experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, or a sense of deflation or powerlessness without any major event provoking those feelings? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of irrational ideas and beliefs.
Psychologist Albert Ellis, founder of rational emotive behavior therapy, identified many common forms of irrational ideas and self-talk. Here are some examples of irrational beliefs that you might be holding:
“I need love and approval to feel good about myself.”
“I must be unfailingly competent, successful, and perfect to deserve the good things in life.”
“It’s horrible when things turn out differently than I wanted them to.”
“Life is full of catastrophic external events that cause misery and suffering.”
“The unknown is dangerous and scary.”
“It’s easier to avoid pain and difficulty than to face it head on.”
“The secret to happiness is endless leisure, entertainment, and recreation.”
Notice that these irrational ideas tend to “overdramatize” and “absolutize” life. They tend to make things catastrophic and black and white. However, these beliefs just aren’t accurate or helpful. Though you may have had some experiences that back them up, if you take a wider view, you’ll see that these ideas just don’t hold up—and they definitely are not strategies for success.
So, the next time you find yourself frustrated, anxious, afraid, angry, or upset, see if you can identify the irrational idea that you are holding onto at that moment. Then, see if you can refute that idea with evidence from your own life experience. For example, you could notice exceptions to your idea. When you do that, I think you’ll find that it frees up your mind and calms your emotions. You may find yourself able to view things in a way that is more objective, positive, and effective.