Irrational Beliefs – Part 4

Here are 3 irrational beliefs (cognitive distortions) that we need to watch out for and fix since they can lead to lower self-esteem and harm our everyday interactions.

 Always being right – When an individual often puts on a trial other people’s opinions and actions to prove that they are right. They struggle with the irrational belief that being wrong is unacceptable, and they go to any length to validate their argument.

What to do: Practice the Cost-Benefit Analysis Technique to list the advantages and disadvantages of this behavior. Ask yourself how it makes you feel and what you are gaining with an inappropriate attitude. This method examines the underlying motivation, which encourages you to be sensitive and attuned with your noble intentions. In other words, the practice improves emotional intelligence, which plays an important role in our interpersonal relationships.

Personalization involves taking everything personally or blaming yourself or someone else for an issue that was out of control, and a variety of factors played a role in it. This distortion also drives the person to compare himself to others to establish who is smart or attractive.

What to do:

  1. Stop recounting the problem repeatedly to yourself or others so that the toxic emotions are not reinforced—question what part you played in the issue’s outcome.
  2. Change the pattern, view error as an opportunity for self-improvement rather than failure—question what role you played in the problem’s outcome.
  3. Be mindful of your tendency to taking things personally and blaming others.
  4. Do recognize that everyone has their own struggles and life story.

Emotional Reasoning is when you are looking for external causes for your feelings. For instance: “I am anxious, so I must be in danger.” “I feel judged; this means that people are judging me.”

What to do:

  • Apply Double Standard Technique; instead of beating up on yourself mercilessly, pretend that you are talking to a friend with the same problem. Naturally, you will be more caring and practical. Try the same approach be a friend to yourself.
  • Practice Socratic Method: question to expose contradictions in your thoughts and ideas. Put yourself in the hot seat and find holes in your beliefs. Under pressure with critical thinking, reasoning, and logic, you will notice how a change in facts can change your perspective.

Hopefully, this piece and the previous posts have given you a solid understanding of irrational thoughts based on hidden assumptions that we can all experience at one time or another. Whether you are struggling with mental health or not, it helps evaluate our thinking patterns now and then. Yes, the introspection, either by tackling your own struggles or seeking out CBT Therapy, is extremely valuable. It helps us live a productive life by patching up the negativity and building resilience.

 

Artwork by Maja Borowicz

How to Avoid Irrational Beliefs – Part 1

Generally, our brains are wired to control our thoughts and make connections to find solutions to our problems. However, some of these connections are not true or non-helpful since they are based on faulty patterns or biased perspectives on ourselves and the world around us.

These cognitive distortions are often hard to recognize as they have been reinforced as part of our daily thoughts. Even though they come in many forms, irrational beliefs share a commonality, such as a pattern of thinking; they are flawed and potentially damage our mental well-being.

Here are 3 tendencies out of 11 that we will explore in this post:

The fallacy of change – It involves two different but related beliefs that are damaging and inaccurate:

  1. For instance, being helpless and a victim of fate: “the quality of the report was mediocre since my manager gave me a brief the other day.
  2. Being in complete control of ourselves and our surroundings, hence feeling responsible for the pain and happiness of those around us. For instance: “Are you sad because of me?” 

Remind yourself that complete control is faulty reasoning since no one has absolute control over their situation or other people. Even in a crisis, you might not choose what you do or where you go, but you certainly have a choice over how you mentally approach the event.

Polarized thinking or black and white thinking is irrational thinking characterized by the “all or nothing” principle. These individuals tend to think in extremes, which are either impressive or terrible, and have unrealistic expectations. They are often easily annoyed, feel bitter, and disappointed due to their inability or unwillingness to see gray shades. For instance: an extremely competitive person believes that he/she should be “number one or nothing at all.”

Overgeneralization – This is when you use excessive language in your assessment of people or events. For instance, when you are in a hurry and other drivers are not moving fast enough or are stopped by red lights. So you start generalizing this event to an overall pattern. In this example, the individual’s focus is only on red lights! Or you have failed an exam, and you decide that you are stupid or a failure. The way you evaluate your situation and the language you use matters since you will respond to the pattern instead of just that particular event.

Being aware of your predispositions will help you improve your ways of thinking and mental health. To start, notice how you talk to yourself and examine your assumptions. Identify harmful beliefs and challenge them.

 

 

Featured Artwork by Jeffrey Dirkse