Do you often feel worthless? Do you always suffer setbacks? Does little ever seem to go right for you?
This mostly happens because of the way you see the world and the way you choose to speak and act. Your beliefs.
Sadly, most of our fundamental beliefs about the world are not based on rational choices or truth. Many of our actions are based on false beliefs we have acquired in time.
When there’s a difference between the goals you set for yourself and your actual behavior, it is likely that irrational beliefs are guiding your actions.
6 Common Irrational Beliefs
According to Dr. Albert Ellis, an irrational belief:
- distorts reality
- is illogical
- prevents you from reaching your goals
- leads to unhealthy emotions
- leads to self-defeating behavior
Here are 6 of the most common irrational beliefs people have:
1. Everyone must like me or I will be a worthless person
Trying to be everything to everyone is exhausting. But more precise, it’s unsustainable.
Eventually, the pressure of always trying to figure out how other people want you to behave becomes overwhelming.
In order to be truly happy, you must live the real you. But all too often, finding the real you is complicated, and the process takes time and effort.
2. Other people must treat me nicely or else they are bad
Maybe you go around thinking everyone else’s behavior is about you, or maybe you still have the childhood remnant of the “black an white” view of the world, so you often fail to see the middle ground.
We might believe we are better than others for many reasons. Whatever they are, we miss the human potential and possibilities of the next person.
Often, when we evaluate a person as bad, we are just exaggerating the event or magnifying some words’ meaning.
3. I am not as lucky as others
It’s hard to admit that we lack the skills we need so we can get what we want in life. This is why we find subconscious excuses, that help us feel good about ourselves.
When you say that you are not lucky, you actually mean that you didn’t find another explanation for failing to achieve your goal, other than believing you have no luck.
The Roman Philosopher Seneca said:
Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.
This means that the time and effort you put into doing something is what determines your so-called “luck”. Opportunity arrives for everyone, lucky or not. When it comes your way, it must find you well prepared!
4. I must follow my passion so I can have a fulfilled career
What “follow your passion” means is that you have an innate vocation, waiting for you to discover and follow. If you can discover it and abandon your previous life and preoccupation, in order to follow it, your working life will become pleasant and fulfilling.
Then, you get to spend the rest of your life asking yourself whether there is a bigger passion hidden inside you, waiting to be discovered.
How about you cultivate a passion of your choice instead? And learn to see your life as a big opportunity to develop many passions?
5. I can’t choose what to do in life, because life must be hard so it can be valuable
One sad result of the fact that we are such social oriented creatures is that we’re extremely concerned with the opinions and doubts of other people, especially those we love.
The problem appears when what you want conflicts with what the people around you accept and believe possible.
A telltale sign that you have this irrational belief is the initial shot of excitement over a particular career path, but then wind up avoiding it completely. This avoidance is rooted in your social sense. The social sense tells you that people in your life might judge such a career decision, or belittle your choice. You retreat so you can get rid of this social discomfort. This is why “the easy way” is much harder in the long run.
6. My past is the most important part of my life and it will always influence how I feel and what I do
We love stories and we cherish ours the most. We love our story so much, that we define ourselves by our past choices. If we try to give up on our past, we feel depersonalized.
This irrational belief prevents you from setting goals that seem fit for a different person than who you’ve been until today. For example, if you’ve always been poor, it is hard for you to believe that you will become rich, whatever you try to do.
How to Change Your Mindset
Jane is a 28 years old successful architect. However, she left childhood with a low self-esteem she wasn’t able to heal, even if now her career success proves the hurtful 5th graders, that used to call her fat and stupid, wrong.
This is why she is highly sensitive to being ignored by other people. She constantly monitors for signs that people might not like her. As a result of this attitude and the reactions she looks for, she retains her irrational belief without enough evidence. As a result, it’s hard for her to create the social network she needs, so she can further advance on her career path and eventually reach her goals.
We are all in Jane’s place regarding one or another aspect of our lives and we all have our own irrational beliefs that keep us from getting what we want in life.
1. Become aware of your actions
The first step to stop feeding your irrational beliefs is to become aware of how often these ideas come to mind and write them down.
2. Question the evidence
You can examine the FACTS: If the things that actually happen contradict your belief, then the latter is clearly false.
3. Put your beliefs to the test
You can do this simply by answering the following questions about the thought or belief:
- Is there any proof, in reality, to support this belief as always being true?
- Does this thought encourage personal growth, emotional maturity, independence of thinking and action?
- Does this belief protect me? What from?
- Does this thought help me honestly and openly connect with others?
- What is the worst thing that could happen to me if I do not hold on to this belief?
- What positive things might happen to me if I do not hold on to this thought?
4. Counseling or Psychotherapy
You can choose between individual and group psychotherapy. Irrational Beliefs are successfully addressed by the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). However, other forms of psychotherapy can equally help.
5. Replace your irrational beliefs with useful and goal-oriented ones
The trick is, you have to really believe the new ideas you mold for yourself. This is why you have to go through the entire process:
- become aware of your irrational beliefs
- question their evidence
- put them to the test
- replace them with rational, goal-oriented beliefs
Take the first step now and become aware of one irrational belief that keeps you from reaching your goals!
Share your experience with us in the comments!