I don’t particularly like lists, especially those which profess some psychological insight. That said, Albert Ellis, a behavioural psychologist who founded Rational Emotive Therapy, came up with a list that I found useful as reminders to disengage and not take beliefs so seriously. It covers a wide range of human experiences and wide set of difficulties. The irrationality of beliefs is very strong in our society, and buying into them often has a detrimental effect on being.
Albert Ellis believed that thinking could be controlled, and in turn we could control our emotions with thinking. The superficiality of this approach is not particularly workable, as it does not address the full gamut of the human experience. Yet it should not be dismissed altogether, as it can be helpful in aiding us to disengage from negative patterns.
As long as we remember that they are not meant as deep and insightful strategies but rather work more along the lines of pattern disruption, Ellis’ list has some usefulness in my opinion.
In case you’ve never noticed, there’s a considerable overlap between Albert Ellis and Byron Katie. We can understand Katie’s “The Work” as essentially a type of cognitive/behavioural psychology approach with some eastern sayings thrown in. Hence the similarities.
Listed below are some of the most common irrational beliefs that frequently come into consciousness. Challenging them by learning to question them is a good way to disrupt destructive life patterns.
Ten Irrational Beliefs
I need the approval of others in order to be happy.
A person who behaves badly should be punished.
I should be terribly unhappy when something goes wrong.
If I avoid thinking about a problem, it will go away by itself.
I can’t face life without help from someone bigger, smarter, stronger, or better.
If I make a mistake or fail at a project, I should be extremely upset.
I will always be held back by negative things that happened to me in the past.
I need to be in control all the time.
I can be happy without taking an active role in getting the life I want.
When I experience a negative emotion, I can’t do anything about it.