Self-Care Strategies: Three Steps to Change Irrational Beliefs

“This shouldn’t be happening!” “This is unfair!” “I do not deserve for this to happen to me.” Have you ever said something along these lines in a moment of exasperation?

According to an article in The Week titled “Changing these 4 beliefs will make you surprisingly happy,” people often hold irrational beliefs reflected in sentiments like these without even realizing it. Renowned psychologist Albert Ellis points out that “beliefs are what cause the majority of unhappiness, anger, and anxiety you experience.” The number one irrational belief is that life is fair, and when things don’t go as we would like, we have the right to be extremely angry. You’ve likely encountered this irrational belief without realizing it at work or in daily life.

The author of the article suggests three steps to battle an irrational belief—identify the underlying belief, dispute that belief, and replace the belief. In other words,

  1. Pause with the issue and identify the root problem. If you are having trouble identifying the root problem, discuss these issues with a partner, spouse, friend or family member.
  2. Dispute the interpretation of the problem as being irrational. Is there any way that your belief is rational?
  3. Then replace the irrational belief with a reasonable stance. Everyone would prefer to be treated fairly in all ways, but things are not always going to work out that way. Are there are other steps you could take to prevent the problem or your reaction to a problem?

The overall message should be, don’t be surprised when life does not go the way you want it to go. By replacing an irrational belief such as “This shouldn’t be happening!” it can decrease your stress levels and improve their decision-making.

To learn about the other three irrational beliefs in the article, click here.

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