As always please excuse any typos or grammatical errors
In part 6 we hit the first two self defeating beliefs, now we will just dive right in to some more. Why waste time, right?
People should always do the right thing. When they behave obnoxiously, unfairly, or selfishly, they must be blamed and punished.
Now who hasn’t thought something along these lines damn near daily? That guy that just cut me off in traffic certainly needs castration! This is yet another of the big pits we fall into. I believe this self defeating belief is the biggest cause of anger and frustration in most of us humans.
So what does this look like on a day to day basis?
“I cannot believe he dumped her! He is such an ass. I hate him! There is no way you should let her talk to you that way! You need to do something about it! It’s my birthday and he asked me to rub his feet?! What the hell?!
All of those statements are most likely to cause a rather large emotional reaction. Most likely anger, although they can also illicit frustration, and through further negative self-talk about the event , depression, self-doubt, sadness and others.
So why aren’t these rational? Well by now I would hope you could easily tell me but let’s go through it anyway. They aren’t rational because they assume that everyone is going to behave as we think they should at all times.
They will always use a blinker. They will always be thoughtful and kind. They will always choose what you would choose for yourself. Well that would be one boring life it things worked like that. Also, it is holding others to standards you yourself cannot hope to achieve. The simple fact is – we all have bad days. We all have bad moments where we might be in our heads and forget to turn on the blinker, not pay attention to what was said around us, walk past a friend and not even say hi, not be the best conversationalist in the room, make bad decisions for ourselves, and otherwise act…..human.
So why exactly would we wind ourselves up over others acting human, making mistakes as we do, or simply because they are not behaving as we think they should? What good is it doing us to be angry? It’s certainly not helping us be happy and healthy.
Does this mean we have to take others rude behavior with a smile? Certainly not. It just means that we should be telling ourselves rational things about the events. Those rational things will allow us to make clear level headed decisions.
So again, how would that look?
Your best friend has a bit too much to drink, and now is hitting on you and being loud and obnoxious about it in the process – in front of your friends!
Well a rational approach to it would look like this – Well Steve is normally just about the nicest guy I know and he’s never hit on me before. I can live through this night and forgive his actions because I’m sure he’ll be as embarrassed by his actions tomorrow as I am by them tonight.
Or if Steve isn’t so nice of a guy – Geeze, I should really reevaluate my friendship with Steve. I know there are things I like about him, but I think I might prefer finding better friends than this.
As long as we are not telling ourselves that Steve absolutely must not behave the way he is, we are in little danger of getting too upset over his behavior. However it doesn’t also mean we have to ignore it. We can, and should calmly assess the situation and make rational decisions on it.
Let’s look at the next self defeating belief.
Things must be the way I want them to be, otherwise life will be intolerable.
Well isn’t that special.
I certainly wish this one weren’t so prevalent, but alas in a society that seems to get more entitled as time goes on, it sure seems to be becoming a major issue. In yesteryear we were told to just suck it up when things went poorly. When we didn’t get out way. Now, it seems that getting things our way is the norm. We have safe spaces in universities with those same universities actually lobbying against free speech.
However, sooner or later these young folks enter the real world and find out that no one really cares what they want. Now what? Time for some rational thinking.
Unlike what you’ve been told time and again – you deserve nothing. The universe owes you nothing. You are but a grain of sand on one beach on one planet. The universe doesn’t care what you want and the sooner you come to grips with that the sooner you will become less frustrated by how life goes.
We would be better suited to deal with things not going our way if we told ourselves rational things about the events. Things such as – well most things in my life go right, my being still alive proves that, I can handle this one thing not going the way I wanted. I might not like it, but it is tolerable.
Or I could say. Damn, that didn’t go the way I planned. Hopefully next time my hard work will pay off or I might just get lucky. Either way, nothing I can do about it this time.
Real world examples of how this self defeating belief might manifest itself could be you not getting the job you wanted most. The guy or girl that you wanted most might not be interested in you in return. Your parents might not lend you the money you need. All these situations might be inconvenient, but they are certainly not the end of the world. Don’t make them such.
My unhappiness is caused by things outside my control so there is little I can do to feel any better.
Personally I blame a lot if this thinking on the media. We are bombarded with this kind of thinking in so many shows that perpetuate the myth that circumstances create happiness or unhappiness. They sell people on the notion that other people make us happy or unhappy.; that our jobs create our moods. This one self -defeating belief is also possibly the biggest stumbling block to people getting better. They simply cannot fathom that they are responsible for themselves. They have control of all of their feelings. I have had a lot of people already read or watch these videos that have had the eureka moment where they see a bit of light, but the work needed to change things stops them from proceeding. It’s easier to just fall back to believing that it’s cosmic destiny, or gods will that you be miserable.
Ask yourself what version of this you tell yourself. Are you questioning the validity of the Foundations series? This self-defeating belief is more than likely the reason.
So what is the reality? What are the rational things we simply must tell ourselves to overcome this self-defeating belief?
We can start be just acknowledging the facts. Your thoughts cause your feelings and you can learn to control your thoughts. It’s not easy, but it is possible. Also, it helps to understand that your feelings and circumstances do not have to be related to each other. It is very true that many times you cannot control your circumstances. Job layoffs just happen at times. People come and go out of your life. Your health might not always be in your control. However it is simply NOT these circumstances that create our thoughts about them.
Let’s take a look at a pretty harsh example of what I mean. You just found out your wife and or husband has been seeing someone else for the last six months. They are in-love and are going to run off together. For most people this would be devastating news . They might have a whole host of self -defeating beliefs about the news. However, for someone like me and others that have been practicing how to think rationally for years, we are not likely to think of this in the same way.
Here is how I personally would think about the news:
Well that was surprising! It looks like my life is about to change in ways I am not prepared for. I better keep my wits about me and start getting prepared for a future without them.
Well, people do what they want to do. If she wanted to be with me, she would have found a way to do so. She obviously does want to be with this other person. I wish I would have found out sooner so I could get out and find someone that does see the value in me.
Wow, I didn’t see this coming. She didn’t see the value in our relationship. I should probably take a good hard look at myself and see what my own culpability in this might be and change those things up if I am going to have a successful relationship in the future. If I don’t learn from this I am destined to repeat it. However, I might find after real consideration that her actions had little to do to nothing to do with me. I just chose the wrong person. I better do a better job choosing my next partner.
There is a whole laundry list of things you can tell yourself about this event that will be helpful to your mental health and to your relationships in the future. I personally would refuse to see this as a negative event and would instead concentrate on making sure this is an opportunity for growth as a person. I might find myself missing their interactions with me, but I would remind myself that I have other options for my future and that I can and will do better next time.
So on to the next belief.
I must worry about things that could be dangerous, unpleasant or frightening – otherwise they might happen.
Well that isn’t very productive now is it? If we use this definition, we would be worried about damn near everything in life since so much of life can be seen as dangerous, unpleasant or frightening. In fact, the media and politicians live off of public fear. In order to move you, they believe they must make you afraid.
So with everyone trying to scare us, how do we go about overcoming this irrational idea?
I would say that, for me, this is the easiest one to overcome. I love life, and to live it means taking risks. Everything has risks. Getting in your car is more perilous than just about anything, but I love driving. This doesn’t mean we should not try to mitigate risk, it just means that we have to put things into perspective. It’s impossible to go through life avoiding the unpleasant or dangerous.
We could tell ourselves this – As soon as I was born there was the possibility of me dying. While I want to try to lessen the chances of dying, I can’t avoid all risks and worrying over things that I cannot control only hurts me.
I might dislike unpleasant things but worrying over them before they happen seems a perfect way to defeat my happiness right now.
The problem with worrying over things that are not controllable is that you are guaranteed to be emotionally disturbed now. It’s not rational in that it inhibits happiness and causes stress. Why would you want to do that to yourself?
I think I will wrap things up here for part 7. Study these four self defeating beliefs and work on your own rational counterparts. For part 8 I will try to go through the last of the self defeating beliefs and then we can work on wrapping up my Foundations series.
I am Diego Abrams and this is Triscele Life and Relationships