How to replace irrational beliefs with rational ones. And why?

How to replace irrational beliefs with rational ones. And why? KNOW YOURSELF

How to replace irrational beliefs with rational ones. And why?

When burning jealousy, guilt, anxiety or other strong emotions make your life difficult, try to figure out what thoughts caused it. Perhaps they are not very realistic and even harmful? Cognitive-behavioral psychologists are engaged in the work of recognizing and weakening such thoughts, but part of it can be done independently. The psychotherapist Dmitry Frolov explains.

Thousands of thoughts constantly rush through our heads. Many of them arise without our conscious desire. They are often fragmentary, fleeting and elusive, can be realistic and not very. Of course, it makes no sense to analyze each of them.

Determine the reason

If you notice that the mood is bothering you, then determine the emotion and ask yourself: “What am I thinking about now that can cause this emotion?” After analyzing the thoughts that you find, you will most likely be able to deal with the problem. In rational-emotional behavioral therapy (REPT), the main cause of unhealthy emotions is considered to be irrational beliefs, there are only four of them:

  1. Commitment
  2. Global rating
  3. Disastrous
  4. Frustration intolerance.

1. Requirements (“obligation”)

These are absolutist demands on ourselves, others, and the world to meet our desires. “I should always like people if I want this,” “I must succeed,” “I must not suffer,” “men must be able to earn.” The irrationality of the requirement is that it is impossible to prove that something “should” or “must” be just like this and not otherwise. Moreover, the “requirement” is the most widespread, basic among all beliefs; it is easy to detect it in a person suffering from depression, some kind of anxiety disorder, or one of the forms of addiction.

2. “Global assessment”

This is the depreciation or idealization of oneself and others as a person or the world as a whole: “colleague moron”, “I am a loser”, “world is evil”. The mistake is that we believe that complex entities can be reduced to certain generalizing characteristics.

3. “Catastrophization” (“horror”)

This perception of trouble is as bad as possible. “It’s awful if my colleagues don’t like me”, “it’s awful if they fire me,” “if my son gets a deuce on the exam, it will be a disaster!” This belief contains an irrational view of a negative event as something worse, similar to the end of the world. But in the world there is not something terrible, there is always something that is even worse. And in a bad event there are positive sides for us.

4. “Intolerance to frustration”

This attitude to complex things as unbearably complex. “I won’t survive if they fire me,” “if she leaves me, I won’t bear it!” That is, if an undesirable event occurs or the desired does not happen, then an endless streak of suffering and pain will begin. This belief is irrational because there is no suffering that does not subside or cease. However, it alone does not help to resolve the problem situation.

Challenge illogical beliefs

Illogical, rigid, irrational beliefs are for everyone. The only question is how quickly we are able to deal with them, translate into rational ones and not succumb to them. Most of the work that a REPT psychotherapist does is challenge these ideas.

Challenge “Duty” – means to understand that neither ourselves, nor other people, nor the world are required to meet our desires. But, fortunately, we can try to influence ourselves, others and the world so that our desires become a reality. Having realized this, a person can replace the absolutist demand in the form of “must”, “necessary”, “obliged”, “necessary” with a rational wish “I would like people to like”, “I want to succeed / earn money”.

Challenge Global Assessment – means to understand that no one can be generally “bad”, “good”, “loser” or “cool”. Each has advantages, disadvantages, achievements and failures, the significance and scale of which are subjective and relative.

To challenge the “catastrophic” you can, reminding yourself that although there are many very, very bad phenomena in the world, but none of them can be worse.

Disputing “intolerance to frustration”, we will come to the idea that the world really has many complex phenomena, but hardly anything can be called truly unbearable. In this way, we will weaken irrational beliefs and strengthen rational ones.

How to replace irrational beliefs with rational ones. And why?

In theory, this seems pretty straightforward. In practice, it is extremely difficult to resist the beliefs that I have absorbed since childhood or adolescence – under the influence of parents, the school environment and our own experience. This work is most effective in collaboration with a therapist.

But to try to question your thoughts and beliefs – reformulate, change – in some cases, you can do it yourself. It is best to do this in writing, disputing each belief step by step.

1. First reveal emotionthat you are currently feeling (anger, jealousy, or, say, depression).

2. Determine whether it is healthy or not. If unhealthy, then look for irrational beliefs.

3. Then identify the event that triggered it: did not receive a message from an important person, did not congratulate on his birthday, did not call for some party, on a date. You need to understand that an event is just a trigger. In fact, we are not upset by a specific event, but by the fact that we think about it and how we interpret it.

Accordingly, our task is to change the attitude towards what is happening. And for this – to understand what irrational belief is hidden behind unhealthy emotion. It can be only one belief (for example, “demand”), or it can be several.

4. Engage in a Socratic dialogue. Its essence is to ask questions and try to honestly answer them. This is a skill that we all have, it only needs to be developed.

The first type of question is empirical. Ask yourself the following questions in sequence: Why did I decide that it was? What evidence is there? Where is it written that they should have called for this birthday? What facts prove this? And it soon becomes clear that there is no such rule — a person who did not call, simply forgot, or was shy, or thought that this company is not too interesting for you — there can be many different reasons. A rational conclusion might be this: “I do not like that they did not call me, but it happens. They should not have done that. ”

The second type of argument is pragmatic, functional. And what benefit does this belief bring me? How does the belief that they should call me for a birthday help me? And usually it turns out that this does not help. Rather, on the contrary, it is frustrating. A rational conclusion may be this: “I want to be called for my birthday, but I understand that they may not call, no one is obligated.”

This wording (“I want”) motivates to take some steps, look for resources and opportunities in order to achieve the goal. It is important to remember that, abandoning absolutist obligations, we do not abandon the idea that we do not like something. On the contrary, we better understand our dissatisfaction with the situation. But at the same time we are aware: it is what it is, and we really want to change it.

A rational “I really want, but should not” is more effective than an irrational “should” in solving problems and achieving goals. In a dialogue with oneself, it’s good to use metaphors, images, examples from films and books that reflect your belief and somehow refute it. For example, to find a film where the hero was not loved, betrayed, condemned, and see how he coped with this situation. This work is different for each person.

Its complexity depends on the strength of beliefs and their prescription, on receptivity, mentality and even the level of education. It is not always possible to immediately find exactly the conviction that needs to be challenged. Or pick up reasonably good arguments against. But if one devotes introspection to several days, at least 30 minutes a day, then the irrational beliefs can be revealed and weakened. And you will immediately feel the result – this is a feeling of lightness, inner freedom and harmony.

About the author: Dmitry Frolov – psychiatrist, psychotherapist, chairman of the REBT section of the Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, author of the book “Psychotherapy and What Does It Eat?” (AST, 2019).
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