Albert Ellis is one of the great thinkers in psychotherapy. He is the father of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which is a form of cognitive therapy that looks at our beliefs and how they impact the way we feel about ourselves, others, our lives and the world in which we live. REBT is an action-oriented psychotherapy that teaches individuals to identify, challenge, and replace their self-defeating thoughts and beliefs with healthier thoughts that promote emotional well-being and goal achievement. Here is a list of 12 lies we tell ourselves, according to Albert Ellis:
1. I must have the love and approval of others. I must avoid disapproval at all costs.
2. I must be perfect and a success in all that I do. I must not make any mistakes.
3. People must always do the “right” thing. When they do not, they must be punished.
4. Things must be the way I want them to be, otherwise life will be intolerable.
5. My happiness (or unhappiness) is caused by external events. I have no control over my happiness (or unhappiness).
6. I must worry about things that are dangerous, unpleasant or frightening; otherwise they might actually happen.
7. I will be happier if I can avoid all of life’s difficulties, unpleasantness or repsonsibilites.
8. I am weak and must depend on those who are stronger than I am.
9. Events in my past must strongly influence me, and they will continue to do so.
10. I must be upset when others have problems. I must be sad when others are unhappy.
11. I should not have to feel discomfort or pain. I must avoid feeling them at all cost.
12. There is one right and perfect solution to any problem.
As an experiment, begin noticing what your are telling yourself. We all have an ongoing, internal narrative that is often on auto-pilot. If you can begin to identify and challenge some of your self-defeating thoughts, you might be surprised at how your emotional well-being might improve. For instance, if you notice yourself thinking that you are not allowed to make mistakes, ask yourself if others are also not allowed to make mistakes? Where is it written that you are not allowed to make mistakes? Who made “no mistakes allowed” a cardinal truth? What are some of the good things that can come of the mistakes that we make? Albert Einstein said that “a person who never made a mistake is a person who has never tried anything new. ” This is how you begin challenging your faulty beliefs.
Until next time, Peace.