Are you a rational thinker?

These irrational beliefs can make you miserable:

1. It is an absolute necessity for an adult to have love and approval from peers, family, and friends.

In fact, it is impossible to please all the people in your life.

2. You must be unfailingly competent and almost perfect in all you undertake.

The result of that belief is self blame for failure, which is inevitable for anybody, lowered self-esteem, perfectionistic standards applied to others, and fear of attempting anything.

3. Certain people are evil, wicked, and villainous and should be punished.

Certain people are behaving in ways that are antisocial or inappropriate.

They are perhaps acting stupidly or neurotically, and it would be well if their behavior were different. Your life need not be ruined because that other person is not punished, unless you decide that is so. If so, it is your decision that makes you miserable, not that other person.

Keep in mind: Their behavior is what they are doing. It is their problem. What they do does not re-define you. If what they did was harmful, that harm may be in the past.

If they are still harming you, the proper strategy is to avoid the harm, not resent the person. That may include getting away from the environment.

It has been said that resentment is like taking poison, and expecting the other person to die.

It is said that "all understood, all forgiven." For example, you are walking down a street, and you bump into somebody. You turn to say something angrily to him, and you see he has dark glasses and a white cane. He is blind. Suddenly, you are not angry.

I once knew a woman at my workplace, who was rude and insulting, and I disliked her a lot, and steered a wide path around her. One day she was gone, and returned a few days later, having had surgery on her thyroid. After that, she was the nicest person you would ever want to know. If I had known that, I would have thought differently of her from the beginning.

Most of the time we don't know what is behind a person's behavior, but we can remind ourselves that if we did, we would think differently of them.

4. It is horrible when people and things are not the way you would want them to be.

When something goes wrong, the self talk starts: "Why did this happen to me?" "I can't take this. It's awful." Such awfulizing self-statements tend to magnify all problems.

One's self talk can make the awfulness worse, and the self talk true -- One can't take this because he decided he can't. (That's also called the self-fulfilling prophecy.)

It's a big world, and the ways people can be is without limit. You are bound to meet many people in a lifetime, who are not as you would want them to be. You can't change the world, but you can cope with it.

As for chance events, remember the law of averages says that "If something can happen, given enough chances, sooner or later it will. That applies to both good and bad luck.

It is also possible that something one is thinking of can't happen. For example, I will never win a gold medal in the Olympics. This would be true even if I were very young and tried a lot. Sometimes it just isn't in the cards.

5. "External events cause most human misery." People simply react as events trigger their emotions.

The extension to this belief is that you must control the external events in order to create happiness and avoid sorrow. Since there is a limit to our power to do this, we are at a loss to completely manipulate the wills of others. A sense of helplessness and chronic anxiety results.

What I do is one thing. How you react to it is another. I do not automatically control your feelings, as if you were my puppet. (or vise versa) If the world must change before you can be happy, you will be waiting a long time. If you can deal with the world and your happiness independently of each other, you have a better shot at it.

If I say "he made me mad," I am talking of two different things. 1.) He did something, and

2.) I also got mad. Those two things can be handled separately.

6. You should feel fear or anxiety about anything that is unknown, uncertain, or potentially dangerous.

The increasing anxiety which results, only makes coping more difficult, and reduces the probability of a useful solution.

7. It is easier to avoid than to face life's difficulties and responsibilities. Maximum happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction or by passively and uncommittedly "enjoying oneself."

"A leaky faucet won't hurt anything," "I'm too tired on my days off to look for another job," "We could shop today, but the car is making a funny sound." Problems have a way of creeping up on you, whether you avoid them or not.

8. You need something or someone stronger or greater than yourself to rely on.

Expecting that other people can do more than you, better than you, or somehow have more authority or power than you, limits you from awareness of your particular strengths and use of your independent judgment. There are times when others can do something better than you, and times when they can't.

9. The past has a lot to do with determining the present.

Because you were once strongly affected by something does not mean that you must continue the habits you formed to cope with the original situation. You can change the way you respond to life, in the present day. You can re-invent your life every day of the year.

10. You are helpless and have no control over what you experience or feel.

We not only exert considerable influence over interpersonal situations, but we also control how we interpret and respond to each life event.

11. If you don't go to great lengths to please others, they will abandon or reject you.

This belief is a by-product of low self-esteem. Compared to yourself, how much must OTHER people resort to, to avoid being rejected? What would make you so different? What is the worst consequence of being rejected by that particular person?

Is it necessary to be accepted by 100% of everybody you meet? Do you know anybody who can be accepted by 100% of everybody they meet?

If you behave as if you are afraid of rejection, how much are you really appreciated? How much are you just taken advantage of, when you do that?

12. When people disapprove of you, it invariably means you are wrong or bad.

The irrationality is contained in the generalization of one specific fault or unattractive feature, to a total indictment of the self. If it is true that you are clumsy, or not mechanically inclined, or fat, or whatever, that does not remove every positive quality from yourself. If somebody does not approve, that does not mean their disapproval is necessarily warranted.

If you were clumsy, that would not make you bad. If you were poor, that would not make you wrong or bad or worthless. If you accept such ideas, you set yourself up for falsely assuming that you do not deserve good things to happen to you, or that other people have a right to control you.

Conversely, "if people disapprove of you, that means THEY are wrong or bad."

Nope. Not that one either. Maybe they are wrong, but maybe not. Maybe they have malicious motives, but maybe not. You can evaluate their judgement, and profit from it if you choose. Or you can decide they are in error, and dispense with that opinion. It need not bother you, unless you allow it to do so.

13. Happiness, pleasure and fulfillment can only occur in the presence of others, and being alone is horrible.

Pleasure, self worth, and fulfillment can be experienced alone as well as with others. Being alone is growth producing and desirable at times.

14. There is a perfect love and a perfect relationship.

People who believe this often feel resentful of one close relationship after another. Nothing is quite right because they are waiting for the perfect fit. That never comes for them, or for anybody else.

15. You shouldn't have to feel pain. You are entitled to

a good life.

Pain is an inevitable part of human life. It frequently accompanies tough, healthy decisions and the process of growth. Life is not fair, and sometimes you will suffer no matter what you do. If you mentally insist that life should be fair, you make yourself miserable in doing so.

16. Your life can not be happy until ( X ) happens.

If you are waiting to make a million dollars, or marry a movie star, or for an alcoholic relative to sober up, or for something else to happen before you can be happy, you may be waiting a long time.

We can be happy without a thing of our choosing happening first. If we decide that the opposite is true, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once we have become convinced that we will not be happy until that happens, then we make that true for us.

It is even possible that we will get the thing we wished for, and then discover that it didn't bring the happiness we thought it would.

There is a concept called "externalizing" That refers to confusing the external world with one's feelings. For example, if we say "He made me mad," we are talking about two different things. He did something, and also, I got angry. Those are separate things, and can be dealt with separately.

There is no need to change the world or to change the past in order to feel better. In fact, it is impossible to do those things, so if that is what it takes, then it would be impossible to feel better. Fortunately, it isn't.

If we have a resentment, trying to feel better when reminded of it might seem to some people like "letting the other guy off the hook." Surprise! He's already off the hook. Eating yourself up about it doesn't hurt him a bit. You are only hurting yourself.

Helping yourself to feel better does no favors for the one who offended you. It only does a favor for yourself. The best revenge is a life well lived. The worst is to display your anguish to your offender, if his purpose had been to cause that anguish.

17. My life is unique, and what works for others or fails to work for others, does not apply to me.

Believe it or not, though your story seems like one in a universe, similar things have happened to many others. Otherwise, it would be impossible to study counseling and psychotherapy as a science and an art to help others.

People all over the world have been physically and mentally abused, have suffered misfortune of every kind, and have used better and worse means of coping with those. There truly is something to be learned from the experiences of others, which will benefit you.

The Cognitive Model

Our thoughts influence how we feel (emotionally and physiologically) and act.

Thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physiology are interrelated.

Depressed clients have distorted thinking processes. In particular, they ehibited negative beliefs about themselves, their world around them, and their future. (Cognitive triad)

Levels of thought

There are three levels of thought -- automatic thoughts, intermediate beliefs, and core beliefs.

Automatic thoughts -- thoughts that pop up into our minds. They are not deliberate thoughts. They tend to be brief, fleeting thoughts that are at the pre-conscious level of awareness. They can be positive or negative in nature. They may be true, untrue, or have a grain of truth.

There are two types of automatic thoughts -- self talk and imagery.

Intermediate beliefs -- These are beliefs that fall between automatic thoughts and core beliefs. They are often unconscious beliefs. They can be positive or negative in nature.

There are three types of intermediate beliefs: conditional assumptions, rules, and attitudes.

Conditional Assumptions: If...then format. If a condition is met, then a consequence is anticipated. These are cause-effect statements that may or may not be true. They can be positive or negative in nature.

Rules: These are clients' fixed ideas about themselves and life. They come in the form of "shoulds" and "musts."

Attitudes: People have certain attitudes about themselves, their relationships with others, and their future. If their attitudes are negative, they usually come in the form of how "horrible," "terrible," or "bad" their lives are.

Core beliefs: The underlying central beliefs people have about themselves, their world, and their future. These unconscious beliefs tend to be rigid, global, and all encompassing in nature. ("truths")

There are two basic categories of core beliefs: Lovability and incompetence or inadequacy.

Dealing With Our Thoughts

When we do respond to our thoughts and feelings, we can do so through the process of self-compassion (i.e., being kind to ourselves, realizing we are not alone with our experiences, and being aware of our experiences without judgment) and engaging in guided discovery (i.e. using the scientific method, viewing our thoughts as possibilities / hypotheses and not facts, collecting data / evidence, evaluating the accuracy and utility of our thoughts, and taking a more balanced view of ourselves and our lives.)


( a corrupted version of the 12 steps of AA)

Note: This was probably written by an AA member, who has watched a lot of people "screw it up" by doing it their 

own way, and sabotaging themselves.

1.) I stated that I could stop my compulsive behavior, and was master of my life.

2.) Believed I was sane and rational in every respect.

3.) Decided to run my life and other peoples', and would be successful in all my undertakings.

4. )Made a thorough and searching inventory of my family and my fellow man, and found them all lacking.

5.) Admitted to no one, especially myself, that there was anything wrong with me.

6.) Was entirely ready at all times to blame everything on everybody else.

7.) Continually told my family and friends to remove all their shortcomings.

8.) Made a list of all persons who had harmed me and swore never to forgive them.

9.) Got even with people whenever possible, except when to do so would further injure me.

10.) Continued to find fault with the world and the people in it, and when I was right, promptly admitted it.

11.) Sought through nagging and criticizing other people to improve them, praying only for people to listen to me.

12.) After having a complete moral, physical and financial breakdown as a result of this kind of living, I tried to tell others how hard I had tried, and continued to practice these reasonings in all my affairs.

(A reversed and confused writing of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a formula for totally screwing it up, and it happens every day.)

* Most of these relate to a thinking error called "externalizing." That is, if I say "He made me mad," I am talking about two things-- He did something, and also I got mad. They can be dealt with separately (and should be.)  

I can't change the past, and I can't change the whole world. I don't have the power to change most things that have offended or obstructed me. I do have the power to change my thinking and my feelings. And I have the power to change how I approach problems.


If we have a resentment, trying to feel better when reminded of it might seem to some people like "letting the other guy off the hook." Surprise! He's already off the hook. Eating yourself up about it doesn't hurt him a bit. You are only hurting yourself.

Helping yourself to feel better does no favors for the one who offended you. It only does a favor for yourself. The best revenge is a life well lived. The worst is to display your anguish to your offender.

1. Everybody Doesn't Have to Love Me.

Not everybody has to love me, or even like me. I don't necessarily like everybody I know, so should everybody like me? I don't need approval all the time. If someone does not approve of me, I will still be O.K.

2. It is O.K. To Make Mistakes

Making mistakes is something we all do, and I am still a worthwhile person when I make mistakes. It is O.K. for others to make mistakes, too. I will accept mistakes in myself and also mistakes that others make.

3. Other People are O.K. and I Am O.K.

People who do things I don't like are not necessarily bad people. I can not control other people, or change them. They are who they are; we all deserve basic respect and reasonable treatment.

4. I Don't Have to Control Things

I will survive if things are different than what I want them to be. There is no reason why I should have to like everything. Even if I don't like it, I can live with it.

5. I am Responsible For My Day

Nobody can make me feel anything. If I have a rotten day, I allowed it to be that way. If I have a great day, I deserve the credit for being positive. It is not the responsibility of other people to change, so that I can feel better. I am in charge of my life.

6. I Can Handle it When Things Go Wrong

I don't have to look for things to go wrong. I don't have to waste my energy worrying. The sky won't fall in; things will work out.

7. It Is Important To Try

Even though faced with difficult tasks, it is better to try than to avoid them. Even if I fail, I will at least not wonder forever what might have happened, if I had only tried. Avoiding a task toes not give me any opportunities for success or joy, but trying does. Things worth having are worth the effort. I might not be able to do everything, but I can do something.

If you try and don't succeed, at least you will know you did your best. If you never try, you will never know if you could have succeeded, had you just tried, and may even regret that you did not at least make the attempt in earnest.

8. I Am Capable

I don't need someone else to take care of my problems. I can take care of myself. I can make decisions for myself... I can think for myself. I don't have to depend on somebody else to take care of me.

9. Other People Are Capable

I can't solve other people's problems for them. I don't have to take on other people's problems as if they were my own. I don't need to change other people, or fix up their lives. They are capable and can take care of themselves, and can solve their own problems. I can care and be of some help, but I can't do everything for them.

I can make myself aware if I am sincerely trying to help, or just meddling to try to control my environment or appear to be superior. I can also make myself aware of whether my un-requested "help" or advice is annoying the other person.

10. I Can Change.

I don't have to be a certain way because of what has happened in the past. Every day is a new day. It's silly to think I can't help being the way I am. Of course I can.

Sometimes that is just a dishonest excuse, to explain away bad behavior.

("Bad" may mean harmful, or just annoying, or perhaps unproductive or obviously unsuccessful behavior.)

11. I Can Be Flexible.

There is more than on way to do something. More than one person has good ideas that will work. There is no one and only "best way." Everybody has ideas that are worthwhile. Some may make more sense to me than others, but everyone has something worthwhile to contribute.


1. Everybody MUST love me.

2. I MUST be good at everything.

3. Some people are BAD, and MUST be punished (including myself.)

4. Things SHOULD be different.

5. It's your FAULT I feel this way.

6. I know something BAD will happen soon.

7. I need someone stronger than me.

8. It's easier NOT to even try.

9. I CAN'T HELP being this way.

10. I SHOULD get upset about your problems.

11. There's only one GOOD way to do it.

(The 11th commandment is -- Thou shall not SHOULD on thyself.)


1. I prefer...

2. I want...

3. I would really like it if...

4. I'd rather...

5. It's OK if...

6. I don't like...

7. I don't care for...

8. I'm responsible for...

9. It's my responsibility to...

10. It's up to me to...

11. I made myself feel...

12. It will be a little embarrassing, but I'll survive...

13. I hope ______ doesn't happen, but if it does, I'll be OK.

Using Cognitive Reframing

Think of a situation that you have responded to emotionally. Following the 6-step method of uncovering the distorted situation and restructure you thinking:

1. Recognize and label what you were feeling.

2. Describe the situation or experience that led to the emotions.

3. Identify the distorted self-talk.

4. Reward yourself for coping.

5. Rephrase the self-talk to be more positive and rational.

6. Recognize and label your emotion after the positive self-talk. What are you feeling now?

EXAMPLE: A wife feels unloved and taken for granted because her husband did not call today.

1. Feelings of being unloved, lonely, fear, anger.

2. Spouse hasn't called.

3. Distorted self-talk is that since he hasn't called, he must not love her, and doesn't consider her feelings.

4. Decide to talk with spouse about taking some time for the two of them to go away together for a few days.

5. Rephrase self-talk by thinking that her spouse must have gotten involved at work and did not have time to call. She can not expect her husband to call every day. It is irrational to base how her husband feels about her on whether he calls every day or not.

6. Wife feels more positive about herself and her relationship.

The Top 10 Things to Do when You feel You are Caught in a

Vicious, Inescapable Cycle

Sometimes when we are in a situation and can see no way out, we panic. We beat back and forth in our minds, so busy bumping into trees that we cannot see the paths through and out of the forest.

1. Sit back, breath deeply, exhale very slowly, and try to still your mind. Don't be like a butterfly that breaks its wings frantically beating against a window so that when it does get free it can't fly.

2. Visualize your situation as a magician's "Chinese ring." It looks solid, but you know there is a "break" somewhere. Your strategy is to find it.

3. Put the situation on paper, diagramming how each unit leads to another to another and back to the start - except that there does not SEEM to be a start or an end. Remember to include yourself as a unit if your behavior/attitude could lead to changes in the situation.

4. Consider each unit in turn. Is it the weak link? What are the pros and cons of breaking out of your situation through THAT point? Write them down for EACH unit, even the ones you believe could not be your exit point.

5. Consider each unit as a separate entity. How important is it? What are the consequences of changing it? What are the consequences of keeping it? What would it FEEL like to change it? (The feelings are important information.)

6. Discuss the possibilities, particularly whatever action seems most likely at this point, with someone you trust, preferably someone who is in a position to know about the ins and outs of your situation but does not have any vested personal interest.

7. Study the diagram and your notes, thoughts and feelings again, then put the problem aside for at least 24 hours. Leave it alone to simmer in your mind.

8. Often there will be an "aha!" at this point and the decision is made. If not, decide, based on the foregoing, which unit is the weakest link, and what step will take you out of the situation most advantageously. Remember that no decision is also a decision. To decide to do nothing is to choose to leave the situation as it is.

9. Take the step.

10. Feel the relief, and CELEBRATE!


Gamblers vs. Calculated Risk Takers: What's Luck Got To Do With It?

Every choice we make involves some kind of risk. Knowing the difference between a gamble and a calculated risk is essential to our success.

Calculated risk takers think the situation through and move only if they consider the possible loss to be manageable.


* Looks for excitement and danger.

* Jumps in with the crowd momentum, not wanting to be left out or left behind.

* Blames others or luck for bad outcome.

* Lingers over losing choices and wins not taken.

* Is influenced by unacknowledged fantasies of what is possible.

* Will risk more than he can afford to lose.

* Acts on impulsive decisions.

* Is unaware of unconscious motivations.

* Acts out of sense of superiority or magical thinking.

* Gets high and feels powerful on a win. Gets low and feels worthless and small on a loss.

* Lacks discipline and invests on wishful fantasy rather than recognizing reality.

* Hides losses and is secretive about taking chances.

* Procrastinates (building up excitement levels).

* Follows a favorite method no longer useful or irrelevant.

* When losing will take increasingly bigger risks to catch up.

* Looks for the one big win that will result in bliss.


* Contains and manages emotions.

* Is aware of irrational factors swaying a crowd.

* Takes responsibility for results.

* Does not waste time with what might have been.

* Acknowledges personal fantasies and resolves them or disregards them.

* Risks a tiny fraction of equity (i.e., time, money, relationships, health) on any individual choice.

* Concentrates on a realistic long-term strategy.

* Knows personal abilities and limitations.

* Is hardworking and open to new ideas.

* Stays emotionally even during wins and losses.

* Easily resists risks that do not fit within defined risk limitations.

* Is open about risk taking.

* Proceeds in a serious intellectual manner.

* Stays alert to present trends.

* Follows predetermined guidelines of safety.

* Analyzes situation, observes own reactions and makes realistic plans.

Calculated risk takers use as much energy analyzing themselves as the situation. Gamblers move with poor self-understanding.

Once we can take calculated risks we position ourselves for the best outcome possible. Then we can help make our own good luck.


By Mershon Shrigley

Business people are particularly susceptible to a common malady - burnout. In fact, this disease is so common that those who contract it could be part of their own club - the Burnout Club.

Being overachievers, members of the Burnout Club have crafted a set of rules and regulations that members must follow in order to remain in good standing. If you comply with all or many of the following rules, you could be a member too :)

The 10 Rules and Regulations to join the Burnout Club

1. Be a perfectionist, never accept anything that is less than perfect...especially in yourself.

2. Always eat "fast foods", candy bars and caffeinated beverages for that quick energy you need to "stay ahead".

3. Work at least 10 hours a day and as many holidays and weekends as possible.

4. Assume responsibility for solving the problems of all your friends, co-workers and family.

5. Try not to delegate any responsibilities. However, if you must, be sure to micro-manage the project.

6. Never "waste time" relaxing (in case you forgot i.e. contemplating by the fire or taking a bubble bath).

7. Never say "no" as this may not please all the people all of the time. Remember to put everyone else's needs before yours.

8. Never "waste time" exercising.

9. Never take time off for yourself...rarely take a vacation...and when you do, be sure to feel as guilty as possible.

10. Get emotionally involved in everything you do.

22 Irrational Thoughts for Ruining My Life 

(and maybe a few other people's, too.)

1. As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I am in touch with my inner sociopath.

2. I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

3. I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are someone else's fault.

4. I no longer need to punish, deceive, or compromise myself, unless I want to stay employed.

5. In some cultures what I do would be considered normal.

6. Having control over myself is almost as good as having control over others.

7. My intuition nearly makes up for my lack of self-judgement.

8. I honor my personality flaws for without them I would have no personality at all.

9. Joan of Arc heard voices, too.

10. I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

11. I need not suffer in silence while I can still moan, whimper, and complain.

12. As I learn the innermost secrets of people around me, they reward me in many ways to keep me quiet.

13. When someone hurts me, I know that forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as gratifying.

14. The first step is to say nice things about myself. The second, to do nice things for myself. The third, to find someone to buy me nice things.

15. As I learn to trust the universe, I no longer need to carry a gun.

16. All of me is beautiful, even the ugly, stupid and disgusting parts.

17. I am at one with my duality.

18. Blessed are the flexible, for they can tie themselves into knots.

19. Only a lack of imagination saves me from immobilizing myself with imaginary fears.

20. I will strive to live each day as if it were my 50th birthday.

21. I honor and express all facets of my being, regardless of state and local laws.

22. Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no sweeter words than ..... (mine.)



Black and white thinking (It is either all one thing, or the extreme opposite.)


A single event or few events are a never-ending pattern


Pick out one negative detail and focus on it exclusively.


Negative interpretation without definite facts

MIND READING -- Decide what someone else is thinking without checking it out.

FORTUNE TELLING -- Predicting the future

CATASTROPHIZING -- Usually imagining the worst to be true


Positive experiences don't count. They may be perceived as the "exception," or insufficient to cancel out negative experiences, or insufficient to build upon or to enjoy.


Exaggerate the importance of some things

Minimize or shrink positive things


Assume your negative emotions reflect reality, "I feel it, therefore it must be true."


Make rules for yourself/others as if they were written in stone.


Give names, labels as traits, rather than labeling them as events

Mislabeling -- emotionally charged descriptions.


See yourself as a cause of an event that you weren't primarily responsible for.


See all your feelings as being controlled by present or past events.