An irrational idea is one that prevents us from maintaining a state of adequate psychological balance. Through these irrational beliefs, we come to think that certain aspects of life have only one possible interpretation and, in this way, we are not able to see beyond. Irrational ideas are learned, so they can be debated and unlearned. The best way to disassemble them is to analyze them and propose a more realistic and functional alternative. Throughout this article, the main irrational ideas will be seen and a more adequate and functional alternative will be proposed.
Most common irrational ideas and how to deal with them
“To feel good, I need everyone’s approval.”
This is one of the irrational ideas that run through the minds of many people. Who does not feel bad when he hears a negative criticism even if it is argued and reasoned? When someone shows us their disapproval, we feel attacked and think that we have done something wrong. It is, as in many irrational ideas, a trick on our self-esteem. If this is not strong, we will tend to interpret criticism as a sample of how little we are worth.
What can we do? The most rational and sensible thing is to internalize that we cannot like everyone. Even those people who like us can also disagree on some occasions, without meaning that they no longer like us. The acceptance process will go a long way to helping us feel good about ourselves. This process revolves around accepting ourselves as we are, with our strengths and weaknesses, without the need for anyone to approve us at every moment.
“I can value myself only if I am perfect.”
The belief that we must be perfect is, at best, unreal. When someone values himself in relation to the degree of perfection he can achieve, he is often hardly happy. Some people tend to think that if something doesn’t go right the first time, they’re not up to it. We think that if we are not perfect in carrying out some task, it is synonymous with that we are not valid at a general level. We generalize an action to our life in general.
But what is perfection? Is it possible to do everything right? Should my worth as a person be assessed in relation to whether a task turns out better or worse? The failures are inevitable in learning, even when we are experts in something, we also make mistakes. In addition, each of us is better at one skill or another. Therefore, if we aspire to be perfect, we will most likely end up frustrated, sad, and angry.
“It’s terrible when things don’t go my way.”
When we hold on to an expectation, we often make our happiness dependent on its achievement. If everything goes our way, we are happy; if it doesn’t go as expected, we suffer. This way of facing the future, without a doubt, can only cause us discomfort. When we start a project or have a goal, it is healthy to think that we may not achieve it. However, it is important to note that it is not about pessimism, but rather about contemplating all possible options. In this way, if what we want does not happen, we will not experience it in such a terrible way.
“Human happiness and misfortune are caused by external factors and nothing can be done to control it.”
As stated by Humbelina Robles and María Isabel Peralta (2015), professors of Psychology at the University of Granada, “attributing the lack of happiness to events is a way of avoiding facing reality. Our own interpretation of the facts is what causes the unhappiness “. If we think that our happiness depends on what happens outside, we will be at the mercy of events. So, we must bear in mind that the exterior, being so changeable, will hardly be as we would like.
How many people react in the same way to the same event? There are as many reactions as there are people. The fact that someone reacts calmly to something that makes us nervous is a sign that there are more ways to relate to problems. These ways of relating to us are usually learned throughout our lives, so if they are learned, they can also be unlearned and changed by more rational beliefs.
“Things have to be easy, if not, better avoid them.”
There is a belief that in life everything has to come easily, without difficulties. That which costs, I better leave it or let others do it. Avoiding difficulties will only lead us to postpone them and, in the long run, the weight of all our responsibility will be so great that we can end up victimizing ourselves. We will blame life for being too harsh when in fact we have been the ones who have not coped with the responsibilities and setbacks.
“The past determines the present, and once something has happened, it will happen again and again.”
On many occasions, we can come to think that what happened will happen again. If we have failed at something, we believe that we will fail again. In this way, we condition ourselves that history repeats itself over and over again. What can we do? Be aware that something that happened does not have to happen again. When we learn to ride a bicycle, the most normal thing is that at first, we fall a few times. If we were to keep the first fall, what would happen? We would never learn. The same is true for the vast majority of situations. Letting ourselves be conditioned for the worse by the past is limiting our freedom and growth.
“To any problem, there is a perfect solution and it is catastrophic if that solution is not reached.”
If we think that to a problem there is only one solution and it must be perfect, we will be doomed to failure and frustration. In this way, we can get trapped in the search for that utopian solution and we will pass others that are valid. Faced with a problem, there can really be a large number of solutions, and many of them very valid. A sign of good emotional health is to accept the best possible solution, even if it is far from what we had originally imagined.
“I must take the problems of others as my own and I must constantly worry about them.”
Helping others makes us happier, it is scientifically proven. What does not make us happier or help us is carrying an excess of other people’s problems. If we think that carrying all the problems of others is our obligation, we begin to feel exhausted, without energy. The help we give to others must correspond to the degree of our abilities and skills. For example, if someone asks us to fix an appliance because we have a certain morning but we just don’t know that, there is no reason to feel bad, it is not our obligation.
We have to help each other as much as possible, but without forgetting that each of us must face our problems. We can help a friend to study, we can make diagrams and explain the syllabus to him, but he is the one who has to take the exam, not us. So our help has a certain limit.
“If something is potentially dangerous, I must constantly worry about the possibility of the worst happening.”
When something dangerous or threatening can happen, we think we should worry, because if it doesn’t, something bad will happen and it will also be our fault. If we suspect that we may be fired from work and we do not constantly worry about it, we may come to think that this lack of concern will cause us to be fired.
The rational thing, in this case, is to know that if we think we are going to be fired, worrying excessively will not help us. If we can fix the problem, we will try. On the other hand, if we cannot solve it, worrying excessively will only generate stress. Stress can cause loss of hair pigmentation in a condition called Marie Antoinette syndrome. And Through worry, we will not solve anything.
“It’s wrong to be selfish.”
The last of the most widespread irrational ideas is that being selfish is wrong. There are two types of selfishness: one healthy and the other harmful. The harmful is the one who puts us ahead of everything and everyone. However, there is healthy selfishness, which more than selfishness, could be changed by “taking care”. If we are not good with ourselves, we will hardly be with others. So it is important to take care of yourself both on a psychological, emotional, and physical level, in order to give the best of ourselves to others and ourselves.
Shahjahan Sarwar is a content writer, certified copywriter, and SEO expert. He is also a wellness coach and counselor. You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.