Refuting Irrational Ideas

Albert Ellis “rational emotive behavior therapy”, 1997. Emotions are only partially related
to actual events. Between the event and emotion is realistic or unrealistic self-talk. The
self-talk produces emotions. A. Event. B. Self-talk. C. Emotion. Emotion can go back into
self-talk and feed a loop. Unrealistic self-talk leads to depression, anxiety, helplessness,
anger, etc.

Irrational beliefs:
  1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all
    positive aspects of a situation.
  2. Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or
    piece of evidence. If something happens once you expect it to happen over and
    over again. Or you generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.
  3. Polarized Thinking: Things are black or white, good or bad.
  4. Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions
    are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to
    demonstrate your rightness.
  5. Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and
    start the “what if's”. What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you?
  6. Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why
    they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are
    feeling towards you.
  7. Personalization: Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of
    reaction to you.
  8. Control Fallacies: If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a
    victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and
    happiness of everyone around you.
  9. Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what's fair but
    other people won't agree with you.
  10. Heaven's Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self denial to pay off, as
    if there were someone keeping score. You feel bitter when the reward doesn't
    come.
  11. Shoulds: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should
    act. People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the
    rules.
  12. Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true automatically.   
    If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.
  13. Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just
    pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hopes
    of happiness seem to depend entirely on them.
  14. Fallacy of Shame: Your worth depends on having and being “enough” and you feel
    shamed when you don’t have enough.
  1. Your worth depends on how much you achieve and produce.
  2. You are not beautiful, perfect, strong, or successful enough. You continually
    compare yourself to others.
  3. When you do something wrong it means you are a bad person.

Questions to ask to help identify irrational beliefs
  1. What am I telling myself about this situation?
  2. Where did I acquire this belief?
  3. What if it is true? What would it mean to me?
  4. What if is false? What would that mean?
  5. How do I behave in line with this belief? Negative behaviors? (Avoidance,
    escapism, perfectionism, isolationism) Or healthy behaviors?

Refuting Irrational Ideas
  1. Write down the objective facts of the event (no conjectures or impressions or
    judgments).
  2. Write down the self-talk. Notice which ideas are irrational and star them.
  3. Now focus on your emotional response to the self-talk. Make a clear label such as
    “angry”, “afraid”, “felt worthless” and write it next to the idea.
  4. Dispute and change the irrational self-talk.
  1. Select an irrational idea. Rewrite the idea until it is in the simplest terms
    possible- a statement that you are asserting as fact.
  2. Is there any rational support for this idea? Is this real or true? Trace the
    cause and effect.
  3. What evidence exists for the falseness of this idea?
  4. What is the worst that can happen? (if true, if false)
  5. What is the best that can happen? (if true, if false)
  6. State the truth- I am not alone, problems don’t mean misery, solution
    exists, I can do this, I can accept this, I am accepted, people do like me, I
    am free, God loves me, I am forgiven, I have purpose, etc.
  7. Change behavior- make decisions or explore possibilities based upon the
    truth rather than the lie.

Rules to promote rational thinking: evaluate your thinking on these statements.
  1. The event doesn’t do anything to me, my self-talk does- we feel the way we think.
  2. It is the way it is. Conditions exist for this to occur or to be. To say things should
    be different is to throw out causality.
  3. All humans are fallible.
  4. It takes two to have conflict.
  5. The best strategy is to make decisions that change behavior now.

Rational Emotive Imagery 1971 Dr. Maxie Maultsby.
  1. Imagine an event that is stressful and accompanied by negative emotions.
  2. As you imagine, allow yourself to feel uncomfortable.
  3. After experiencing the stressful emotion, push yourself to change it to a healthier
    negative emotion (anxiety and rage are turned to concern, disappointment, or
    regret).
  4. Examine how you changed the negative emotion. What happened inside your
    head that altered your original emotion? What was the self-talk?
  5. Substitute a new adaptive belief that produces more bearable emotions.
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