10 common irrational beliefs

by Elia Strange

Based on ‘Other irrational ideas’ from ‘The relaxation and stress reduction workbook’ (referenced below)

When I'm not in my right mind, my left mind gets pretty crowded.

(A joke)

Sometimes our thinking doesn't do us any favours. Only later, when we realise that we were: a) too kind, b) too forgiving, c) too idealistic, and so on, after a situation we can see that our beliefs were not helpful to us. Sometimes they do not make much sense but we cannot see it, particularly when we are at the center of the event.


Sometimes they are plain irrational, just like some of our behaviour. They do not make any sense, but we do it because 'we need to do it' and we cannot justify it. Whether it is human psychology that plays the role here or anything else, the fact is - if you recognise your 'irrational' thoughts (or behaviour) quicker and deal with them ASAP, the damage (to your health and mind) might be minimised, sometimes - by quite a lot!

Anyway, have a look at the list below and see if you recognise any of the 'irrational beliefs' in yourself. Do you believe in any of the statements below?

Irrational Beliefs:

1. People are fragile and should never be hurt.
Because of this irrational belief, many people are unable to communicate their feelings with others. If you have this irrational belief, you might often feel frustrated, helpless, and even depressed, because everything you want to say might hurt or deprive someone else. People who have this belief may struggle to find a positive open relationship, where things have to be said (both positive and negative) and feelings may need to be revealed.

2. Good relationships are based on mutual sacrifice and focus on giving. This belief is based on the assumption that it is better to give than to receive. Unfortunately, constant self-denial usually results in bitterness and withdrawal.

3. 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. You will have less risk of being rejected if you offer them the genuine yourself. They can take it or leave it. If they get to know the true you, you don’t have to worry about slacking off, letting down your guard, and being rejected later.

4. When people disapprove of you, it invariably means you are wrong or bad. This extremely crippling belief sparks chronic anxiety in most interpersonal situations. If you have this irrational belief, this means that one of your features (physical or character) that you don’t like, distorts the whole view of yourself where you picture yourself negatively.

5. Happiness, pleasure, and fulfillment can occur only 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, at times, desirable.

6. There is perfect love, and a perfect relationship. Those who have this belief often feel dissatisfied and resentful following one close relationship after another. Nothing is quite right because they are waiting for the perfect fit, which never comes.

7. You shouldn’t have to feel pain; you are entitled to a good life. The realistic position is that pain is an inevitable part of human life. Pain often accompanies tough healthy decisions and the process of growth. Life is not fair, and sometimes you will suffer no matter what you do.

8. Your worth as a person depends on how much you achieve and produce. A more rational assessment of your real worth would depend on such things as your capacity to experience being fully alive, feeling everything it means to be human.

9. Anger is automatically bad and destructive. Anger as an act is frequently cleansing and can be an honest communication of current feelings, without attacking the personal worth and security of others.

10. It is bad or wrong to be selfish. The truth is that no one knows your needs and wants better than you do, and no one else has as great interest in seeing them fulfilled. Your happiness is your responsibility. Being selfish means you are accepting that responsibility. At the same time, you can respect others’ rights to take responsibility for their own happiness.

If you believe in any of the statements above, then it is time to re-think them. Do these beliefs serve you well? If they do, then may be you don't have to change them.

It is up to you what to believe in, just try to aim for positive and constructive thinking over the irrational beliefs. If you liked this article, then you might be interested in the next one: How to stop your irrational thinking in 6 steps

Other articles you might be interested in:

How angry can you get? (Quiz)

How to be happy in this 'unhappy' world

How to be more assertive

How well can you cope with stress? (Test yourself)

Archives of all articles

Home Page (Coping with Stress)

'Irrational Beliefs' Reference:
Davis, M., Eshelman, E.R., & McKay, M. (2008). The relaxation and stress reduction workbook. 6th ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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