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  • Writer's pictureMr. Change Agent

Taming the Inner Critic Part 4

Rational Emotive Theory was created by Albert Ellis and shares about a set of “stinking thinking” that our inner critic is involved in. He talks about eight irrational beliefs that we have.

The eight irrational beliefs are: Should, Ought, Must, Have to, Awful, Horrible, Terrible, and Can’t stand.

There are three areas that we exercise these beliefs usually to escape beliefs that we consider dangerous and difficult to face. These are irrational beliefs about: Yourself, Others, Life and the world.

Here are some examples:

Toward yourself I must please others or else I am no goo I can’t stand it when I fail at something I should be punished harshly I have to do good to be liked

Toward others You must treat me nice or else you are horrible I can’t stand your awful behavior You should never say those terrible things

Toward life and the world It is unfair, life should be easier I can’t stand how terrible my life is Others ought to get their act together, it’s awful the way things have turned out

Instead of using words like: Should, Ought, Must, Have to, Awful, Horrible, Terrible, and Can’t stand there are four more rational ways to see ourselves, others, and life situations. They are preferences, acceptance., stop-awfulizing, and high frustration tolerance.

Preferences This is a healthy response to a “demand”. Instead of must, should, ought to and have to we can use phrases like, “I prefer”, “I want”, or “I would like.” These phrases allow us to express what we would like but also see that life doesn’t always go our way and allows for acceptance.

Acceptance This is where we can take the extreme thinking out of the picture. We can accept that something is bad without thinking that everything is awful. This acceptance allows us to feel our pain without exaggerating its significance. Here are some things to remember: No one is perfect We are not our behavior, emotions or thoughts Failing at one thing doesn’t mean we are a failure at everything Everyone makes mistakes and we can learn from them and grow.

Stop-awfulizing The way to stop this kind of thinking is to admit when something is bad, don’t ignore it, but be realistic, don’t catastrophize it into being awful. For example, “It may be hard to stop smoking, but it won’t be awful because there are many worst things that could happen to me.” “It will really hurt me if you leave but it won’t be the end of the world.” Other phrases like, “It won’t last forever”, “I have made it through much harder things than this.” “ The sun will come up tomorrow,” all take out the sting of “awful” and it’s fatalistic tendency.

High frustration tolerance This is similar to awfulizing in which we recognize that that something is hard or difficult, a struggle, but I refuse to label it as unbearable, instead, I see a value in bearing it. I am not happy that I lost my job. I am scared and frustrated but I accept my part in it and know that I can be happy even in this situation. It is unpleasant to have this illness, but I can stand it and will do everything I can to get better. It is so hard when someone mistreats me, but I can wait until things calm down and then respectfully talk about it.

Find out what you’re thinking

Remember, distorted thinking doesn’t seem like distorted thinking. Like most distortions, they are close to the real thing. So we buy the lie and go on feeling emotional over and over again. IT HAS BEEN OUR NORMAL!!! This causes more pain and trauma and only helps stabilize the distorted thinking. So how do we come to know the truth about ourselves? We pray and ask God for wisdom and then we spend the time to reflect on what is going on. Meditate, pray and wait on God to speak to you. As you spend time with God and sincerely ask Him to share with you, you will get wisdom. You can combine this with journaling when we are feeling over-emotional. As you do you God will give you insight.

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