Mistaken beliefs often keep you from achieving your important goals in life, they come from the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. These thoughts can come from others, negative scripts we have told ourselves, and the mixed messages you hear from the media. Mistaken believes set limits on your self-esteem and self-worth. Many times I hear clients say ” I should be _______”, when you focus more on the should’s, ought’s, and could’ves you are selling yourself short and not looking at what you have done and are capable of doing. Negative thinking and mistaken beliefs need to be challenged to reduce anxiety, decrease depression, and increase well-being.
Try this exercise to help rid yourself of a of a negative believe you have.
ex) People don’t like me
1. What is the evidence for this belief? Looking objectively at all your life experience, what is the evidence that this belief is true? Evidence- in the past others rejected my friendship. BUT I also have made and maintained many friendships over the years. My friends and family love me for who I am.
2. Does this belief always hold true for you? If not, when has it been proven false? This belief only looks at a few circumstances when I was not accepted by others; this has only happened a few times. I also just made a new friend at work.
3. Does this belief look at the whole picture? Does it take into account both positive and negative ramifications? If I think this way I wont get hurt by people, but if I think this way I also will be lonely and not make new friendships or form new relationships.
4. Does this belief promote your well-being and/or peace of mind?This belief makes me more anxious and does not promote well being. When I feel this way I am less confident, making it harder to make new friends and be myself. It DOES NOT benefit me.
5. Did you choose this belief on your own or did it develop out of your experience of growing up in your family? Experience with a bully in high school and a few failed relationships in my twenties made me feel like others don’t like me. However, these people were not positive, and were aggressive personalities, perhaps they are not the best judge of my character. Family and long term friends do not feel this way.
Try this exercise when you notice you have an overwhelming negative thought, one that is causing you distress or a perpetuating beleif that is not benefiting you. Long lasting change and elimination of the negitive self-talk takes time and practice, be patient and determined.
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