The psychologist, Albert Ellis, (1913-2007) developed the notion that 'crooked thinking' makes a person unhappy. This arises from viewing life in absolutes, in 'shoulds' and 'musts' - exaggerated, overgeneralised beliefs which distort reality and plunge us into emotional turmoil with their poisonous effects.
When you see your life in black and white, in absolutes, you put pressure upon yourself to cope with the impossible.
Here's the list. See if you identify with any of them. We all are influenced by such beliefs at times, so don't feel like a freak if you find many of them ring true for you.
- I MUST do well at all times.
- I am a bad or worthless person when I act in a weak or stupid manner. I MUST be approved and accepted by people I find important.
- I am a BAD, UNLOVABLE person if I get rejected.
- People MUST treat me fairly and give me what I need.
- People who act immorally are undeserving, rotten people. People MUST live up to my expectations or it is terrible.
- My life MUST have few major hassles or troubles. I can't STAND really bad things or difficult people. It is awful or horrible when important things don't turn out the way I want them to.
- I CAN'T stand it when life is really unfair.
- I NEED to be loved by someone who matters to a lot to me.
- I NEED immediate gratification and always feel awful when I don't get it.
A bit more info on Ellis' theory - In 1955 he presented Rational Therapy (RT). In RT, the therapist sought to help the client understand — and act on the understanding — that his personal philosophy contained beliefs that contributed to his own emotional pain. This new approach stressed actively working to change a client's self-defeating beliefs and behaviours by demonstrating their irrationality, self-defeatism and rigidity. Ellis believed that through rational analysis and cognitive reconstruction, people could understand their self-defeatingness in light of their core irrational beliefs and then develop more rational constructs.