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Irrational vs. Rational Beliefs

February 23, 2015

Irrational vs. Rational Beliefs

Ever wonder just exactly what is an irrational belief? And what the big deal is about them? Irrational belief statements contain language that can cause negative and stressful feelings.

These words are: MUST, SHOULD, ALWAYS, NEVER, and ALL. Have you ever caught yourself using these words? Or noticed others around you using these words?

  • I must never make a mistake.
  • Mistakes are terrible.
  • I must always be perfect.
  • You always mess up/forget/get angry.
  • I must keep busy at all times.
  • They never learn.
  • Life is always fair.

Take a moment and think about how these statements make you feel. How would it make someone else feel if you said that to them? At some time in our lives, most of us have used these words and made these types of statement to ourselves or about ourselves, and perhaps said them to others as well.

Now take a look at rational beliefs and statements. These allow for human imperfection and the unpredictability of life. Some rational statements that could be easily incorporated into your world are:

  • It is okay to make a mistake.
  • I can learn from my mistakes.
  • I can be imperfect.
  • It is okay for others to make mistakes or be imperfect.
  • Life is not fair.
  • I can rest or do nothing at times.
  • It is okay to say, “I don’t know”, but I will try to find the answer.


Use COULD instead of SHOULD and CAN instead of MUST. This approach allows you to be less self-critical and to recognize your ability to make choices.


  • Make a list of your beliefs and then rewrite them with more accurate language.
  • Keep the ABC’s posted and practice making the change from negative to positive thinking.
  • Take a mental break and refocus on the positive aspects of the day.
  • Use humor and inspirational message to remind you and those around you that life can be fun.

I am curious, how do you recognize that you are thinking negatively and what do you do to stay positive?

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