Surprisingly common irrational ideas that can affect your quality of life

Have you ever wondered why someone people seem to struggle through life while others breeze through it? Have you ever compared yourself to someone in a similar situation and wondered why they seem so content while your frustrations are escalating to an all time high? Sometimes it all comes down to perspective. Luckily, you can change your perspective.

Albert Ellis was a successful American psychologist and psychotherapist. As part of his work Ellis identified twelve irrational ideas that he called ‘The Dirty Dozen’. He believe that these commonly held ideas can unnecessarily contribute to difficulties in life.

I have listed the dirty dozen below; have a read through them, you might be surprised at how many you can relate to. If you identify with any of them, ask yourself:

‘How is that idea adversely affecting my life?’


‘Do I really need to hold on to it?’

Of course changing a long held belief can take some effort, and you may need some help with it, but just identifying that it is an irrational belief that is not necessary to carry with you is a good starting point. How much you use that knowledge to instigate change in your life is up to you.

  1. The idea that you must have sincere love and approval almost all the time from all the people you find significant.
  2. The idea that you must prove yourself thoroughly competent, adequate and achieving, or that you must at least have real competence or talent at something.
  3. The idea that people who harm you or commit misdeeds rate as generally bad, wicked or villainous individuals, and that you should severely blame, damn and punish them for their sins.
  4. The idea that life proves awful, terrible, horrible or catastrophic when things do not go the way you would like them to go.
  5. The idea that emotional misery comes from external pressures and that you have little ability to control your feelings or rid yourself of depression and hostility.
  6. The idea that if something seems dangerous or fearsome, you must become terribly occupied with and upset about it.
  7. The idea that you will find it easier to avoid facing many of life’s difficulties and self-responsibilities than to undertake some rewarding forms of self-discipline.
  8. The idea that your past remains all-important and that, because something once strongly influenced your life, it has to keep determining your feelings and behaviour today.
  9. The idea that people and things should turn out better than they do; and that you have to view it as awful and horrible if you do not quickly find good solutions to life’s hassles.
  10. The idea that you can achieve happiness by inaction or by passively and uncommittedly ‘enjoying yourself’.
  11. The idea that you must have a high degree of order or certainty to feel comfortable.
  12. The idea that you give yourself a global rating as a human and that your general worth and self-acceptance depends on the goodness of your performance and the degree that people approve of you.

7 thoughts on “Surprisingly common irrational ideas that can affect your quality of life

  1. Pingback: Meditation on Irrational Thoughts : An Introduction | emmasrandomthoughts

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