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Beliefs Shape Your Thinking

Updated: May 8, 2021

Who said change is hard?

If we are not careful, we may fall prey to the magical words "everything will be ok." As much as we wish these words to be accurate, they are often a mirage used to gloss over reality.

The A-B-C model was presented in the last post. To view that post click the hyperlink Mind Your Thoughts. In this post, two ways to challenge irrational beliefs will be discussed. The two methods are disputing irrational beliefs and changing one's language.

The model is straight-forward. Of Import, the A (Activating event) doesn't cause C (Consequences); it's B (Belief) that causes C (Consequences). Thus contributing to individuals living a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, it makes no sense to try (Belief); I'm going to fail anyway (Consequence).

You may not recognize you have or use irrational beliefs. Still, when you become aware of these beliefs, you can minimize their impact on your functioning.

Disputing irrational beliefs

Learning to dispute your irrational beliefs is a great skill to develop. This skill encourages you to not settle on the first thought by asking yourself probing questions.

  • What evidence is there to support my irrational beliefs?

  • Is life as difficult as I believe it to be because life isn't going the way I want it?

  • Where is it documented that I cannot adjust to deal with challenging situations?

  • Why do I awfulize when things do not come through or go right?

Probing your own thoughts takes practice. To make progress with examining your thoughts is not a skill to use only during crisis times but to adopt in your daily approach. This way, over time, the absolutist "should, must, and ought" is diminished in strength. Other absolutist words and phrases may include: never, always, every time, "I should be further along in my career … I must be excellent at all times."

Changing one's language

In the practice of REBT, a person's "imprecise thinking" strengthens their irrational thinking process.

  • Our language shapes thinking, and our thinking shapes language.

  • Teaching individuals to recognize their language's absolutist patterns reduces self-downing and helplessness.

  • Once the language pattern is identified, the process of creating new beliefs can begin. They learn to use new self-affirming beliefs. For instance, I can still try to do things even if I'm unsuccessful at first.

  • This process involves changing absolutist language such as "should," must," and "ought." For example, when you don't get your preference, it is not the end of your world. It is an inconvenience with possible alternatives.

In REBT, the purpose of disputing irrational thoughts and changing one's language is to improve thinking. Once the absolutist ideas are diminished or made extinct by developing better-thinking skills, your beliefs will have fewer consequences.

N. B. The contents of this blog post are not prescriptive. The intent is to share information.

Stay Naturally Curious


Corey, G. (1996). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (5th ed). Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Sharf, S. R. (2004). Theories of psychotherapy and Counseling: Concept and cases (3rd ed). Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

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