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Replacing Unhelpful Beliefs with More Accurate and Helpful Beliefs

By Matthias · Jun 25, 2020 ·
This blog entry contains a list of unhelpful, negative, and inaccurate beliefs followed by more helpful, positive, and accurate beliefs that can be used to feel better about yourself and make it easier to get along with other people.
  1. INTRODUCTION
    Our beliefs and thoughts about ourselves and others influences our emotions and how we feel. Negative or inaccurate beliefs can make us feel worse, lead to us making bad decisions, cause us to avoid people, and may result in depression or anxiety. Learning to form more accurate and helpful beliefs can help us feel better, increase our confidence, and make social interactions more enjoyable. This guide contains examples you can use to help identify any unhelpful beliefs you may have so that you can replace them with more helpful and accurate beliefs.

    Many unhelpful beliefs fall into a few categories:

    1. Overgeneralizations (forming a general conclusion based on limited information)
    2. Labeling - a more extreme type of overgeneralization
    3. Jumping to conclusions (assuming something will happen based on prior experiences)
    4. Polarized thinking (seeing only 2 possibilities - this or that, good or bad, right or wrong)
    5. Personalizing - assuming something is about you when it might not be
    6. Should/must statements (people should act a certain way, I shouldn't get upset, be lazy, etc.)
    7. Filtering (focusing on the negatives while ignoring or minimizing the positives)

    Beliefs based on the categories above often result in unwanted emotions. Since it may be difficult to identify and correct unhelpful beliefs you may have, see the following examples for help understanding the types of beliefs people may have in the categories described above as well as examples of how those beliefs can be replaced by more helpful and accurate beliefs.

    OVERGENERALIZATIONS
    Unhelpful belief - No one likes me.
    Helpful belief - Most people don't know me. If more people knew me, I might find people who like me. If people dislike something about me, I may be able to work on that specific problem.

    Unhelpful belief - No one understands me.
    Helpful belief - If people knew me better, some of them may be able to understand me.

    Unhelpful belief - People are intolerant and judgmental of my differences.
    Helpful belief - It's possible people are just misunderstanding me.

    Unhelpful belief - People won't accept others unless they are normal.
    Helpful belief - People often point out mistakes or flaws. It doesn't mean they don't accept that person.


    LABELING
    Unhelpful belief - I'm a loser.
    Helpful belief - I have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.

    Unhelpful belief - I'm inferior. I'm socially inept.

    Helpful belief - Socialization is one of my weaknesses. Since everyone has weaknesses, this doesn't make me inferior.

    Unhelpful thought - He's a jerk.
    Helpful thought - He's annoying but he has other good qualities.


    JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS
    Unhelpful belief - I'll never have any friends.
    Helpful belief - I may not have friends now but if I work on my problems I may be able to find people who want to be friends with me.

    Unhelpful belief - I can’t understand people.
    Helpful belief - I understand people better than I used to. If I keep trying, I'll get better.

    Unhelpful belief - I have bad luck. Bad things are going to keep happening to me.
    Helpful belief - My negative thinking may have caused me to miss out on opportunities. If I think positively, I may have better luck in the future.

    Unhelpful belief - Everyone will look down on me.
    Helpful belief - I don't know that but even if happens I can learn from this experience.

    Unhelpful thought - When trying something new, you think, "This is going to be awful."
    Helpful thought - I might enjoy it. I won't know if I don't try.

    Unhelpful thought - I said “Hi” to someone and he ignored me. He must not like me.
    Helpful thought - He may just be having a bad day and wants to be left alone.

    Unhelpful thought - It’s going to be too hard.
    Helpful thought - It might be okay. I can ask for help.

    Unhelpful thought - Something bad will happen.
    Helpful thought - It might be okay this time. I’m getting better at this stuff.

    Unhelpful thought - I know they’re thinking bad things about me.
    Helpful thought - I have no way of knowing what they're thinking.


    POLARIZED THINKING
    Unhelpful belief - I'm different than most people.
    Helpful belief - Everyone is unique in some way. There are many ways I'm like most people.

    Unhelpful belief - People say I’m weird. They’re bad people.
    Helpful belief - Everyone has good and bad qualities. Doing something bad doesn’t make them a bad person.

    Unhelpful belief - I never do anything right.
    Helpful belief - Everyone makes mistakes. It's not a big deal.

    Unhelpful belief - I hate change.

    Helpful belief - Change can be difficult but it's part of life. Some good may come from it.

    Unhelpful thought - If he’s not for me, he’s against me.

    Helpful thought - Just because he disagrees doesn’t make him an enemy.

    Unhelpful thought - He let me down, I’ll never forgive him.

    Helpful thought - He’s been there for me other times.


    PERSONALIZING
    Unhelpful belief - People are mean. I'm being picked on.

    Helpful belief - I can’t know their intentions. I’m in control of my own emotions. I may be misunderstanding them.

    Unhelpful belief - People avoid me because I'm autistic

    Helpful belief - Many autistic people have friends. Why not ask other people what they think about me?

    Unhelpful belief - I have to be perfect or people will judge me.

    Helpful belief - Pointing out mistakes doesn't mean people are judging my character.

    Unhelpful thought - He probably thinks I'm weird

    Helpful thought- He might not. Why does it matter anyway?


    SHOULD/MUST STATEMENTS
    Unhelpful belief - I shouldn't get upset when I am criticized.
    Helpful belief - I'd like to learn how to handle criticism better.

    Unhelpful belief - I must learn to control my emotions.

    Helpful belief - I could benefit from learning how to deal with my emotions.

    Unhelpful belief - People shouldn’t judge me.

    Helpful belief - People have a right to disagree with me and express their opinions.

    Unhelpful belief - People should respect my feelings.
    Helpful belief - No one can control how I feel. My feelings are influenced by my own beliefs.

    Unhelpful belief - People shouldn’t make me feel bad about myself.
    Helpful belief - Nobody can make me feel a certain way. I’m in control of my emotions.


    FILTERING
    Unhelpful belief - I'm better off avoiding people. They're too critical and judgmental.
    Helpful belief - While people can be judgmental, I feel less alone when I'm around people and they sometimes say nice things about me.

    Unhelpful thought - I don't want to go to the party. People are going to think I'm weird.

    Helpful thought - People may notice I'm socially awkward but I can meet new people and improve my social skills.

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