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Core Beliefs, Rational Responses and Self-Esteem

Today I came across a quote which I thought was worth sharing, as it directly relates to the topic of self-esteem:

“Letting circumstances or others determine worth gives them inappropriate control and power.” (Anonymous)

It is important to recognize and replace self-defeating thoughts…having a sense of self-worth is an important building block for healthy self-esteem. Research has found that a number of core beliefs identified by the psychologist Albert Ellis are consistently linked to self-dislike and depression.

I have listed some of these below, along with their rational replacements (excerpted from Bourne, 1992):

1. Core Belief: I must be loved or approved by everyone I consider significant. Rational Response: I want to be liked by most people, and I will try to act in a respectful manner so they will. However, it will happen from time to time that some people, for their own reasons, will not like or accept me. This is not catastrophic and my self-esteem can’t be based on the approval from others around me.

2.  Core Belief: I must be great at everything I do. I should not be satisfied with myself unless I am living up to this standard. Rational Response: I will try to do my best rather than be the best. I can enjoy doing things in life even if I am not perfect at them. I am not afraid to try things in which I might fall short, and this does not mean I am a bad person. Taking risks takes courage, and it’s part of stretching myself/growing and learning.

3. Core Belief: It is easier to avoid than face life’s difficulties and responsibilities. Rational Response: I will do my best to try and face these necessary things, no matter how much I dislike doing so.

**Please note, the last core belief addresses how we deal with worries…and is consistent with research which shows that extremes are generally self-defeating…meaning that obsessing about worries or denying/avoiding them tends to have negative outcomes. As a best practice, a balanced approach is something to strive for.

(Bourne, R.A. Jr, 1992. Rational Responses to Four of Ellis’ Irrational Beliefs. Palm Beach Gardens, FL. The Upledger Institute.)

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