By Diane Ruth
Published on Sep 30th, 2011
Thinking Errors, such as, good or bad, right or wrong, all or nothing, and black or white are what gets us in trouble or holds us back from personal success. They lead us to irrational thinking and do not allow for the many shades of grey in everyday life. Irrational means to lack the power to reason. Belief means a conviction that things are true. Put together they yield an opinion lacking reason. These irrational beliefs bring us unhappiness or lack of productivity. We often allow these opinions to dictate the way we relate to life.
Through a course called Developing Emotional Intelligence, designed by Fred Pryor Seminars, I learned about Dr. Albert Ellis, a psychologist, who has developed a method for changing the way we think, feel and behave. In this course Dr. Ellis talks about three main irrational beliefs that bring us unhappiness.
- "I must be outstandingly competent, or I am worthless"
- "Others must treat me considerately, or they are absolutely rotten"
- "The world should always give me happiness, or I will die"
If someone forgets to say good morning to you one day are they always a mean person or did they just have a lot on their mind that morning? If you have a hard time learning a new form or pattern of motion are you worthless?
Before we get too far I want to briefly talk about what Emotional Intelligence (EQ) means. Emotional Intelligence is defined as one's capacity for recognizing and controlling our own feelings, beliefs and behavior. Emotional Intelligence helps you become aware of how these emotions can run your life. To improve your EQ you must deal with three components; beliefs, emotions and behaviors.
Beliefs or Core Values are usually assumptions we make about ourselves, our world or our expectations. We form "our reality" based on these beliefs that we perceive as true and expect to happen. Emotions range from Anger, Sadness, Happiness, Fear, Surprise, and Disgust. Most behaviors come from one of these six core emotions, according to expert in the field of emotion, Dr. Paul Ekman's earlier work. Later, this was expanded to include Guilt, Shame, Interest, Embarrassment, Awe and Excitement. According to this research, the behavior of consistently being late for appointments, etc. stems from the emotion Anger. This may explain why we drag our feet when we have to attend a social event with someone with which we are angry. To investigate this theory further, look at which of your core beliefs is causing your anger.
An interesting tidbit I learned is, according to scientists, one can fake emotion for only 89 days. Is this why many companies have a 90 day probation period for new hires? If behaviors last longer than 90 days they are generally true to the person's nature.
Beliefs are stored in your subconscious and its job is to confirm these beliefs. You can change your thinking errors by looking at your core beliefs and reprogramming your subconscious. This awareness of beliefs will help you develop a plan for change.
According to the course leader it takes 2 years to change your beliefs, but other experts state it can happen in as little as 6 months. I personally think it depends on the person, how much work they've done on it, and how deeply rooted their beliefs might be.
If your habit is to focus on the negative, then every time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts reprogram with positive thoughts. Practice positive self-talk to break these habits. When you think "I'll never learn this form!" say to yourself "is this rational thinking?" I've learned several forms before, and I will learn this one. Through my own research on this topic I ran across the advice "be a friend to you". Would you tell your friend they could never learn this form? No, you would encourage them to learn it; you would help them make a plan and you would point out all their good qualities that will help them learn the form.
Optimism and pessimism play a big part in improving your Emotional Intelligence. Generally optimism is linked to higher achievement. Optimists tend to have thoughts with positive content, attribute good events to self, have a good sense of humor by seeing the funny side of things and reduce their negative emotional responses to difficult situations. Pessimism is rooted in the belief that an event is beyond our control. This reinforces all those negative thoughts and errors in your thinking. Try asking yourself "is there really evidence of this belief", "what is the evidence against this belief" and "what is the best and worst thing that can happen if I give up this belief?"
"Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress"
~ Nicholas Murray Butler, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient 1931
Attitude and Motivation are rooted in our emotions. A positive attitude can give us high energy, increased productivity, etc. Motivation is a desire that drives us to do something which is affected by our thoughts and emotions. If we believe we can do something well we are more likely to be motivated to engage in the behavior. "Emotions influence how we perceive and react to life, which in turn determines how content and successful we are." This statement was taken directly from the course workbook.
"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it" ~ Lou Holtz
The next time you find yourself lacking motivation take a look at your thoughts. Write them down if it will help you better understand you thinking biases. Determine which emotion is driving these thoughts and leading to this behavior. Delve further to determine where this belief really comes from. You may be surprised.
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