You and I have so many automatic thoughts in a single day. You may not be fully aware of the impact of these beliefs. I often hear these mistaken beliefs during sessions and they are the reason many people continue to struggle in their lives.
In this blog, I bring to light 5 common mistaken beliefs. Can you relate to any of these? Awareness is the first step. Reminding yourself of the truth is the second step to better health and well-being.
#One: I must say yes. If someone asks you to do something, you feel you must say ‘yes.’ You don’t want to let others down. You feel you should do it…you must do it. You believe you'll disappoint other people if you don't say 'yes.' You believe that they won’t like you or they’ll be mad at you. So you should do it simply because they asked you to.
Truth: Think about the things you want to stop doing. It's okay to protect your energy and honor your values. Cheryl Richardson who wrote The Art of Extreme Self-Care asked others what their 'no' list would look like. Some examples were saying no to participating in gossip, eating meat, going to events that require hours of small talk, going to work when you're sick, and investing in relationships that aren't aligned with who you are and want to be.
You get the idea! When asked to do something you no longer wish to do, it’s okay to say: “I won’t be able to do that” and leave it at that. Keep in mind that people who care about you don’t want you to do anything you really don’t want to do.
#Two: It’s not okay to make mistakes.
Truth: All humans make mistakes. It’s okay. It doesn't mean you failed or you are a failure. It can be viewed as being a valuable lesson or a challenge you're facing or a stepping stone that will take you to another level. Each mistake can teach you something. You can switch directions and take a new path. As long as you're moving, you won't become stuck.
#Three: I'm a fraud. You feel like you don’t really know what you're doing. You got lucky for a while because you got that job or found that great partner or (fill in the blank), but it’s not going to last. You believe you don’t have it all together. So, you feel like a fraud and believe people will discover this about you. The truth will be revealed. They’ll discover at some point that it’s all a facade.
Truth: We all feel unsure of ourselves from time to time, especially when we’re learning something new or are in a new situation. It can simply mean you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. You’re on a steep learning curve. You’re growing on a personal level. Even highly educated people (it seems to be mostly women) feel like a fraud at times, but that doesn’t mean they are one. It just means they are being too hard on themselves and viewing themselves in a critical way. What would you say to someone else who revealed that they were feeling this way? Would you be compassionate towards them rather than viewing them in a negative way?
#Four: Self-care is selfish. You feel guilty when you focus on what you need. You may not even know what your needs are. You know how to take care of others. That comes naturally to you. Even if you don’t always like doing it, it’s familiar and you know how to do it. You don’t like focusing on taking care of your needs because it feels awkward or selfish.
Truth: If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? Only you can do this. If others take care of you, that’s the icing on the cake. But that’s not where authentic self-care comes from. It comes from you. When you take time to value yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – you will be living your best life. Starting with physical self-care is a good first step since it’s the foundation of your well-being.
If you realize that you need help from others because there's too much on your plate and you need to clear out some time for self-care, clearly ask for the kind of help you need. This could be at home, work or in relationships. Eg. I need someone to take out the garbage once a week or I need someone to run the staff meeting on Thursday or I would appreciate it if someone else hosted Christmas dinner this year.
#Five: Others thoughts and feelings are important. Mine don’t matter as much.
Truth: Both sides are equally important. It doesn’t matter who the people are that are involved. We all have equal rights to express ourselves. We both have something valuable to contribute. This is the root of assertiveness and healthy communication in any relationship. Other assertive people will welcome your opinions and feelings. Aggressive people will believe their opinion is the only one that matters. However, this standpoint may be covering up negative feelings such as unworthiness or low self-esteem. You may choose to set a boundary with an aggressive person such as spending less time with them, asking them to stop a specific behavior, or walking away if needed.
You have the freedom to think any thought or change any mistaken belief. Learning to replace negative thoughts with something that makes you feel more soothed and loved is empowerment thinking (Lucinda Bassett).
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Beth Matthews is a Registered Psychologist who is driven to help people feel better about themselves. She can help you if you are struggling in your life. You can learn easy-to-use strategies to help you cope with anything that comes your way.