Based on Albert Ellis findings, it has been stated that a small number of beliefs underlie unhelpful emotions and behaviors. The core beliefs are a set of underlying rules or codes which guide us on how we react to certain events or circumstances we are put in during our lives. Ellis has identified a trend with his findings with a set of behaviors and attitudes out of these self-defeating rules.
1. I need everyone to approve of me.
People pleasers are found everywhere. People pleasers tend to say yes to everyone and everything, regardless of whether they want to or not. They tend to perpetually lie in order to fit into narratives and demands. They tend to agree with opinions they do not agree with, complimenting people even though they do not want to, and say things they believe others around them want to hear. They may even attend social events which they do not want to or are not comfortable being present at. People pleasers do not fancy getting hurt by others. Why do people compromise their own sincerity, integrity, and authenticity to please other people? It is because they believe that their opinions, needs, thoughts, as well as their whole persona are not good enough. They usually come from backgrounds where parents, guardians, or any authority figure emotionally or physically abused them as well as rejected them, which results in a desire in adulthood to seek any form of approval, regardless of its legitimacy.
2. I must avoid being disliked by anyone.
Like the first point, people who do not fancy being disliked by people are yet again people pleasers. To avoid being disliked, they tend to maintain friendships with individuals they do not personally like (or may be afraid of being on the wrong side of) or may be overly friendly with people who clearly dislike them, which means that they may go out of their way to buy things for them, compliment them, as well as striking up a conversation. Once again, being this way is inauthentic and deceitful, but most of the time people do not act this way out of bad intentions, they are merely trying to disprove their deep-seated belief that they may be unkind, nasty, horrible, or boring individuals which nobody liked and who do not deserve friendship or love.
3. I must succeed in everything I do to be valuable.
Most individuals are addicted to success, usually because they have a deep-seated core belief that they are a failure. Their parents or teachers might have made them feel like nothing that they ever did was good enough, so this resulted in them spending the rest of their adulthood trying to out-work this core belief. This results in individuals being burnt out, overworked, and stressed. Rather than defining success as being true to our values, authentic, as well as living with integrity, they tend to define success as money, career status, materialism, and grades.
4.It is not okay to make mistakes. If I do, I am a bad person.
Progression in life relies heavily on our ability to learn lessons from the risks that we take and the mistakes that we make. Unfortunately, there are millions of people who will never step outside their comfort zone in order to take risks because they believe that every mistake will define who they are and their capabilities in life. They see mistakes not as learning opportunities but as markers of their own incapabilities and insufficiencies.
5.Other people should strive to ensure that I am always happy.
Whenever individuals do not go out of their way to please us, they feel affronted and offended because we expected more from them. They tend to complain when individuals say something offensive and bottle up hatred because they believe they should be more considerate, subsequently allowing their inconsideration to negatively impact their day, week, or even lifetime. We can easily fall into a trap of self-consumption and forget our own needs, values, and life objectives, so we prioritize our feelings, needs, and emotional satisfaction without really considering the complexity of those people we interact with.
6.People who do not make me happy should be punished.
Many people feel an urge for vengeance when they have been wronged. They hope someone who hurt them feels hurt sometime soon. Whilst that may be a natural inclination to feel in extreme situations, it is not considered a healthy way in responding and even unhealthier when this desire for vindictiveness enters our everyday realm onto those that have not even wronged us, but merely did not appease us. There is an extreme level when it comes to self-importance, which comes along with the idea that our displeasure is worthy of trial and the punishment which caused it. Your happiness and pleasure are not the responsibility of anyone, and they are not any more important than the happiness of other individuals.
7.Things must work out the way I want them to.
Whilst it is healthy to have grounded and positive expectations for yourself, having expectations can be deadly when a lot of weight is put onto them. Individuals with this mindset believe that things should be the way they want things to be. Their career should be X. Their partner should look like X. People should give them the responses they expect of them. Because of the amount of weight they put on how they want things to be, they tend to fail to appreciate how things really are. We would be much happier if we cut out all of our expectations from processes, people, life paths, careers, experiences, and things.
8.My emotions are illnesses which I cannot control.
Individuals can easily draw into the idea that their mental health defines who they are and that the only power they have in controlling their state of mind is through drugs or therapy. Whilst in severe cases, drugs may be absolutely essential and therapy is something everyone should be encouraged to take from time to time, your mental health label is not your life sentence. It does not define you and it does not limit you to be this way forever. Out of all the illnesses we can have within our lifetime, it is the one we have most power over. Whilst drugs and therapy can help, you are the definitive power between yourself and your mental well-being. Responsibility is essential in order to take over the power we have over our minds. We can never be conduits of change, as we will remain disempowered and dependent upon external sources.
0. I can feel happy in life without contributing back in some way.
We are all creative people in our own ways. However, our beliefs are what limit our creative power. Sometimes individuals live life in order to try to get more stuff to feel more fulfilled rather than producing more things. Unless we focus on giving back in life and giving ourselves out into this world, we will only ever seek to feed an ever-hungry consumption, which may never leave you feeling happy or even satisfied in the long run.
10. Everyone needs to rely on someone stronger than them.
Most of us can pinpoint an individual as the cause of our emotional and even our mental anguish and issues. 'My father abandoned me, therefore I am the way I am.] 'My mother criticized me too much, therefore I am the way I am.' Pointing blame helps us avoid taking responsibility for ourselves and the role we play in perpetuating our unhelpful behaviors and attitudes.
11. Events in my past are to blame for my attitudes and behaviors today.
Whilst our pasts do somehow create our beliefs, they are not in control of our beliefs. We cannot blame the past for our present. We are responsible for managing our present and what we choose to take away from our past. Beliefs are not automatic. They are built up over time and they are usually supported by past 'evidence'. What people, therefore, need to do is to focus on understanding the smaller components of it, which will make up the belief and have the choice to reassemble the messages that they take away from their pasts in order to reconstruct new, helpful beliefs.
12. My future outcomes will be the same as my past outcomes.
The past could never reflect the future, no matter how convincing the evidence may be or how frequently it occurs. It is important for us to appreciate the present and commit to a life of living the best without allowing the shadows of the past to taint our present day and potentially spoil our future.
13. I should not have to feel sadness, discomfort, or pain.
No matter how positive our outlook on life may be, we cannot always expect to live a life free from any form of sadness, pain, grief, stress, and struggles even though an individual may have gone through a lot. Our negative emotions are a part of our life. However, being able to relate to yourself more accurately will help you manage and cope with these upsetting and disturbing life events that occur. In life, we are not entitled to anything. Entitlement is a self-consumed, irresponsible fantasy concept which does not necessarily have any basis.
14.Someone somewhere should take responsibility for me.
We can go to therapists, life coaches, doctors, politicians, partners, parents, and even children in order to look for external support and help during any difficult times. However, we have to accept that we do not necessarily live in a Hollywood movie or a fairy tale. Individuals can be a helping hand and comfort us when needed as well as be there for us, but no one could come to save you entirely. Only you can save yourself.