When we think (and strongly believe!), really irrational stuff, we are most likely thinking one or more of the following:

  • “Things should (ought, must, have to) be different than they are!”
  • “It’s awful (horrible, terrible, catastrophic) that they aren’t!”
  • “I can’t stand it (it’s too long, too much, too big, too painful)!”
  • “Somebody here is a jerk!”
  • “Because I have failed, I’ll always fail!”

Sure, there are other possible irrational statements, but these are among the most frequent, I believe; these are the big five. They represent “must”, “awfulizing”, “low frustration tolerance (LFT)”, and “condemning” beliefs.

A fellow maniac of the freeways cuts you off at the pass. You flip into overdrive rage: “Hey, jerk!” “You learn to drive in your living room (translation: He shouldn’t drive like that)?” “That’s the way to get people killed (translation: That’s awful)!” “I can’t stand drivers like that (translation: I can’t stand driver’s like you)!” You only needed three of the five crazy beliefs here.

I find these five statements are frequently part of the irrational thinking that gets people in trouble. If you work diligently to notice these irrational beliefs, that is the first step in having control.

If you have a little difficulty seeing that you believe these crazy ideas, just pay attention to what goes through your mind when you feel upset. That’s the way it sometimes is with “new thinking;” we need a little time and pushing to catch it. Be patient with yourself, and you’ll catch on, too.