May 28, 2013
Self-Defeating Beliefs

We've all got some issues, and for many of us it is related to beliefs that we have acquired over time, mainly, self-defeating beliefs. A self-defeating belief is an attitude that is always with you; it is part of your personal philosophy, your value system. Some common self-defeating beliefs are: "I must never fail or make a mistake," "I'm not good enough," "I should always be strong, never weak," "my worth depends on my achievements, intelligence, status, income and/or looks." There are many other self-defeating beliefs, each of which provide some benefits and extract some costs, each of which results in a pattern of behavior. If I believe I must never make a mistake and I make a mistake, do I console myself with food? Do I isolate myself at home, on the couch, instead of going to work out? Does my resulting behavior make me feel worse about myself, leading to more self-defeating behaviors?

Once you identify your pattern related to any given self-defeating belief you can choose to break the cycle. List the ways in which the self-defeating belief hurts you (costs). List the ways it can help you (benefits). Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the belief. Which is greater? If the costs are greater, what is a new belief that is more realistic? What is a new behavior that can support your new belief and interrupt the cycle?

Changing the way we think and behave is not easy and does not happen quickly.  It takes time and effort.  Every attempt will not always be successful. That's okay, we can learn from that. It's important to be patient with ourselves, and kind. Remember, we've all got stuff.

Written by Ilene Glantz

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