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Are You Thinking Straight? Check Your Beliefs.

Are you thinking straight

“Are You Thinking Straight? Check Your Beliefs.” by Joan Y. Edwards

I was searching through papers from my teaching days yesterday, looking for pictures that might need scanning, when I came across a paper I’d saved with hints for clear thinking from Dr. Albert Ellis, a famous pyschologist in the 1950’s.  He designed a therapy called Rational Therapy. Dr. Ellis believed that Rational Therapy was more direct, efficient, and effective than pyschotherapy.  Later they changed the name of his therapy to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

Dr. Ellis said there are 12 false thoughts or beliefs that are prevalent with people that lead to problems in our thinking. If our thinking is faulty, our emotions may be out of whack, too. I’ll bet you’re familiar with at least one of these faulty statements.  Dr. Ellis wrote them as we-statements; I changed them to I-statements. I added what I believe are healthier ways of thinking for each of them.

(Hint for Writers: You can use one or two of these erroneous thinking statements as flaws for your character(s) in your stories.

  1. Faulty way of thinking: I must be loved by everyone and everyone must approve everything I do. Healthier way of thinking: It’s okay if some people don’t love me and don’t approve of everything that I do.
  2. Faulty way of thinking: I must be thoroughly competent, adequate, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects. Healthier way of thinking: I don’t have to be thoroughly competent, adequate, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects.
  3. Faulty way of thinking: Certain acts are wrong or wicked or villainous, and people who perform them should be severely punished. Healthier way of thinking: Certain acts are wrong or wicked or villainous and people who perform them will be punished by God. It is not my job to judge them. Judge their actions, not them as a person. The authorities who govern the area where they live are in charge of  judging and punishing them for their actions, if deemed necessary by the law.
  4. Faulty way of thinking: It is a terrible catastrophe when things are not as I would like them to be. Healthier way of thinking: Things can be okay even when things are not as I would like for them to be.
  5. Faulty way of thinking: Unhappiness is the result of external events and happenings that are forced on us and that we have no control over. Healthier way of thinking: Happiness is the result of my internal beliefs and thoughts about external events and happenings. I can control the thoughts and beliefs on which I focus.
  6. Faulty way of thinking: We should be greatly concerned about dangerous and fearful things and must center our thinking on them until the danger is passed. Healthier way of thinking: I should be concerned about dangerous and fearful things, but I should center my thinking on surviving the dangers and facing my fears.
  7. Faulty way of thinking: It is easier to avoid difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Healthier way of thinking: It is easier to face difficulties and responsibilities than to avoid them.
  8. Faulty way of thinking: We need a person stronger than ourselves to rely on. Healthier way of thinking: I am as strong a person as I need to be to do what I need to do. I don’t need someone stronger than me to rely on. God will help me.
  9. Faulty way of thinking: Because something greatly influenced us in the past, it must determine our present behavior;  the influence of the past cannot be overcome. Healthier way of thinking: Even if something greatly influenced me in the past, it does not have to determine my present behavior. The influence of the past can be overcome.
  10. Faulty way of thinking: What other people do is vitally important to me, and I should make every effort to change them to be the way I think they should be. Healthier way of thinking: Sometimes what other people do is vitally important to me. I should accept them as they are. If their behavior harms you in some way, explain how you would prefer for them to act. Realize that they may or may not do it. Behavior is a choice.
  11. Faulty way of thinking: There is one perfect solution to every problem, and if it is not found, the result will be terrible. Healthier way of thinking: There is more than one solution with good results to every problem.
  12. Faulty way of thinking: I have virtually no control over my emotions; I am their victim and cannot help how I feel. Healthier way of thinking: If I change my beliefs and thoughts, I can change my emotions. I am a victor; not a victim.


  1. Ann Jorn. Psychcentral.com. “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy:”
  2. Famous Psychologists. “Albert Ellis:” http://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/famous_psychologist_and_psychologists/psychologist_famous_albert_ellis.htm
  3. Smart Recovery.org. “Basics of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy:” http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/library/For_Family_Volunteers_Professionals/basics-of-rebt.pdf
  4. Good Therapy.org. “Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT):” http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/rational-emotive-behavioral-therapy

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. To leave me a note, please click on comment below and scroll to the bottom of the page. I’d love to hear which of these faulty thoughts you’ve had and how you changed it. Or just tell me a change, you’re glad you made.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


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12 Responses

  1. Wonderful, healthy advice. I try to promote this type of thinking in my children and students, helping them believe they have control over their thinking and actions. 🙂


    • Dear Step Mom Shawn,
      Thank you very much for writing. I’m glad that you also promote this healthy way of thinking for you, your children and your students, too. It’s amazing how we get such flawed ideas dropped into our sweet heads!

      I appreciate your being a loyal follower of my blog. Thanks.

      Never Give Up

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing and for suggesting ways writers can apply these beliefs in their projects


    • Dear Linda,
      Thank you for writing and for being a loyal reader of my blog. I appreciate it very much. You’re welcome for my sharing and suggesting ways writers can apply these beliefs in their projects. Good luck with your writing!

      Never Give Up


  3. Thanks, Joan for sharing these thoughts. It is a reminder to lighten up and stay positive.


    • Dear Sheri,
      Thank you for writing. I am glad that my post reminded you to lighten up. When we are surrounded and bombarded with many negatives, it helps to have a way to lighten our emotional load, doesn’t it?

      Thanks for being a loyal reader of my blog. I appreciate you very much.

      Never Give Up


  4. This is promoting respect for an individual. You can dislike a person’s actions, you can admire a person’s qualities, but in the end, each individual needs respect. I think in today’s climate we forget individuality and tend to group and label. LOL, from the 50’s, Joan. When I think we had more sense!


    • Dear Teresa,
      Thank you for writing. You are right. We need to respect the person. It seems like we did more of that in the 1950s, but even then we needed reminders. We were taught to say yes, sir and no, sir. I appreciate all you do to help writers and illustrators of children’s books in SCBWI-Carollinas. Good luck with getting your work published.

      Never Give Up


  5. Good reality check here. Thanks for sharing, Joan.


    • Dear Carol,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad that you think this list of faulty thinking examples was a good reality check. I liked it because it helped me think clearer in a few areas.

      Thanks for being a loyal follower of my blog. I appreciate you leaving thoughtful comments.

      Good luck with your publishing dreams,
      Never Give Up


  6. Hi, Joan,

    These ideas are worth examining. I especially relate to #4 and #12. I am often disappointed in what I cannot do and others’ lack of understanding. I am not likely to attend the August SCBWI conference. I’;d like to do a small part and cannot pay for three days. I can only attend 1/2 day because of my physical limitations. I am waiit8ng to get a reply to my E mails.
    I am disappointed, however, I will research other writing/learning opportunities. This is my take on #4.

    I absolutely think that I can control my feelings and my thoughts. That is one reason I write, meditate and pray.

    Thanks, Joan, for your inspiration.


    • Dear Janis,
      Thanks for writing. I appreciate your sharing that #4 and #12 are especially meaningful to you. I hope you find a meaningful short writing workshop you can attend! It’s amazing how changing a few words in our minds, changes our emotions to a more positive one with less stress! I admire you and your get up and go attitude in spite of the odds.

      May you find success in your writing endeavors!

      Love you
      Never Give Up


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