Irrational ideas: how to fight them

Irrational ideas: how to fight them

An irrational idea is one that prevents us from staying in a state of adequate psychological balance. Through these irrational beliefs, we come to think that certain aspects of life have only one possible interpretation and, in this way, we are unable to see beyond. Irrational ideas are learned, so they can be debated and unlearned. The best way to disassemble them is to analyze them and propose a more real and functional alternative.. Throughout this article the main irrational ideas will be seen and a more adequate and functional alternative will be proposed.

Most common irrational ideas and how to deal with them

"To feel good, I need everyone's approval"

This is one of the irrational ideas that runs through the minds of many people. Who does not feel bad when he hears a negative criticism even if it is argued and reasoned? When someone shows us their disapproval, we feel attacked and think that we have done something wrong. It is, as in many irrational ideas, a trick of our self-esteem. If this is not strong, we will tend to interpret a criticism as a sample of how little we are worth.

What can we do? The most rational and sensible thing is to internalize that we cannot like everyone. Even those people we like can also arouse their disagreement on some occasions, without meaning that we have stopped liking them. The acceptance process will help us greatly to feel good about ourselves.. This process revolves around accepting us as we are, with our virtues and defects, without the need for anyone to approve us at all times.

"To value myself, I must be perfect"

The belief that we must be perfect is, at least, unreal. When someone is valued in relation to the degree of perfection that can be achieved, it is often difficult to be happy. Some people tend to think that if something does not work out for the first time, they are not worth it. We think that if we are not perfect in performing some task, it is synonymous that we are not valid at a general level. We generalize an action to our life in general.

But what is perfection? Is it possible to do everything right? Does my worth as a person should be valued in relation to a task that works out better or worse? Failures are inevitable in learning, even when we are experts in something, we are also wrong. In addition, each one is better given one skill or another. Therefore, if we aspire to be perfect, we will most likely end up frustrated, sad and angry.

"It's terrible that things don't go as I want"

When we hold on to an expectation, we tend to make our happiness contingent upon its achievement. If everything goes as we want, we are happy; If it doesn't work out as we expect, we suffer. This way of facing the future, without a doubt, can only cause us discomfort. When we undertake a project or have a goal, it is healthy to think that we may not be able to achieve it.. However, it is important to note that it is not about pessimism, but about considering all possible options. In this way, if what we want does not happen, we will not live it in such a terrible way.

Happiness and human misfortune are caused by external factors and nothing can be done to control it

As stated by Humbelina Robles and María Isabel Peralta (2015), professors of Psychology at the University of Granada, "Attributing the lack of happiness to events is a way to avoid facing reality. Our own interpretation of the facts is what causes unhappiness". If we think that our happiness depends on what happens outside, we will be at the mercy of events. So you have to keep in mind that the outside, being so changing, will hardly be as we would like.

How many people react in the same way to the same event? There are as many reactions as people. The fact that someone reacts calmly to something that makes us nervous is a sign that there are more ways to relate to problems. These ways of relating to each other are usually learned throughout our lives, so if they are learned, they can also be unlearned and changed to more rational beliefs.

Things have to be easy, if not, better avoid them

There is a belief that in life everything has to come easily, without difficulties. That which costs, I better leave it or others do. Avoiding difficulties will only lead us to postpone them and, in the long run, the weight of all our responsibility will be so great that we can end up victimizing ourselves. We will blame life for being too tough when in reality we have been the ones who have not faced the responsibilities and setbacks.

The past determines the present, and once it has happened, it will always happen

On many occasions we can think that what happened will happen again. If we have failed at something, we believe that we will fail again. In this way, we condition ourselves to repeat history over and over again. What can we do? Be aware that something that happened does not have to happen again. When we learn to ride a bicycle, the most normal thing is that at first we fall a few times. If we were left with the first fall, what would happen? We would never learn The same goes for the vast majority of situations. Let us condition ourselves for the past, is to limit our freedom and growth.

For any problem there is a perfect solution and it is catastrophic if that solution is not reached

If we think that in the face of a problem there is only one solution and this must be perfect, we will be bound by failure and frustration. In this way, we can get caught up in the search for that utopian solution and we will pass others that are valid. Faced with a problem, there can really be a large number of solutions, and many of them very valid. A sign of good emotional health is accepting the best possible solution, even if it is far from what we had originally imagined.

I must assume the problems of others as my own and I must constantly worry about them

Helping others makes us happier, it is scientifically proven. What does not make us happier or help us is to deal with an excess of other people's problems. If we think that carrying all the problems of others is our obligation, we begin to feel exhausted, without energy. The help we give to others must correspond to the degree of our skills and competencies. For example, if someone asks us to fix an appliance because we have a certain morning but we just don't know that, there is no reason to feel bad, it is not our obligation.

We have to help each other as much as possible, but without forgetting that each of us must face our problems. We can help a friend study, we can make schemes and explain the agenda, but who should take the exam is he, not us. So our help has a certain limit.

If something can be dangerous, I must constantly worry about the possibility of the worst happening

When something dangerous or threatening can happen, we think we should worry, because if it isn't, something bad will happen and it will also be our fault. If we suspect that we can be fired from work and do not constantly worry about it, we may think that this lack of concern will cause us to be fired.

The rational thing in this case is to know that if we believe that we will be fired, worrying in excess will not help us. If we can solve the problem, we will try. On the other hand, if we cannot solve it, worrying in excess will only generate stress. Through worry, we will not solve anything.

It is wrong to be selfish

The last of the most widespread irrational ideas is that being selfish is wrong. There are two types of selfishness: one healthy and one harmful. The harmful one is the one who puts us ahead of everything and everyone. "First me, then me and in the end me too". It is a selfishness that does not take into account the needs or emotions of others. Nevertheless, there is a healthy selfishness, which more than selfishness, could be changed to "take care". If we are not well with ourselves, we will hardly be with others. Therefore, it is important to take care of yourself both psychologically, emotionally and physically, in order to give the best of ourselves to others and ourselves.


Robles, H. and Peralta, M. (2015). Program for stress management. Madrid: Pyramid Editions.