Report on some of your own irrational beliefs that have gotten you off course and lowered your self-esteem. Offer rational beliefs that you can take on to dispute your stinkin’ thinkin’. How will changing your irrational beliefs help you to achieve your academic goals? Our upsets are caused not so much by our problems as by what we think about our problems. When our thinking is full of irrational beliefs, what Ellis calls “stinkin’ thinkin’”, we feel awful even when the circumstances don’t warrant it, and how we think about the issue in our lives is the real issue. I have a few irrational beliefs myself. These include my fear of public speaking, my fear of how people perceive me, and my personal appearance. In high school I enrolled in a speech class that was required for my diploma. My problem wasn’t remembering what to say but being able to speak in front of a classroom full of people. I shouldn’t have had a problem with it at all, considering the classroom was full of people I’ve known my whole life, people I’ve grown up with. I got up in front of the class ready to go, I managed to spit out two sentences then my mind went blank.
I was embarrassed, scared of what they would think about me if I were to mess up. Would they call me names? Would they think I wasn’t prepared? Would they think I was dumb, powerless, uncreative, and weak? The only thing I could think to do was run to the nearest exit, so out I went. My teacher had followed me but at that point I had tears in my eyes, I was shaking with sweaty palms. She managed to calm me down, she gave me the rational beliefs that I needed, and she believed in me exactly how I should have believed in myself. It all tied into how I am obsessive over what others think of me, my clothes, my hair, and my shoes. I have the irrational belief that everyone needs to look at me and think that I have everything together. In reality my life is usually a mess but I have those materialist things to hide behind.
My weight has always been another irrational belief of mine, constantly calling myself fat, not wearing the clothes I want, looking in a mirror and talking myself down. I gained forty pounds in almost two years. I wasn’t the small delicate girl I used to be and I didn’t think I would ever get back to the point of being happy with my body. In order to change these irrational beliefs I need to fill my mind with rational beliefs, such as I am a great public speaker when I am prepared, I am beautiful and smart with or without materialist things, and lastly if I am unhappy with my body then I have every right to change it.
According to psychologist Ellis, a key to correcting irrational thinking is changing a “must” into a preference. I can always distract myself from negative, judgmental thoughts by simply telling myself, “STOP!” Then replace my blaming, complaining, or excusing with something positive. Wisely choosing the thoughts that occupy my mind, as well as avoiding automatic, negative thoughts that undermine my self-esteem will also help. Changing my irrational beliefs will help me achieve my academic goals by giving me the confidence to organize my schedule, and be able to speak in front of people as well as with others.