LIVING IN HARMONY WITH YOURSELF THROUGH RATIONAL THINKING- PART 1

Remember a day when you were "on a roll?" You had the Midas touch-- everything worked. Perhaps you surprised yourself by accomplishing something of value you did not believe possible; or on the lighter side, won a tennis match against a traditionally better opponent.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /> Then there were all those days when everything you touched went wrong. You were a bull in a china shop, committing normally preventable errors; and out of step at your job, home, or with friends. What's the difference?
 A better question might be, "How are you different?" Rational thinking. This relates to the congruence (matching) between our internal representations of experience--visual, verbal and kinesthetic (feeling)--and external behavior. We organize our internal representations to form more durable structures called, "beliefs." These allow us, among other things, to make certain assumptions about the world in which we live. "The sun will rise", "Next Monday, I will still have my job", "If I budget my salary properly I will be able to afford a vacation", "If I do not let the dog outside for thirty-six hours, I will have additional cleaning to do..."
 When these assumptions are confirmed through direct observation they may be called, "rational." In contrast, people also live with faulty, "irrational" assumptions. In these instances, internal representations do not match external behavior. Rather, they are a series of beliefs that generate rules which are not confirmed through external experience. For example, how to talk to adults, children, dogs; what to say on a date, what not to say; or what to do at social gatherings, at work in order to be considered successful. And internally speaking...
 "In order to be happy, I must be successful in my endeavors and liked by everyone."
 "If I make a mistake, I am inept!"
 "If someone criticizes my behavior it means he doesn't like me."
 "I can't live without love."
 "My worth as a human being depends solely upon what others think of me."
 As if living by these rules is not unrealistic and constricting enough, people often tell themselves irrational things when they have difficulty maintaining these self-imposed edicts. Generally, these consist of disastrous consequences or self-deprecating remarks:
 "I should do the housework. If I don't, it means I am a poor homemaker."
 "I often disagree with my parents. I guess I'm just a rebellious teenager."
 "Sometimes I find it difficult to meet my children's needs. I guess I'm really not a good mother."
 "If my boss looks at me and fails to compliment my work quality, it means I am inept."
 "I'm not ALWAYS considerate of my friends. I must be a selfish person."
 Irrational thoughts and self-recriminations such as these then often generate feelings of anxiety and despair. You feel disjointed as your behavior begins to reflect the self- defeating rules you have established, rather than more rational beliefs. Under these circumstances, one can drift into decisions, chores, friendships-- even marriages--because of an irrational little voice that said, "Should"; and failure to do so would indicate a serious personality flaw! As an indication of the congruence between your beliefs and observable behaviors, answer the following questions "true" or "false." 1. I enjoy the responsibilities of my work 2. I am considerate of my co-workers 3. I can assert what I believe are my rights. 4. I have chosen my job carefully 5. My friends understand and appreciate me. 6. I generally do things I enjoy. 7. My family respects my individuality. 8. I respect the individuality of each of my family members. 9. I consider myself a good__________(husband, wife, parent)
 If you marked more than half the questions "false", there are likely inconsistencies between your internal representations and behaviors. Be here next week, for suggestions about replacing irrational beliefs with more rational ones, in order to be more satisfied with your behavior at work and play.