Challenge uphelpful thinking and perverse beliefs
I was listening to music by Bob Marley when the words from his song, ‘One Love’, jumped out at me.
‘Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind, just to save his own beliefs?’
There is certainly some relevance in those words today for people who justify their acts of terrorism through a perverted belief system.
While acts of terrorism are very much in people’s minds, similar perverted belief systems, that justify unhelpful and awful behaviour, are commonplace in society. Examples that come to mind include:
- Violent men who believe their partner deserves such treatment
- Children who want to ‘get revenge’ or ‘get even’
- Adults who want to teach their ex-partner a lesson
- People who don’t think, who just react
While the above examples do not equate with terrorism, certainly the consequence of such thinking is misery for people on the receiving end.
Then there are other less-extreme, but more common, types of unhelpful thinking that also work against our relationships and well-being.
- There is only one way to see the situation, my way
- I must always get my way
- The problem is always with other people
- There is nothing I can do to help my situation
- I must worry to feel more in control
Certainly, the belief systems of those who resort to extreme acts needs to be challenged. Suitable people need to try to help those individuals find more balanced ways of thinking and acting, if that is possible.
For the rest of us, we also need to find ways of challenging our own unhelpful thoughts, which we all have, at different times. The place to start is to accept that none of us is perfect. We have to see the need for change.
Psychiatrist, William Glasser, says that to live happy lives, we need to make better choices for our thinking and behaviour. He suggests that we regularly ask ourselves three questions:
- Is what I am thinking and doing effective in meeting my needs?
- Is it considerate of the needs of others?
- And is it taking me in a good direction?
Even when we see the need for change, changing problem thinking can be quite difficult. There are, of course, counsellors and psychologists who can help.
There are also Apps you can download to your smartphone that can suggest alternatives to thinking that promotes depression, stress and conflict. One that I can recommend is MindShift.
Ultimately, it is up to us to put in effort, over time, to free ourselves from unhelpful ways of thinking.
Here, I am reminded of another Bob Marley quote, ‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None, but ourselves, can free our minds!’