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Handling Self Defeating Beliefs By Robert Bircher Lawyers Assistance Program.

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Presentation on theme: "Handling Self Defeating Beliefs By Robert Bircher Lawyers Assistance Program."— Presentation transcript:

1 Handling Self Defeating Beliefs By Robert Bircher Lawyers Assistance Program

2 Self Defeating Beliefs A self defeating belief is a narrative or story you believe about yourself that makes you vulnerable to painful mood swings as well as conflicts in your personal relationships It is an attitude that is always with you, a part of your personal philosophy or core values Many are culturally supported “If you are hardworking and productive you are a good and worthwhile person”

3 Self Defeating Beliefs They tend to be created in childhood and are often held for life, unless an intervening process occurs They may be partly or generally accurate-but they almost always have cognitive distortions They result in ineffective attitudes, behaviors and emotional responses and can be extremely devastating or even deadly in some cases(suicide)

4 The story I tell myself Another way to describe it is an inaccurate irrational core belief that limits my potential If you have an irrational core belief “I am no good at music, in fact I am tone deaf” then it is highly probable you won't pursue a career in music or have much to do with it or have interest in it-thus missing out on a part of life If the belief is “accurate” then it is not self defeating or irrational-the difficulty is many self defeating beliefs seem accurate but are not

5 Cost and Benefit of Beliefs Rather than think of self defeating beliefs as good or bad or right or wrong it is more useful to look at advantages and disadvantages, for you, of these beliefs For example if I believe that “I must be a success in life to be a worthwhile person”-the advantages are that you may work harder to be successful-the disadvantage is that when you are not successful you will feel worthless-another disadvantage is that you may not feel that you are successful enough-or not as successful as you should be With this common and simple belief you have made your self esteem conditional

6 Two Edged Swords Most core beliefs have both advantages and disadvantages-most people never analyze them closely and just assume they are a net benefit which may or may not be accurate Another popular belief is that “I must be loved to be worthwhile”-advantages of this belief are that you will likely work hard on personal relationships and value others-disadvantages are that if you are rejected by another person you will feel worthless and inadequate; also if someone is mad at you may react and avoid the conflict instead of hearing what the other person is upset about

7 Change the Story A good idea is do a cost –benefit analysis of your beliefs-most beliefs have both costs and benefits Changing the story you tell yourself changes your behavior, changing your behavior means you get different results in your life The trick is to get a better story and believe in it as much as you did your old story-your mind will usually resist this

8 Cognitive Distortions When you examine a belief it is a good idea to check for cognitive distortions-see attached sheet You will find that many beliefs you hold dear are full of distortions-even a seemingly innocent belief like “I should always be successful and never fail” has many distortions and can cause untold misery

9 Anatomy of Belief Change Lets see how this works in real life Imagine a new lawyer who believes “Success to me is being a partner in a big firm and making $300,000 per year” their are advantages and disadvantages to this belief-if it works out there will be huge prices to pay-if it doesn’t there will be a sense of failure and disappointment –also while in the process of getting (or not getting) this you will feel unsuccessful(I haven’t quite made it yet)

10 New and Improved Belief Imagine another new lawyer who has carefully examined her thinking and thinks “success to me is being in the process of creating that which is most important to me” This belief allows her to be successful all the way to the goal-it also forces her to carefully examine what is most important to her-she will clarify her values and be more likely to feel great about achieving whatever goal she sets-also no particular event needs to occur to make her happy-she has set her life up to win-she has removed as many preconditions as possible and can face life's contingencies

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