The process of self-talk is essential to understanding the debilitative feelings that interfere with effective communication. Many debilitative feelings originate from accepting a number of irrational thoughts, or “fallacies,” which can lead to illogical conclusions and to debilitative feelings. We usually aren’t aware of these thoughts which makes them especially powerful.
The Fallacy of Perfection – These people believe that communicators should be able to handle any situation with complete confidence and skill. While this may be something to work toward as a goal or could serve as a source of inspiration, it’s totally unrealistic to believe one can reach or maintain this level of behavior. The truth is, people simply aren’t perfect.
People who aspire to be the perfect communicator may come to believe that people won’t appreciate them if they are imperfect. Perfectionists want to be valued and appreciated and are tempted to at least appear to be perfect. They are looking for acceptance. Others may feel they are phony. Their performance consumes a great deal of psychological energy.
Not only can subscribing to the myth of perfection keep others from liking you, it can also act as a force to diminish your self-esteem. How can you like yourself when you can’t measure up to your own standards?
An affirmation for this fallacy is: “I’m good enough and I am a worthy human being just as I am!”
Admitting you make mistakes like everyone else eases this myth.
A Remedy: Lowering your “expectations” of others aids us in accepting them for who they are and not what we would like them to be.
The Fallacy of Approval – Sounds like, “It’s vital I obtain everyone’s approval!”
People who suffer from this fallacy often sacrifice their own principles and happiness in order to seek acceptance from others. This can lead to debilitative feelings such as feeling nervous because people they don’t even like seem to disapprove of them, or feeling apologetic when they’re not at fault.
This myth implies that some people are more respectable and likable because they go out of their way to please others. A common statement sounds like,
“After all I’ve done for you….” Striving for universal acceptance is irrational because it’s not possible!
An affirmation for this fallacy is: “I am a worthy human being and people like me!”
The Fallacy of Should – “Look at me, I’m shoulding all over myself!” (Stuart Smalley, from Stuart Saves His Family). A big source of unhappiness is the inability to distinguish between “what is” and what “should be.” These are emotionally crippling beliefs! Becoming obsessed with “shoulds” yields 3 bad consequences:
1) It leads to unhappiness. When dreaming about what should
be, we can become less satisfied with what we have.
2) It keeps us from change – changing our unsatisfying
3) It leads to building a defensive climate in others. We get
tired of hearing about what “should be.”
Shoulders “prefer” others behave differently, “She should drive better.”
“People should live forever.” “He shouldn’t be so inconsiderate.”
People suffering from the fallacy of should need to stay in the “now.”
An affirmation would be, “I am accepting of others and the world around me.”
The Fallacy of Over-Generalization – happens when a person bases a belief on a limited amount of evidence. They focus on a single shortcoming as if it represents everything. For example, “I’m so stupid- I can’t understand math.” In this statement we base being stupid in general on just one thing – math.
This fallacy leads us to exaggerate our shortcomings and leads us to use “always” and “never.” “You never listen to me.” “You’re always late.”
Such absolute statements are almost always false and can lead to discouragement or anger.
A remedy: It’s better to offer more concrete statements, “I believe you often don’t listen to me.” “I’ve noticed you’ve been late 3 times this week.”
The Fallacy of Causation - These people live their lives believing they should do nothing that could hurt or inconvenience others because it will cause undesirable feelings. A reluctance to speak out or speak for self often results from assuming that one person can cause another person’s emotions – that others are responsible for our feeling disappointed, confused, irritated – or that we are responsible for others feeling hurt, angry, or upset.
This assumption is incorrect. We may act in certain ways, but each person is responsible for the way he or she reacts.
Responses are determined more by our own temperament and thinking than by others’ behavior.
People suffering from this fallacy may believe they have “power” to control other people’s feelings.
An affirmation would be, “I am responsible for my own feelings.”
The Fallacy of Helplessness – This fallacy suggests that forces beyond our control determine our satisfaction in life. These people often see themselves as
“victims.” It sounds like: “I was born with a shy personality. I’d like to be more outgoing but there’s nothing I can do about it.” “I can’t tell my boss he’s putting too many demands on me. If I did, I could lose my job.”
“I can’t drive a car.” “I can’t balance my checkbook.” These actually are self-fulfilling negative prophecies!
Substitute the word “won’t” for “can’t” to get a clearer picture of what these people are actually saying. They are actually choosing not to do something.
This fallacy can lead to these people seeking a rescue as they indeed see themselves as “victims.” Also at play is a resistance to personal responsibility. If they can get you to do it for them (to RESCUE them), the fallacy continues. So, by rescuing these people, we actually perpetuate the fallacy.
Change takes work. These people need to be willing to work and to change in a positive way.
The Cant’s are really an unwillingness to change.
An Affirmation would be, “I can do anything I want to do. I am a motivated and successful person.”
The Fallacy of Catastrophic Expectations – These are fearful people who think, “If something bad can happen, it will!” This leads to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy and behavior that will feed the prophecy. Example: The “expected” failure of a relationship makes them act in ways that will destroy it.
Another example would be, “If I speak up in order to try to resolve a conflict, things will just get worse.” It’s a defeatist attitude.
It’s also a clever way of using fear to control others in order to get them to behave in a certain way. “If you marry him, your life will be miserable.” (an other-imposed negative prophecy).
An affirmation would be, “I will live my life one day at a time, enjoying and experiencing it as it happens.” This affirmation keeps them in the “now.”
Web site to visit: http://occonline.occ.cccd.edu/
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