• Dr. Bill Walker

Stinking Thinking: Six Irrational Beliefs We Believe That Make Us Miserable (Pt. 1)

Do You Ever Think Negative Thoughts?

These thoughts may be keeping you from enjoying life and being the person you want to be.

Let's talk about how negative thinking can be replaced by good, emotionally healthy thinking.

Your thoughts greatly determine how you feel. If you think the world is against you - you will feel negative emotions like anxiety and anger. If you think you are a loser - you will feel depressed.

Our thinking influences our feelings. Our feelings, in turn, determine our moods and outlook on life. This is important because our moods/outlook determine whether we are sad or happy, depressed, anxious, angry or content.

Thoughts and thinking generally fall into two categories: Rationale or Irrational. Rational thoughts are based on objective reality (i.e., logic), while Irrational thoughts are based more on our emotions. Rational, logical thoughts are based on correct and reliable evidence. The opposite is true of irrational thoughts.

There are 11 common irrational beliefs we tend to believe at times [1]. These beliefs are not true, and therefore cause us to operate on false assumptions. In relationships, this means we are drawing conclusions about ourselves or family members based on evidence that we have misinterpreted.

In this blog we will discuss Irrational Thoughts #1-6. In Part II (our next blog), we will discuss Irrational Thoughts #7-11. So, be sure to check back.

Irrational Belief #1:

I must be liked and approved of by every significant person in my life. It is terrible if someone does not like and/or approve of me.

The problem with this thinking is it leads to trying to please everyone. It is IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone, and trying to do so is guaranteed to make you miserable.

The Better Belief: I will live true to myself and God. If someone does not like me or approve of me it is not a terrible thing, it is just a part of life.

The only people we should strongly care to be liked and approved of are those people that are closest to us – Our family and closest friends. And even then, these people will not always approve of every decision we make. That is o.k. because no person that ever lived, including Jesus Christ, was always liked and approved of by everyone in his life.

Irrational Belief #2:

I must be competent and better than others in all areas of my life. If I am not, it means I am an inadequate person, and a failure in life.

No one can be competent in everything. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Trying to be better than everyone else is unrealistic, unnecessary, and comes across as conceited.

The Better Belief: I will always do the best I can in the situations that are most important to me. I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. That is o.k. God did not put me here to compete with others, but to be a positive and helpful influence in this world.

Irrational Belief #3:

People Who Hurt and Disappoint Me Should Be Considered Bad and I Should Blame and Punish Them.

Everyone makes mistakes and blame and punishment are basically ineffective in changing adult behavior. Blaming and trying to punish others only serves to keep ME feeling bitter and vengeful.

The Better Belief: I will separate a person’s behavior from who they are as a person. Even good people sometimes make mistakes and do bad things. Instead of seeking revenge I will work on feeling compassion for these people and pray for them daily. People who intentionally seek to hurt me I will avoid.

Irrational Belief #4:

It Is Terrible and Catastrophic When Things Are Not the Way I Want Them To Be.

When life is not going our way, it may be unpleasant but hardly catastrophic. Viewing my situation as a catastrophe does not change a thing and only causes me to feel worse.

The Better Belief: If a situation is not the way I want it to be I will consider it as merely unpleasant or undesirable. I can either try to change the undesired situation or accept it.

Agonizing over situations that are not the way I want them to be is painful and solves nothing.

Irrational Belief #5:

Unhappiness Is a Function of Events Outside of My Control.

Unless I am physically abused or deprived, people or events do little to harm me. It is my perception and beliefs about the events that harm me psychologically.

The Better Belief: My perceptions and beliefs are fully under my control. The way I choose to view life is under my control. I will try and find benefit to me in even the unhappiest of situations.

Whether it be increased patience and compassion or newfound experience in dealing with difficult situations that allow us to minister to others, there is most always good that can be gained from unhappy situations.

Irrational Belief #6:

If Something Might Be Harmful or Dangerous I Should Constantly Be Concerned and Think About It.

This is an irrational belief because thinking about a dangerous situation does not change it. Constant thinking about a potentially harmful or dangerous possibility may actually lead to its occurrence and can make it worse than it actually is.

The Better Belief: I should rationally attempt to evaluate an event or situation objectively and, if possible, lessen or remove the fearful elements. I will take my anxiety to God in prayer and lean on trusted family and friends for support and feedback.


Christianly Speaking

Preacher John MacArthur writes,

“You, as a believer, are a product of your thinking because it says in the Bible as clearly as possible, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” You are the product of your thoughts.” [2]

In the Bible book of Philippians a list of positive, godly qualities are given. These qualities include truth, honesty, justness, purity, loveliness and a good reputation. God then says of these things, “think on these things”. [3].

Why? Because thinking positive, godly thoughts will greatly influence who we are as His people in positive, godly ways.

I (bw) have counseled many Christians who struggled with irrational thinking. We are not exempt from this problem.


Final Thoughts

Rational, clean thinking will make us rational, clean people. Irrational thinking pollutes our minds and keeps us being the positive, helpful individuals our families, and this world, needs us to be.

In Part II we will discuss 5 more types of Irrational Beliefs.




[3] Holy Bible: Philippians 4:8.


The information contained on this website/blog,, is for general information and educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

This website,, may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by, or are in any way affiliated with Please note that does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness on any information on these external websites. [Last updated: 10/5/17]