Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Charles Taylor on 10 irrational beliefs that influence our behaviour

On Monday I invited you to do a questionnaire about the wrong beliefs about God and the world which often control our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Here's some of the possible answers to these wrong beliefs.

I'd like to write my own version of this material some time, but for today, I've taken this from Janet Reeve's adaptation of material from Charles Taylor's The Skilled Pastor.* It's a good place to start as you begin to replace the lies which underlie your sins and negative emotions with God's truth.

1. Demand for approval - “You must like me! You must approve of me!”

I believe I must have the love and approval of significant people – a need! In fact although I desire people’s love and approval I don’t need it.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom 5:6-8

2. High self-expectation - “I should; I must; I ought to……..!” “I can do it!”

Striving for competence becomes ultimate. Hence failure and low self esteem are inevitable.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Rom 3:21-24)

3. Condemning the offender – “It’s all my fault! It’s all your fault!”

Holding myself, and others, accountable for our actions is important. Blaming elevates my opinion and destroys the God given worth of people. Releasing myself, and others from burdensome standards is freeing. [I would say: learn to forgive, as God has forgiven you.]

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Lk 6:37 cf Matt 6:12)

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Pet 4:5)

4. Low frustration tolerance – “Life was meant to be easy! I don’t deserve this kind of trouble!”

When we make a catastrophe of events, and see them as intolerable, our own plans and self-care become central values. Choose to see frustrations and unfairness as paths to the Kingdom [and paths to growth - Rom 5:3-4].

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ..." (Matt 5:1-12)

5. Emotional irresponsibility - “I’m not responsible! It wasn’t my fault! Someone else can handle that.”

The LORD sent Nathan to David. ... Nathan said to David, "You are the man!" ... Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." (2 Sam 12:1-13)

6. Anxious over-concern - “What if! What if!”

Over-focussing on a threat exaggerates its danger and reduces evaluation, acceptance and action.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life ... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt 6:25-33)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

7. Problem avoidance - “Let’s have fun! Self- discipline is too hard and not cool! No worries!”

Not worrying becomes so central that responsible action and self-discipline are avoided.

Then he said, '... You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' (Lk 12:18-20)

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Prov 14:23)

Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. (Tit 1:8)

8. Historical determinism - “It’s not my fault. ‘So and so’ or ‘such and such’ are to blame!”

A belief that emotional misery comes from external events means you have little ability to control or change your feelings. A false value may become central so that past influences on your life continue to dominate you. Challenge irrational beliefs and ‘should’, ‘ought’ and ‘must’ in your thoughts and words.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (Jn 9:1-3)

9. Need for perfection - “Everything needs to work out how I imagine it or I can’t cope.”

The demand for perfection dooms us to frustration or failure and alienates us from reality in an imperfect world. (Eph 5:20, Phil :6)

... give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:18)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 Jn 1:8-10)

10. Passive happiness - “I can’t be bothered! Why doesn’t life work out for me?”

Rest and enjoyment, inertia and inaction are central values. Vibrant happiness comes with deep involvement and not giving in to fear or laziness.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." (Mk 8:34-35)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Col 3:23)

*I've taken this from the seminar on burnout at MTS Challenge Conference Victoria which was led by Janet Reeve who teaches pastoral care at BCV. She adapted this from Charles Taylor's The Skilled Pastor: Counselling as the Practice of Theology.


Rachach said...

hi jean,

i haven't been following this series (not the right time for me at the moment, as you know) but i did read this post and found it very helpful. i've already started to change my false thinking!

love rach

Jean said...

Hi Rach!

You'll have to tell me how sometime! :)

Glad it was helpful.

Caroline said...

Hi Jean,

this has been really helpful to me over the last few days. We've had a bit too much on our plates, and then we all got sick - so I haven't felt up to careful reading of long posts. But the format of it - the highlighted "wrong beliefs" with Bible verses underneath, has been really user-friendly - I can read one or two, and be directed immediately to God's word.

I can't say that I've read them all, even today, but those I have, have been really helpful. Thank you.

Jean said...

Dear Cathy,

I'm sorry things have been tough. So glad the post was helpful! I'll have to pass your thanks on to Janet, who passed this on to me. :)

Love Jean.