10 Irrational Beliefs from Albert Ellis

Albert Ellis (1913 – 2007) was an American psychologist who developed a school of psychology called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. Like many behaviorists, Albert Ellis concerned himself primarily with solving practical, everyday problems. You won’t find the depth and insight that make writers like R.D. Laing and James Hillman so extraordinary. Sometimes Ellis seemed to think that any problem could be solved by thinking about it and getting your emotions under control—not a workable approach to deep soul issues.

But Ellis’s “List of Irrational Beliefs”  can still cover a huge amount of experience. Years after first encountering them, I find that I’m still going back to them, twisting and turning them, and finding nuggets of wisdom to apply to my life.

Ten Irrational Beliefs

  1. I need the approval of others in order to be happy.
  2. A person who behaves badly should be punished.
  3. I should be terribly unhappy when something goes wrong.
  4. If I avoid thinking about a problem, it will go away by itself.
  5. I can’t face life without help from someone bigger, smarter, stronger, or better.
  6. If I make a mistake or fail at a project, I should be extremely upset.
  7. I will always be held back by negative things that happened to me in the past.
  8. I need to be in control all the time.
  9. I can be happy without taking an active role in getting the life I want.
  10. When I experience a negative emotion, I can’t do anything about it.


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