In our psychological backpack, we all carry around beliefs that shape how we move through our days. They may be about the world, with positive beliefs like “People are generally trustworthy” or not-so-positive ones like “Life isn’t fair.” 

We also carry around beliefs about the future. Again, they may be good, like “Things usually work out for me” or not so much, like “Things will never get better.”

But the heaviest weight in our backpack is the beliefs about ourselves. And when it comes to setting the stage for depression, a 2009 study in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research found there are two biggies that are particularly devious.

This week, here are the terrible two, plus, how to empty that backpack and refill it with beliefs that not only are more accurate, but fit you and your life a whole lot better.

Belief #1: Everyone Has to Like Me

There are many variations on the theme of “Everyone has to like me”—call it the 31 flavors of people pleasing. Perhaps your version is something more along the lines of “My worth depends on how others see me,” or “What other people think about me is really important.” Whatever way we slice it, this belief sets us up for trouble.

Why? Well, the trouble with this belief is that it puts our happiness in the hands of others. We can’t control how others react, think, or whether or not they’ll judge us. 

 

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