For many teens it’s the emotions that drive their behaviors.  If they have developed unhealthy, irrational beliefs about themselves and the world they live in, their behaviors will be maladaptive at best, sinful at worst.

Underlying what we think in specific situations are what is known as ‘core beliefs’, which are underlying rules that guide how people react to the events and circumstances in their lives in general. Robert Ellis, father 0f Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, proposes that a small number of core beliefs underlie most unhelpful emotions and behaviours. Here is a sample list of such ‘rules for living’:

1. I need love and approval from those significant to me – and I must avoid disapproval from any source.

2. To be worthwhile as a person I must achieve, succeed at whatever I do, and make no mistakes.

3. People should always do the right thing. When they behave obnoxiously, unfairly or selfishly, they must be blamed and punished.

4. Things must be the way I want them to be, otherwise life will be intolerable.

5. My unhappiness is caused by things that are outside my control – so there is little I can do to feel any better.

6. I must worry about things that could be dangerous, unpleasant or frightening – otherwise they might happen.

7. Because they are too much to bear, I must avoid life’s difficulties, unpleasantness, and responsibilities.

8. Everyone needs to depend on someone stronger than themselves.

9. Events in my past are the cause of my problems – and they continue to influence my feelings and behaviours now.

10. I should become upset when other people have problems, and feel unhappy when they’re sad.

11. I shouldn’t have to feel discomfort and pain – I can’t stand them and must avoid them at all costs.

12. Every problem should have an ideal solution – and it’s intolerable when one can’t be found.

  • Do you see these in your kids or students? 
  • How are their behaviors affected by these beliefs? 
  • What are the implication for how we parent or lead our youth minsitries in light of this awareness?