Dogma is a belief so strongly held that it becomes the truth. It’s an ideology so stubbornly held that it doesn’t allow for any new evidence or ideas to change it. It especially resists conflicting ideas from the outside world.
When we hold dogmatic beliefs, we essentially close our minds to alternative perspectives and opinions. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy suggests that irrational beliefs are dogmatic in nature, inconsistent with empirical reality, illogical, and prevent individuals from achieving their goals.
For instance here is an example of the dogmatic belief ‘ I am a failure’. I have a deeply held belief that I am a failure and will never succeed. If this belief I held was so rigid that I never accepted any evidence to the contrary this would be very troubling and would lead me to only seeking the evidence that supports this rather than accepting any evidence to the contrary.
Rigidity in thinking is likely to result in maladaptive emotional and behavioural consequences. If you never allow any evidence to the contrary to the belief ‘I am a failure’ then how will you ever be able to succeed?
Being able to be flexible with beliefs is crucial to moving forward and creating a healthy mindset. It may not feel like an easy task at first but it is possible to adapt a more flexible mindset.
Our internal self talk is very important so when you continually tell yourself ‘you are a failure’ then you will of course come to believe it. The next time you find yourself thinking a negative dogmatic belief – counteract it with better internal self talk. Here is an example:
· Negative Dogmatic Belief ‘I didn’t do well in my exam because I am a complete failure at everything’
Alternative self talk
· Positive Flexible Belief ‘ I may have performed poorly on this exam but this doesn’t mean I am a failure, it just means I didn’t do as well as I hoped in this one thing’.
Another example of switching negative self talk to positive internal self talk could look like this
· Negative Dogmatic Belief ‘ the fact I didn’t get my promotion proves I am a complete failure’. Selectively using events to back up your beliefs is detrimental and creates an unhealthy mindset.
Alternative self talk
· Positive Flexible Belief ‘ I worked hard and did my best to work towards the promotion, I did not get the promotion because of factors outside of my control such as ‘ Susan’ being more qualified. I will try again and this does not mean that I am a failure’.
If you hold on to negative dogmatic beliefs then these can become self-fulfilling prophecies. You feel you are a failure so you don’t study as hard as what’s the point? You will never get the promotion so why even try? In turn you are creating the unwanted outcome which supports your dogmatic belief creating a very vicious cycle.
Healthy flexible beliefs will help you become the best version of yourself and towards a calm, happy mind.
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Clinical Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist