Challenging Your Negative Beliefs


The way we think and interpret events and people can have a vast impact on the way we see ourselves, our self-esteem and self-confidence. The majority of the time it is our thinking patterns and self-limiting beliefs that hold us back from getting what we want or being happy with what we’ve got.

Here is a small exercise for you to have a go at. It aims to challenge your negative thinking patterns/self-limiting beliefs and the assumptions you make out about yourself and others on a daily basis. It aims to replace these beliefs with more logical and useful ones.

The A to F model for challenging beliefs

A. Activating Event or Situation: A situation arises which presents a challenge, a potential set-back for you or causes you to doubt yourself. Describe the troubling or difficult situation, stating exactly what this is.

B. Self-Limiting Belief(s) about the situation: How you interpret the adversity. Often habitual and emotionally rather than logically based. Separate thoughts from feelings. Detect what negative self-talk or self-limiting ideas or behaviour you are bringing to the situation.

C. Consequences of these belief(s): What are the consequences for you of this belief? Record your feelings and what happened as a result of them. Specify your unwanted emotions – write down what you felt like doing as well as what you did do.

D. Disputing the self-limiting belief(s): Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where is the evidence to support this belief? Is this belief logical?
  • What is the rationale?
  • What are the alternative beliefs? What is a more optimistic view point?
  • What are the implications for me holding onto this belief? How does it serve me? How helpful to you is this belief?
  • Are you confusing your preferences with demands and facts?

E. Effective new belief(s): Establish an effective, new belief. A come-back statement to your self-limiting belief.

  • Is this new belief true?
  • What is the evidence for this new belief?
  • How realistic is this new belief?
  • How helpful is this new belief?

F. New Feelings: What new emotions do you experience?

Work through these steps each time you are aware of perhaps interpreting a situation in a solely negative way.

Based on the work of Albert Ellis.

Alice Stapleton

About Alice

Alice coaches those who want to change career but don’t know what they want to do instead. She offers Career Coaching designed to help graduates, early to mid-level career-changers, and parents returning to work gain a clear vision of what career is right for them, and how to achieve it. She is also an accredited Coach Supervisor, and host of The Career Change Diaries podcast.