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Disputing self-judgments

September 7, 2011

A Great Idea …

“The most convincing way of disputing a negative belief is to show that it is factually incorrect. Much of the time you will have facts on your side, since pessimistic reactions to adversity are so very often overreactions. You adopt the role of a detective and ask, ‘What is the evidence for this belief?’” (Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness, p. 95)

In Other Words …

When something goes wrong, we often condemn ourselves. We’re quite sure that we are stupid, blind, or inept. Yet our first reaction is often driven more by emotion than good sense. As soon as we are calm, we can dispute those first, unreasonable judgments. We can even offer ourselves the same kind of compassion we would offer a good friend who had made a mistake.

How This Applies to You …

The next time you find yourself accusing yourself, pause. Recognize that all humans make mistakes. Rather than blame yourself, see what repairs you can make and what you can learn from the mistake.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas, check out our Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at

For more information, we recommend Authentic Happiness or Learned Optimism, both by Martin E. P. Seligman.

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