26 Oct Say “So long” to negative thoughts
You’ll be wiser – and feel happier – when you realize that your thoughts aren’t facts, and they’re not necessarily true. Thoughts can be changed!
How to change
Change negative thoughts to positive thoughts – See the examples below.
Let go of perfection – A good read to help you with this is Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”.
Talk kindly to yourself – Being hard on yourself is sure to create misery. Instead, talk to yourself in kind and loving ways. You can still be honest with yourself; just be kinder.
Switching negative thoughts to positive
Awareness is the first step to change. HelpGuide.org lists several types of negative thinking, which you may recognize in yourself or others. Thoughts may be about yourself, what you expect the future will bring, and situations you find yourself in.
All-or-nothing thinking – Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure.”)
Instead, think “Here’s what I learned, so I can do better next time”, or “I did the best I could, and that’s all anyone can do.”
Overgeneralization – Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I can’t do anything right.”)
Instead, be specific, such as “This didn’t go as well as I hoped, but here’s how I can improve.”
The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.
Rather, list everything that went well, the things that went wrong, and what you’ll change or improve for next time. Then tear up the list of things that went wrong and start work on the improvements list. Review the ‘went well’ list now and again to help you feel good.
Diminishing the positive – Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”)
Instead, focus on the positive event, such as “I’m really glad she had a good time.”
Jumping to conclusions – Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“He must think I’m pathetic”) or a fortune-teller (“I’ll be stuck in this dead-end job forever.”)
If such a though strikes, ask yourself, “What’s the evidence?”, or “This is my situation now; it’s not forever.”
Emotional reasoning – Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. I really am no good!”)
Be aware of your emotions, and know that how think affects how you feel. Changing your thoughts can help you change how you feel.
‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ – Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules.
Ask yourself where the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ are coming from, and challenge them.
Labelling – Labelling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)
Again, challenge your thinking. “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, and so do I. I guess I’m human!”