With Summer coming to an end and Winter looming it’s way in to our rain-filled day, many of us are setting out new goals to start afresh and pray that they might counteract the Summer splurging. Usually, we set goals to start eating healthier, going to the gym and giving up smoking (something everyone should do, by the way!). Don’t get me wrong, these are great goals to have but these somewhat superficial goals often outshine some of the more important ones; for example, mental health goals. These are goals that will not only aid in reaching your goals but also set you up for long-term success; whatever that may mean to you.
In life, it’s the little things that count. However sometimes these little things have huge consequences and unfortunately, these little things can be difficult to spot and act upon.
I’ve laid out three of the most common negative thinking habits for you to ditch to ensure you really show how much of a beast you truly are.
This is one we are all guilty of whether you’re aware of it or not. Have you ever thought a certain way about something and from that feeling, come to a conclusion or view based upon that? That’s emotional reasoning; one of the most destructive negative thinking behaviours. Emotional reasoning is easily overlooked as most of the time we’re not aware that we’re doing it. However, the negative effect it has on our own mental wellbeing is quite pronounced.
“I feel so fat so I must be huge”
“I’m so embarrassed I’m such a loser”
“I’m so nervous about that exam. That means I’m not prepared and I will probably fail it”
Emotional reasoning is where you allow a certain thought, feeling or emotion dictate how you behave or view yourself and other situations. This occurs when the line between feelings and facts become blurred and we associate the two things as being one and the same. It can be extremely destructive by diminishing your self-confidence and belief in yourself as you are consistently putting yourself down without having any actual facts to back up your conclusion. Sure, you might feel fat or feel like your best friend is mad at you – but it doesn’t mean that it’s actually true.
The next time you find yourself calling yourself stupid or ugly, or you back out of a social event because you “feel like you’re boring” (so you “must be boring”, right?) ask yourself: Is there any actual evidence that this is true? If I were to say this to a friend, what might they say about it? Challenging these thoughts is not easy and it does indeed take practise but once you can recognise when you are allowing your emotions dictate your actions or behaviours, you will be in a far better place mentally.
Mental Filtering is another negative thinking habit that not only drains your confidence but also prevents you from enjoying the positive aspects of your life which of course leads to even more unhappiness and creates a vicious circle.
Mental filtering occurs when we ignore some (or all) of the positive parts of a situation and focus only on the negatives. For example, maybe you haven’t been hitting personal records in the gym as often as you used to or your weight loss has come to a stand-still. Instead of focusing on how far you have come in your training or nutrition, you focus only on the fact that you missed that one big lift or that the scales haven’t budged for a couple of weeks. You “filter out” some information and choose to focus only on the negatives and in most cases, to your own detriment.
This style of thinking leaves you feeling down or depressed, unmotivated and often it can impact your frame of mind to such an extent that you can’t even allow yourself to experience the positive aspects of your life! You might feel like giving up on your diet, going to the gym or whatever the case may be because you have subconsciously taught yourself to think so negatively about certain situations.
Instead of giving up, make a note of how far you have come in your journey – whatever that may be. If you had a bad day at the office (we all have them!), did that really make the entire day a complete mess? Or did you have a nice chat with your friend over lunch, or laugh your face off at the most recent SnapChat filter? Think back over the situation you deem to be a disaster; it might surprise you that it probably wasn’t too bad after all. Cut yourself some slack!
Mind reading & fortune telling
“My boss didn’t reply to my email – she’s probably unhappy with my work”
“I’m not going to pass the exam tomorrow”
Are these thoughts familiar to you? If they are, you are one of many who struggle with the ability to come to a reasonable conclusion when faced with an uncertain situation. Don’t take this as an insult; it’s human nature to a certain degree. Fortune telling and mind reading can be useful and sometimes helpful when determining the most likely outcome of a situation; such as, if we drink alcohol we probably won’t feel great the next day or if you make fun of your friend’s new hairstyle she most likely won’t be too happy with you.
However, mind reading and fortune telling take on a whole new meaning when applied to situations where there is neither enough information to make a rational conclusion and when you consider only the possible negative outcomes. This style of thinking can lead to anxiety issues, depressive moods and lack of self-confidence by consistently putting yourself down.
The only way to overcome this style of thinking is to challenge the predictions and assumptions by asking yourself a few questions. Is there any evidence to support my belief? How likely is it that what I predict to occur will happen?
If you ultimately conclude that yes, the only possible outcomes or conclusions are the negative ones, then tell yourself you can handle it. If you don’t pass the exam, will the world fall apart? Believe in yourself that you can cope with uncertainty and consistently challenge these thoughts and thinking processes and your quality of life will be much improved.
Take home message
Negative thinking habits are very difficult to overcome but with patience, time and consistent challenging of these thoughts it can be done. Make this the year you gain back control instead of your thoughts controlling you.
About the Author
Michelle is a scientist, an athlete and a writer and she’s proud to have faced her demons head on and she’s beating them. In weight lifting she found an outlet to help change her life – and she’s loving it! Follow her journey with BULK POWDERS®.