Negative thinking can derail your
current health plan. Learn how your thoughts can
keep you motivated and positive.
We all have a critical mind inside our head that tells us negative things about our self and the world around us. For some of us, the critical mind goes unchallenged and gets very strong. If this is happening to you, the first step is learning to recognize your critical thoughts or “bad habits”. If you can pinpoint the mistakes you are making with your thoughts, learning to restructure them can keep yourself healthy.
The following is a list of common thinking errors along with suggestions to challenge them. Which ones do you use?
All or Nothing/Black or White: Something is either wonderful or terrible. You are perfect or you are worthless.
- Break it down into percentages. There are very few things that are 100% or 0%.
Rigid Words: You use words like always, everyone, nobody, never, or should.
- Use more realistic words like sometimes, this time, that one person, etc.
- Be very specific about your problem, stay in the present and solve your problem.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations.
Using a negative viewpoint: You ignore the positive. You are overly cynical. You label yourself or others with negative words.
- Speak to yourself like a very good friend would.
- Point out the things you are doing right, what you CAN do. Find exceptions to the negative viewpoint.
- Challenge a specific behavior, or request specific behavioral changes.
Believing your feelings to be true: You believe that if you feel boring, ugly, or hopeless, then it must be true, you are boring, ugly or hopeless.
- Remind yourself that everyone feels bad about themselves sometimes, but how you feel in any moment is not the whole picture of who you are.
Playing the “worst-case-scenario” game: You predict the worst possible outcome.
- Look at the odds of the catastrophe really happening.
- If the worst case happened, how can you prepare for it?
- Ask yourself, “Is this energizing me or draining me?” or “Am I problem solving or obsessing?” or “Is this improving my chances of success?”
Blaming yourself for things you were not entirely responsible for (or you blame others and don’t take enough responsibility):
- Ask yourself, “Is this real guilt or fake guilt? For the real guilt part, take responsibility, make amends, learn from your mistake, and commit yourself to not repeating the offense. For the fake guilt part, hold your head up high and approach the situation, don’t avoid it.
- Acknowledge the circumstances that contributed to the guilt-provoking situation.
- Recognize your self-determination and responsibility.
Mind Reading: You assume what other people are thinking about you.
- Realize your assumption is only ONE possibility. Think of all others.
- Remind yourself you are not a mind-reader.
- Ask the other person in a calm way what they are thinking or if your assumptions are true.
Recognizing your critical mind, challenging it and replacing negative thoughts take time and effort. However, your attention will be rewarded as it is impossible to stay healthy if your thoughts don’t support your positive actions on your path to wellness.