Do you find it hard to think positively and challenge negative thoughts? You are not the only one and this is a far more common problem than people think and affects many of us, but you can alter your mindset.
It can be a long journey to stop your negative thinking and have a more positive mindset, but well worth it. You can have experienced negative thinking due to stress and anxiety, worrying about your past or future when you are feeling low or having a bad day. Whatever the cause of the unhealthy mindset, it is something that you can change and overcome.
It is important that you recognise the types of automatic negative mindsets, you may not fall into the trap of them all, but there may be some that you can relate to.
Here are 5 unhealthy, negative mindsets that are holding you back from happiness and success:
1. Making Comparisons
With the huge development of social media in today’s society, it has become so much easier to compare ourselves to other people. Everyone shares pictures and stories which can sometimes leave us feeling jealous or discouraged.
When you start comparing yourself to other people, you can start having thoughts like ‘They are more attractive than me’, or ‘Look how successful they are; what do I have going for me?’ Having these thoughts can easily cause a low mood and develop into feeling depressed.
Something that is always worth remembering is that everyone shares their highlights, so do not compare your ‘behind the scenes’ with someone else’s ‘highlight reel’. Everyone has flaws, insecurities and no one’s life is perfect. Looking at yourself and speaking about yourself in a positive light will help you to focus on yourself rather than other people. When you are constantly comparing yourself to others, you waste precious energy focusing on other people’s lives rather than your own. Comparison behaviour can often result in resentment towards others and towards yourself. Comparisons deprive you of joy.
2. Jumping To Conclusions/Fortune Telling
Fortune telling is another type of automatic negative thinking where you jump to conclusions and predict the worst outcome that could happen. When you focus on situations that you may have in the future, you are more likely to presume that something awful is going to happen.
If you had a job interview, this type of negative thinking could cause thoughts like: ‘I am going to mess this up and not get this job.’ This is a fortune telling mindset; you are predicting the worst outcome and the event hasn’t even occurred yet.
A mindset like this can actually stop you from working towards your goals, take risks or even believing in yourself and your abilities. Jumping to conclusions can have a big effect on your self-esteem and you can find yourself doubting your own self-worth. The worries are only stealing your time and energy because there are so many possible outcomes.
3. Guilty Thinking
Guilty thinking is when you use words such as ‘should’, ‘if only’, or ‘must’ when talking about mistakes or things you may have done.
Even though you can’t change the past, we are all guilty of mulling over situations and we should have done or said. We are all guilty of this type of thinking when we reflect on mistakes we have made.
You may think ‘I should have tidied the house today’ and this could lead you to feel guilty and you may start putting yourself down. You need to change how you are thinking and try ‘I didn’t tidy the house today, but never mind, I can do it tomorrow.’ By changing your thinking you are acknowledging what happened in a positive way and you aren’t making yourself feel guilty for not doing it. With this type of mindset, you need to change the narrative.
4. Blaming Yourself
This is such a common type of unhealthy mindset, where you blame yourself for problems or mistakes that have happened. This can lead to thoughts like ‘you are a failure’ or ‘you have let your family down,’ which can bring down your mood and lower your self-esteem.
Has something little or big happened and you have blamed yourself for it? It can be difficult to look at things from a different perspective, but altering your thinking in a more positive way is crucial to good mental health. You shouldn’t easily accept fault for everything that happens. Everyone makes mistakes, but you do not need to dwell on them. Accept what has happened and learn from that experience.
Blaming others can also be an unhealthy mindset. Blaming yourself or others ultimately ends with negative emotional conditions. You could feel resentment, anger or annoyance at yourself or the person you blame.
5. ‘I Am Not Good Enough’
Have you ever thought that you weren’t good enough? You are not alone! However, when you are in that mindset, it causes self-doubt and you can drown in self-pity. This type of thinking and mindset can be a symptom of low self-esteem. The truth is that everyone is good enough.
The feeling of not being good enough or not worthy enough can develop into what is known as ‘imposter syndrome’. With this behaviour, you may question all your achievements, or even convince yourself that you are a fraud. When you encounter these feelings, you might end up working harder and holding yourself to even higher standards. This can be dangerous as it can cause you to be overwhelmed and lead to a burnout.
You can overcome the mindset of ‘I am not good enough’. Research has found that what you say to yourself can actually change the way you see yourself. Using positive affirmations is such a beneficial way to see yourself. You can also own your accomplishments without attributing them to luck, hard work or help from others.
Techniques To Help You Overcome Unhealthy Negative Thoughts:
Negative thinking is something that everyone will go through, but there are ways that you can challenge and overcome your unhealthy mindset. Here are 4 techniques you can use:
The act of meditation is a helpful way to refocus your mind and practise mindfulness which enables you to feel in the present. If you have 10 minutes, practising meditation when you are having negative thoughts, focusing on your breathing to help you calm down and move your attention away from your negative thoughts is highly beneficial.
Reframe Your Thoughts
When you recognise that the negative thoughts crop up, you can start the practice of reframing your thoughts. Ask yourself ‘Why am I having these thoughts?’, or maybe even look at it from a different perspective. Another technique could be to change the narrative. For example, you have a thought like ‘I am going to mess up my driving test because I am so nervous.’ Change this to ‘I know I am nervous, but I have had enough lessons and I am confident on the road, so I need to focus on that.’ This way of reframing your bad thoughts helps you to gain more perspective and clarity.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
Have you ever had a friend who always put you down? I have and it can influence how you view yourself and your thinking.
You don’t want to be around negative people because not only can they bring you down, they may feed into any negative thoughts you have. If you are finding it difficult to be positive when surrounded by those negative people, you need to surround yourself with different people.
Writing in a gratitude journal or writing what you are grateful for in a list means that you are constantly focused on the positive and good things in your life. This is a great exercise to do in the morning to start your day positively, or do before bed, so can you can end your day on a positive note.
These are so many negative and unhealthy mindsets you need to challenge, so they do not hold you back from happiness and success.