Let’s talk about negative thinking patterns, and how cruel we can be to ourselves without even realizing it. This is the main thing I worked on changing several years ago when I was doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on retraining your brain, and eventually led to my #ichoosebeauty project (another brain training tool).
It’s so easy for those negative thoughts to swirl around in the background in your head. What I learned is to notice them then stop them before they spiral out of control. It’s challenging at first. But if you work on it, you become aware of what you’re thinking, know that these thoughts are worse in your head than in reality (or outright lies), and change them. It’s pretty incredible to know that we have the power to choose what we think, isn’t it?!
Keep reminding yourself of this! YOU have the power to choose the thoughts in your head!
As part of Mental Health Month, here are four tips for challenging negative thoughts from my partner, Mental Health America (MHA):
- Reframe. Think of a different way to view the situation. If your negative thought is, “I can’t do anything right,” a more constructive way to reframe it is, “I messed up, but now I know to prepare more for next time.” It can be hard to do this when you’re feeling down on yourself, so ask yourself what you’d tell your best friend if they were saying negative things about themselves.
- Prove yourself wrong. What actions can you take to challenge your negative thoughts? For example, if you’re telling yourself you aren’t smart because you don’t understand how the stock market works, learn more about a subject you understand and enjoy, like grammar. If you feel like no one cares about you, call a friend. Find evidence that these thoughts aren’t true.
- Counter negative thoughts with positive ones. When you catch your inner dialogue being mean to you, make yourself say something nice to balance it out. This may feel cheesy at first, so don’t give up if it feels awkward in the beginning. Name things you love, like, or even just don’t hate about yourself – self-love can be hard, but we all have to start somewhere!
- Remember: thoughts aren’t facts. Your thoughts and feelings are valid, but they aren’t always reality. You might feel ugly, but that doesn’t mean you are. Oftentimes, we can be our own worst enemies – other people see us in a much nicer light than how we see ourselves.
You can find more info about getting out of thinking traps by downloading the free Tools2Thrive toolkit from MHA here.