In the last 2 weeks we’ve introduced how to spot unhealed trauma within ourselves & around us. As well as identifying our thought patterns. This week I’d like to dive more into breaking negative thought patterns.
It’s very telling how we as people tend to be harder on ourselves than on others. Practicing a gentler way of speaking to ourselves will definitely feel strange at first. We’ve gotten so accustomed to talking to ourselves harshly that we think we deserve to be talked to this way. With practice, a kinder approach can begin to feel more natural.
The goal in questioning our negative thoughts is NOT to convince ourselves that nothing is our fault but rather to see ourselves more clearly, faults & all.
Remember to consider the following points when examining your thoughts:
– Am I ignoring any evidence that will contradict my negative thoughts?
– How likely is it that I’m seeing things far worse then what they truly are?
– What would I say to someone I care about if they had this thought?
Our negative thinking can be labeled as:
When you experience negative thoughts & begin to examine them you’ll notice as you dissect these thoughts that they may actually be irrational, dysfunctional, biased, or distorted.
For example, a woman loses her job. She’s worried about how she’ll be able to survive without a steady income. During this difficult time, she keeps having negative thoughts. Telling herself she deserved to get laid off, telling herself she isn’t a hard enough worker, telling herself nobody will hire her. These thoughts aren’t the reality of the situation. They’re examples of being irrational & distorted. Her feelings about losing her job are clouding her judgment making her think negatively about herself & her work ethic.
We’ve all been in a position where we’ve lost a job at least once, especially during this time where many have been laid off.
I chose this example on purpose, because we can all relate to it in some way. After losing a job most times nobody experiences joy, even if you hated the job you still find yourself feeling upset, sad, or emotional.
You begin to question was it a matter of something you truly did, or if you were ever enough. You start picking yourself apart to figure out what you could’ve done differently to have kept that job.
In all honesty, & excuse my language but… fuck that job or thing that makes you question & doubt yourself.
Sometimes things don’t work out the way we plan but that isn’t an excuse or invitation to self-sabotage.
Every negative thought or negative self-talk you do & have is a form of self-sabotaging.
When it’s done so often, you don’t even realize it.
Sometimes this habit starts as children & before you know it you’re an adult still engaging in this limiting behavior.
My goal here is to help you recognize those thoughts, examine them, challenge them, & set yourself free of limitations.
We’re all guilty of this, some more than others but nonetheless we all have had negative thoughts before.
The worries & fears we have keep us trapped. They limit us to think we can’t do or have certain things.
Growing up most of us weren’t taught to challenge our thoughts, we didn’t have people telling us the importance of mental health, or what self care truly looks like.
Taking care ourselves looks differently across the board.
Self care to me is doing my nails, cooking a nice meal, reading, sewing, journaling, or taking a spiritual bath, just to name a few.
To you, it may include being active, or simply relaxing.
Regardless of what your self care method looks like, taking care of ourselves & our mental state is crucial.
Doing so will help eliminate those negative thoughts that creep up on us.
A little life hack that helps me keep my negative thoughts in check is my Apple Watch. I know that sounds funny but sometimes when I have a negative thought my heartbeat elevates, when I get the notification saying my BPM is over 100 & I think back to what I was just thinking about it helps me to say to myself that what I was thinking was irrational, dysfunctional, or distorted.
Our thoughts aren’t always rational or functional & it takes work to reverse your train of thought, but being mindful of this is a great start.
Once you become mindful of your thoughts, you’ll be able to examine them & identify what is or isn’t true.
The attachments from last week’s blog can still be helpful with this process.
An event creates a thought which creates an emotion. From there you can create a list of evidence for your thought along with another list of evidence that goes against your thought. Almost like creating a pros & cons list. When doing this you may find some evidence for your thought is valid until you find the evidence that goes against your negative thought.
When doing this exercise, you must be open & honest for it to truly work.
If we go back to the example of the woman losing her job evidence to her may show she lost her job because her management team didn’t really like her or maybe she was sometimes late. When creating the evidence that goes against the negative, she’s likely to find that the evidence leads more towards her being laid off as a result of the pandemic verses her actual work ethic.
Again this is just an example to show how the evidence list can be a helpful factor when trying to determine the facts of your thought verses what you make it to mean.
Keep in mind that anxiety goes down when we face it head on & stop blanketing it.
We can stay through the discomfort of something & work through it. – I feel called to say this is not me telling anyone to stay in abusive or toxic situations. This is me saying to work through problems or conflicts that seem worse than they truly are in the moment instead of running away from them. If you’re in a situation that is abusive or toxic please seek the help you need. I have listed a ton of hotlines in week 1 that may be of service to you.
Eliminating safety behaviors we use as coping mechanisms will help us embrace the discomfort & uncertainty of not knowing everything.
Sometimes we try to control every aspect of our lives & unfortunately that isn’t how life works. In a way, I truly believe we adopt these negative thinking patterns to justify the unknown in our life & we make it to mean something that it sometimes truly isn’t.
I hope this information has been helpful, next week we will continue to speak on tactical methods that help heal the mind & heart.
Please remember to be kind with yourself during this process.
Everyday is another chance & with new days come new perspectives.