Are Your Negative Thoughts Ruining Your Life?
Taking Control of the Power of Thoughts & the Spoken Word
I dare you to spend one day counting how many times you have a negative thought about yourself.
Think it might be a lot?
Striving to be the best versions of ourselves is a great goal, but it can be easy to slip into negative self-talk as a result of limiting beliefs—or perhaps even modeled for us by adults while growing up.
When was the last time you truly felt like you could do anything? Were you a child, was it after a great day at work? What’s keeping you from believing that every day?
The journey to creating your ideal life is paved with a strong foundation in your values and belief system. When you consider how powerful thoughts and speech are in tools like visualization, affirmations, manifestation, future scripting and more, think about how harmful negative thoughts and words can be as they form obstacles on your dream journey and in daily life.
How Negative Thoughts Hold You Back
What kind of things do you think to yourself when you feel confident about something? Maybe, it sounds like "I am so excited to crush this," or, "I'm really good at this!" Do you feel those thoughts positively impacting your mood and how you approach things?
So, when you are hard on yourself—perhaps because of an insecurity, trauma, lack of self-confidence, limiting beliefs or other—your negative thoughts are harmful. They impact your chances of success, increase stress and depression and can be damaging to how you socialize (Elizabeth Scott, 2022).
When you focus on supposed "flaws" or mistakes more than celebrating your strengths and individuality, you are holding yourself back from enjoying life and having meaningful experiences.
Everyone has insecurities and nobody is perfect, but it's how you choose to see yourself, carry yourself and take care of yourself that helps you overcome artificial, negative beliefs.
However, especially as women, it can be hard to find a balance of confidence, humility and self-love while living in a society that imposes endless reasons not to love ourselves loudly.
We're raised to be conscious of wearing "flattering clothes" and doing diets to lose the last five pounds that we would never think of as too much if someone else hadn't said so.
So, in a world when your inner voice echoes societal expectations that can't be met, how do we break free from the behavior to allow ourselves to morph into what we've always been capable of?
Breaking the Habit
It might seem difficult to know where to start to create a mindset shift away from negative perceptions of ourselves, but it is possible by taking steps. Responding to situations and thoughts with pessimism and negative self-talk is a habit that we develop—as a coping or defense mechanism, a learned behavior, etc.
The crazy thing is we typically develop this coping technique to prevent us from being disappointed if we lose or fail and it is this very action keeping us from easily succeeding in the first place. Regardless, it takes at least 30 days to break a habit, and here are some tips to help your mindset shift stick:
- Identify what triggers your negative thoughts—is it after making a mistake at work? Comparing yourself with things you see on social media? Looking in the mirror? Or, just being tired and struggling to meet your responsibilities in a day?
- Go out of your way to not let it slide when you find yourself having such thoughts. Cancel a negative thought by stating out loud "cancel that" and then rephrasing the thought. Would you let someone say to your best friend or a family member what you just said to yourself? You deserve to be protected just as much as you protect others.
- Ask yourself, “Is this true? Is this really true?” Often, it's not.
- Say, "I'm shifting to a positive focus." Then redirect your attention elsewhere. Deliberately choose to shift your focus to something you can appreciate in your surroundings.
- Say a positive affirmation.
- If you have a negative thought about yourself, counteract that instinct by intentionally identifying three positive things about yourself instead.
Identifying the Root
Do you know what events or influences led you to have a negative perception? A positive mindset shift will not be long-lasting if your core belief holds true to what originally made you critical of yourself.
Journal Prompts to Foster a Mindset Shift
- What life experience would I attribute to my current worldview?
- How much of my beliefs are my own, instead of instilled into me by others, society or something else?
- What are my biggest values? Are they aligned with my thoughts and true beliefs? Are these values I want to keep?
- List some of the important areas in your life or areas in which you frequently bump up against challenges. For each area, list the first beliefs that come to your mind. Which beliefs do you want to keep?
- What perspective will I have when I achieve my ideal life? Adopt this perspective now to bring your ideal life closer.
- How do I feel about myself? My body, my personality, my thoughts, my actions? For every negative answer that arises, reframe it to be positive and write an additional two things that you like about that aspect of yourself.
Changing what might be life-long thought processes and refreshing your point of view is neither easy nor immediate. It's a life-long process that should be considered and re-evaluated from time to time. Don’t give up if you feel like you’re not making the progress you should (is that another negative thought you’re having?), just keep doing the work. I believe in you! You can do this!