Do you ever hear that voice in the back of your head that says, “you can’t do that, why even try” or “I’m a failure.” Negative thoughts such as these are not helpful. And they are actually doing more harm to your sense of happiness than you may realize! I’m Dr. Rebecca Crecraft, a trauma therapist. In my work with trauma survivors, negative thoughts are one of the first things I see creep in and steal clients’ happiness. But it doesn’t have to be this way, you too can kick your negative thinking patterns! First, let’s look at the most common types of negative thinking.
Common types of negative thinking patterns:
This is that negative voice in the back of your head. The one that’s always judging you and telling you you’re not good enough.
These are when you don’t see the facts in the situation because you are too caught up in the feelings to see things as they are. Think of a fun-house mirror, that distorts reality into someone much different!
This is that “what if” worry that takes things to the extreme and has you imaging horrible accidents or utter humiliation.
Each of these negative patterns affects your thinking and self-esteem in different ways, but none of them are serving you well. When you imagine how different your life would be without your negative thoughts, what do you hope looks different in your life?
Reasons to change your negative thinking:
When you begin to feel down on yourself, negative self-talk tends to increase. The problem with that is that judging voice ends up making you feel even worse. This vicious cycle can quickly take over and leave you feeling dissatisfied with yourself and your life. It keeps you focused on the things that are missing from your life, rather than what is good about it. When you make the conscious effort to identify your negative self-talk, and learn to implement a more positive script into your life, your overall satisfaction and happiness increase!
When your view of the world is altered, it can really damage the relationships in your life. Let me give you an example: your friend cancels on the dinner you have planned. If you take that cancellation to mean that your friend doesn’t care about you, it can create a rift in your friendship. If you instead ask yourself the facts in that situation, you could probably say that you know your friend loves you and you know that she would be there if she could, therefore, she must have had another reason to miss the dinner. Taking the time to change cognitive distortions into fact-based statements, can keep unnecessary conflicts from happening with the important people in your life!
The “what ifs” shift your focus from what’s going on in your life right now, to all of the horrible things that MAY or MAY NOT happen in the future. Focusing on all of the things that could go wrong doesn’t allow you to notice the things that are going well in your life right now. This leaves you in a constant state of fear. By learning to control your worry by letting your worries play out until the end in your mind, or using techniques to stop those worries in their tracks, you can begin to feel less anxious about what’s to come!
Acting like yourself again:
Your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are linked together. When you change the way you are thinking, it, in turn, changes the way that you are feeling and the way you behave in those situations. This means that by changing your way of thinking about a situation, you can begin to feel better, and also to act in ways that match the type of person you want to be!
If negative thinking patterns are leaving you feeling sad or worried, schedule an appointment so that we can get you back on track.