How to Recognize Unhealthy Ways of Thinking and Correct Them
We all experience negative thoughts from time to time. But sometimes, negative thoughts can start to hold us back from living the life that we really want. If you feel like this type of unhealthy pattern describes you, then you are already taking the proper steps towards making changes.
Unhealthy thought patterns can leave you feeling stagnant and unworthy. You may question at times, whether you really deserve to strive for something better, or if the good things you’ve earned have just been a fluke. Perhaps you even tell yourself that your past mistakes encompass your whole identity, and you’ll never be able to move beyond them.
However, thoughts like these are rarely rooted in evidence and facts. If you’ve been dwelling on thoughts like these, it’s time to focus on repairing your thought patterns so that you can truly begin to thrive. Here’s how to start recognizing and correcting your unhealthy thoughts.
Identify Common Cognitive Distortions
First, it helps to understand that many people struggle with the same type of negative thoughts. Chances are, you’re suffering from cognitive distortions that are actually very common across societies.
For instance, you might be seeing your life in black and white and experience difficulty feeling comfortable with ambivalence. You may believe that your being is limited to no more than your mistakes and flaws. Alternatively, you might be prone to jumping to conclusions and “catastrophizing.” When you realize that these are cognitive distortions, you can begin working to fix them.
Challenge Your Thinking
It’s time to question your negative thoughts. When you find yourself ruminating on a negative thought that you’ve had many times before, it’s worth asking yourself whether it’s really true.
If you’ve been hyper-fixated on a particular mistake, think about your past accomplishments and recognize that you are more than your past mishaps. If you’ve been telling yourself that your gut feelings are always rooted in truth, you may want to consider moments when those feelings have been wrong, as a counterpoint.
Focus on the Results
Sometimes, simply focusing on and recognizing how these negative thoughts have adversely affected you can prompt you to begin rewriting your thought patterns. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t achieve your goals. As a result, you’ve been hesitant to even try to work towards them. Examine the “fruits” of this thought pattern: Where have these thoughts led you? Has they served you well? You’ll find that the answer is more than likely “No.”
Instead of clinging to these negative beliefs, you can counteract them with beliefs that serve you! For example, you could try telling yourself, “It’s also worth taking steps towards my goals.”
Shift to Compassionate Self-Talk
Consider how you talk to yourself. If you’re always insulting yourself, you probably would not talk to a good friend that way. Instead of criticizing yourself even for minor failings, imagine what you would tell a close friend if they needed support.
You might tell them that there is more to them than their mistakes, that they can always try again, and that they have lots to offer, even if they aren’t satisfied with their current circumstances.
How do you know that your new, positive beliefs are rooted in truth? To gain some clarity, it can be helpful to consider how your friends see you. Think about compliments you’ve received from your friends and loved ones, and reflect on the positive aspects of your personality that they appreciate.
You may also want to think about working with a therapist to delve into the roots of your negative thinking. They can help you identify when you began experiencing these cognitive distortions and why. Furthermore, they can help you begin developing healthier thought patterns that allow you to improve your self-image.
Are you struggling with negative self-talk? Working with a therapist can help you address these beliefs. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.