Tag Archives: negative thinking

How balanced is your mental diet?

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How balanced is your mental diet?

You have probably never heard of the term “mental diet”. It’s a term that I came up with when talking to my clients about their inner dialogue. We all have an inner dialogue and often we aren’t even aware of what we are telling ourselves, over and over, every day.

I refer to this inner self talk as your mental diet. It can be healthy or unhealthy. The healthier your mental diet is, the happier you will tend to be.

Characteristics of a healthy mental diet:

Regular positive self talk such as “I can do this”, “I will handle whatever comes my way”, “I am funny”, “I am good company” and so on. Inner dialogue is empowering and encouraging.

The ability to identify negative thoughts, challenge them and look for alternative ways to look at a situation. Example: “No one loves me” – this thought isn’t accepted as a fact and is challenged: “I have been loved in the past, this thought isn’t true. I am loveable”

There is less mind reading or assuming what others are thinking. We all ‘mind read’ to an extent. It’s important though to realise when we are doing it and remind ourselves that we are assuming. We can’t be sure of what someone else is thinking unless we ask them directly. The problem with assuming is that we often assume something that goes against us (eg. they didn’t reply when I said hello to them, obviously, they must not like me). This thought could be false and we take ourselves down a negative thought path that leads to unhappiness or anxiety. I mind read like everyone else, but I am quick to stop myself (when I catch myself doing it) and remind myself I am mind reading and don’t know for sure what someone else is thinking. Assuming is dangerous.

A healthy mental diet involves being aware of certain thinking errors such as rigid thinking. This is where we see things in absolutes – someone loves me or they don’t. Someone is good or bad. The world is far more complicated than that. We often use rigid thinking to try control/understand the world around us but rigid thinking leads to anxiety. Learn to be psychologically flexible – this is they key to contentment! Being psychologically flexible means you are able to generate many possible ways of looking at something.

If we lose our job and we automatically think, “I will never find another job. I am such a failure”, we will feel sad and unhappy. If we are able to generate alternative ‘stories’ (thoughts) we will feel less intense negative emotions. For example: “Maybe losing my job was a blessing in disguise. Perhaps there is a better position out there for me. Losing my job is not a reflection on me as a person. Shit happens”. This kind of thinking will lead to feeling less unhappy. What are you ‘feeding’ yourself on a regular basis?

A healthy mental diet also consists of keeping perspective. When something bad happens, we have a choice about how we wish to respond, what we want to think about it. We can choose to catastrophise and think that it is the worst thing ever and that we will never recover or we can be flexible in our thinking and tell ourselves that life may not be great presently but that change is inevitable as we won’t always feel this way.

Focusing on what is good is another characteristic of a healthy mental diet. Be appreciative of the good things and express gratitude.

There is a lot to be said for working on having a healthy mental diet. It takes practise but it helps prevent a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Learn to dismiss negative thoughts and focus on the positive ones that are helpful to you. Thoughts aren’t facts, you don’t need to take them too seriously.

Mandy X

 

 

How To Fight The Enemy That Lives Between Your Own Two Ears

 

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How To Fight The Enemy That Lives Between Your Own Two Ears

“Negative thinking will never produce positive results. Change your thinking and you’ll change your life.”

This quote probably says it all and it somehow relates to the law of attraction that what we think is what we attract. And what we attract is what we’ll get.

Life is too short for negativity. Just thinking about our worries is a waste of useful time. But, let’s face it, there are days when things don’t happen in our favor. People disappoint us, we question ourselves as a person, and we get insecure. This is when all the negativity starts to come in like an unstoppable flowing river.

But the good news is that we can control our negative thoughts. Darius Foroux, author of Win Your Inner Battles, explained in this infographic made with Visme exactly how we can fight the enemy (yes, negativity, that’s you!) and continue having a positive outlook in life!

Mandy X
This infographic was created using the Visme. An easy-to-use Infographic Maker.

 

Your thoughts aren’t real

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“The quality of your life is determined solely by the relationship you have to your own thinking” – R.Carlson

Your thoughts aren’t real

Okay, hear me out. The idea that your thoughts aren’t real may seem bizarre but once I have finished explaining you will see the logic. Your thoughts are your perceptions about the world. We don’t experience the world directly, we experience the world through our preconceived ideas and attitudes that have been created during our lives. We all have ‘filters’ that change how we perceive things around us. For example, the same event can happen to two people, the exact same experience, yet these two people may take very different lessons and experiences from that one event. If thoughts were real and standardised, we would all experience the world exactly the same way.

Imagine that you are sitting on a park bench with a friend and a dog approaches you. Imagine that you were once attacked by a dog. Your thoughts would be fearful and you would try to escape the dog. Your friend may not have the same filter of fear for dogs and may want to pet the dog. The exact same event yet very different outcomes. The difference between the two people was their thinking. Their thinking influenced their experience.

Your consciousness produces a stream of thought, one after the other. When we pay attention and focus on a thought it seems real but as soon as we distract ourselves the thought and the emotion attached to that thought disappears. Thoughts come and go.

Once you understand that you are the creator/thinker of your thoughts and that your mind doesn’t produce reality, it produces thoughts, you won’t be as affected by what you think.

Thoughts directly affect how we feel. It’s impossible to feel without thinking something first. Try feel angry without first thinking about something that makes you angry – it’s impossible. Focusing on negative thoughts will cause you to feel low. It’s common sense. Analyse less and live more in the moment. By all means, create goals and problem solve but don’t believe that you can think your way our of depression.The more you analyse, the worse it will be. Try mindfulness as a way to distract yourself from your mental torture.

Overthinking is one of the worst things you can do. Learn to let go of the thoughts, dismiss them and picture them passing you by…you can choose the ones you want to focus on and the ones you wish to dismiss. It takes practise but becoming a better ‘thought/mind manager’ will make you a whole lot happier.

Mandy X

 

How to manage negative thoughts

negative thinking photoPhoto by martinak15

 

How to manage negative thoughts

We have somewhere between 40 000 and 60 000 thoughts every day so it pays to be selective about the thoughts you decide to focus on.  In general, I have found that most of my clients tend to worry more when they have spare time. Rumination is the tendency to over think things without finding a solution. It is wasted energy and only serves as mental torture.

The best way to deal with negative thoughts is to remind yourself that thoughts are NOT facts. They are merely a representation of reality and are formed according to your existing ‘filters’ and experiences. This means they can often be distorted and unhelpful – creating anxiety and distress unnecessarily. Have you ever worried about something only to find out that you had made assumptions and all your worry was for nothing? Remember that there is ALWAYS another way to look at an event. Watch what you tell yourself and how you interpret things.

Thoughts affect emotions which in turn affect how we behave. THINK – FEEL – BEHAVE. This is the bottom line of cognitive behavioural therapy. Watch your thinking, challenge your negative thinking and immediately improve your quality of life.

We can all ‘catastrophise’ initially and think the worst. For example, I have had days when I have eaten junk all day and then had the thought “I am never going to be healthy, I may as well just give up”. This thought led me to feeling pretty low and annoyed at myself. I could also choose to think “I may have been undisciplined today but tomorrow I can start again”. The same event and two different thoughts which will in turn lead to two different emotions….the first negative thought will lead to negative emotions whereas the second thought will lead me to feeling more hopeful and optimistic. Watch what you feed yourself – I call it my ‘mental diet’ and I constantly work at talking to myself in an empowering way.

Ask yourself what you might tell a friend to help you think up another way to look at something.

Remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. One good thing about life is that there will always be change and although change isn’t always welcome, at times it can really be a good thing.

Accept that negative and intrusive thoughts are part of life. They will keep coming but you can train yourself to let the thoughts pass without really giving them attention. Distract yourself if necessary…another thought will soon be coming along.

Learn to choose the thoughts that work for you and empower you. You can choose your thoughts and beliefs.

Don’t compare yourself to others as you never truly know what is going on, Instead focus on yourself, your strengths and your goals.

If you find it really hard not to worry, schedule yourself some ‘worry time’, say half an hour in the evening and then don’t allow yourself to worry until then. Make sure that when worry time comes around, you do your best to be resolution focused rather than allowing your scary thoughts to ‘bully’ and scare you. Fear paralyses us and often there is no need for the fear in the first place.

Think of these three options: Change, accept or let go.

Decide on a plan of action and do it. Try not to allow thought to just keep running through your mind over and over. The more you worry, the more you lose time to be content and at peace.

Keeping negative thinking in check takes practise and the job will never be perfect but I work at it every day and I have definitely improved my happiness levels and ability to cope over time…a work in progress and you can do it too.

Mandy X