7 Toxic Thoughts That Poison Our Lives and How to Get Rid of Them
Sometimes our own thoughts can seriously harm our mental health, our self-esteem, and our overall well-being. So it`s important to recognize certain thought types that aren’t good for us. For example, if someone compliments us on our achievements, we shouldn’t brush it off and say it’s not that big of a deal. Instead, we should accept the compliment and admit to ourselves that we truly deserved it.
We at Bright Side realize that our own thoughts can be more powerful than we think. So be on the lookout for these toxic thoughts, and you might just see some positive changes in your life!
1. You think in extremes.
Thinking in extremes is called all-or-nothing thinking. You feel like you have to be perfect: you’re either successful at work or a complete failure. At home, you have to be the best mom or wife possible, and if there’s even a minor aspect of those roles that you aren’t fulfilling, you start feeling guilty and disappointed in yourself.
Allow yourself to be imperfect, starting by not using black-and-white terms anymore. For example, if you’re self-conscious about dancing while other people are around, don’t think, “I’m an awful dancer. Everyone will stare at me and think I look stupid.” Instead, think, “I like dancing, so I’m just gonna enjoy myself. And I probably won’t see these people again anyway, so it doesn’t matter what they think.”
2. You overgeneralize things.
Sometimes a couple of negative outcomes can make you think everything that follows will be just as miserable. For example, if you get no job offers after several interviews in a row, you might think, “I’m a loser. I’ll never get a job.”
Instead, try to see yourself and the world around you in a more realistic way. Accept that setbacks happen and that they don’t define who you are or what will happen next. Remember that the skills you have are valuable and that you’re still a worthwhile person in spite of those rejections.
3. You don’t accept positive feedback.
You might feel like you don’t deserve it when someone praises your work. So when someone says, “You’ve done a great job!” you say, “Thanks, but anyone could have done it just as well.” Or you just say thanks, but think, “She’s just saying that to be nice, but she doesn’t really mean it.” And in thinking that, you reinforce your belief that you aren’t worthy of praise.
Learn to accept positive feedback and not devalue your self-worth. So instead of perpetuating a negative self-image in your thoughts, trust that whoever complimented you really meant it, and try to feel good about it.
4. You let your emotions control your decisions.
Coming to conclusions about yourself or the things around you based on emotions is another type of thinking that can hold you back from doing what you want and achieving your goals. For example, you want to start a business, but you are afraid it won’t work out and you feel overwhelmed by the whole process. So you might think, that if you’re scared and confused already, you really weren’t meant to be a businessman or a businesswoman.
However, how something makes you feel isn’t always the way it really is. If you have negative thinking from the very beginning, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So it’s important to do away with those worries, face your fears, and think more positively about your abilities or the situation at hand.
5. You often blame yourself.
We all want to feel in control of what’s happening in our lives, so when something doesn’t happen the way we expected, we might blame ourselves, even if we aren’t responsible. For example, if your child gets bad grades in school, you might think that you’re a bad parent. Or if you booked a table at a restaurant for you and your friends, but when you got there, they didn’t have a record of your reservation, you start blaming yourself for not being responsible enough to double-check if the booking went through, and you think all of your friends also blame you for ruining their night. While in reality, it was probably not your fault at all — maybe the person checking the reservations just missed it, or there was a system failure.
So instead of beating yourself up and thinking, “It`s all my fault, I could`ve prevented that,” accept that there are some things that are just out of your control and you aren’t responsible if something goes wrong.
6. You use words like “must,” “should,” and “ought to.”
In some situations, using these words means setting unrealistic goals. And if you don’t achieve them, you feel bad about it and see yourself as a failure. For example, you think to yourself, “I should work out 5 times a week.” And then if you don’t do that, you feel really guilty about it, and you think you’ll never have enough willpower to do it.
Instead, think “I can\choose to work out 5 times a week.” If you use these words, you won’t feel as constrained in your actions. You will give yourself more freedom to choose what you can and want to do. And you won’t feel bad if you decide to not work out on a certain day.
7. You jump to conclusions.
You can never really know what someone else is thinking. However, sometimes being anxious or insecure could lead you to make assumptions about what others think about you, and it’s rarely something positive in your mind.
For example, you might feel self-conscious when you notice someone staring at you. You think maybe there’s something in your teeth, or your hair looks weird. When in reality, that person could not be staring at you at all. They might just be looking into the distance, deep in thought. And if they are actually looking at you, maybe they want to compliment you on your outfit, but feel too shy to do so.
Don’t let your anxiety control how you think and feel. When you notice your brain doing some mind-reading and picking only the worst-case scenarios of what others could be thinking, stop right there, and imagine the best-case scenario instead.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking these types of thoughts? How do they affect you? Have you tried to get rid of them?