Have you ever had a negative thought? Of course you have. We have between 50-70,000 thoughts each and every day. Have you ever uttered it out loud, even in jest? Of course you have. Negative thinking can be damaging not only to our self-esteem, but can begin a cycle of thought and behaviour which negatively impacts our own perception of events in our lives.
Perhaps you’ve been assigned a special project at work. You’re confident in taking it on, but upon completion you notice one tiny error. You begin to berate the way in which you handled the project, even though the error was not significant. While your boss is telling you what a great job you’ve done, you begin to make excuses for it. Your negativity has belittled the entire project, and magnified one area of it. This is called Overgeneralisation and is one of the 10 different cognitive distortions.
What steps can you take to avoid this pattern?
Take a step back and look at the project objectively. Not only did you complete it in an efficient manner, but it will become the template for future projects. Forget about the mistake; think about what you’ve achieved. Focus on what went right, not what went wrong.
The holidays are approaching, and you need to begin cleaning the whole house ready. You look around and decide it’s just too much; you can’t do it; why bother. Stop! Take a deep breath and consider dividing up the tasks. Get your family involved to help by giving each one a specific job. Once you begin the process of prioritising, you will feel better and it will get done.
You’ve started a diet before your holiday. One day, you have a craving for a particular dessert. You quickly decide your diet is over, and it wasn’t worth the effort. You walk over to the mirror and utter to yourself, “I’m fat, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Setting yourself up for failure by thinking negatively about the way you look does not solve the immediate problem. Instead, admit to cheating; promise you’ll try harder, and allow positive thoughts to guide you through.
Improving your self-talk and reframing your beliefs relating to it can help you think your way to a happier you.
Once you discover the belief that is holding you back you can start to challenge and reframe it.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to challenge that belief
- Why do I believe this is true?
- Where did these beliefs come from?
- What is it that’s holding me back from achieving success?
- What can I do to change it?
Re-framing your thoughts in to positive ones is incredibly powerful and once you’ve cracked the habit of doing it, it becomes easier to catch those daily negative thoughts, stop them and give yourself a more positive thought in its place.
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