Gradual habits make long-term changes.
Shifting the way you think means you’re consciously stopping an established thought pattern. You re-evaluate how you reflect on a situation, or even what you think about, to focus on something else.
It can’t be done overnight, but with this guide and gradually changing your negative thoughts habit you will feel better.
1- The “Shoulds”
If there’s a lot of “I should do this” or “I should do that” that’s a problem. Not because the things you “should” do are bad, but because you are sending this guilt vibe to your brain. The word “should” is damaging your mental health. If this is your case, you need to take a pause.
2- Patterns of automatic negative thinking
Behind the “shoulds” there may be a form of cognitive distortion known as automatic negative thoughts (ANTs).
These ANTs are the first thoughts that pop up in your mind whenever you feel scared or in danger. It’s very difficult to be aware of them because they are usually learned throughout your whole life. ANTs are very common in anxiety and depressive thinking.
Do this to stop them: list the thoughts that popped into your brain relating to that specific situation (“The world is an awful place”, “I can’t cope with this” To name a few) and try to challenge that, separate the actual facts from your preconceived ideas. Is really that big of a deal?
3- Try to change your way of thinking
I know it sounds silly to say “just change it”. But here are a few tips. First, try to take into account facts only, for example, if you have to do something at work think first “How many times did I mess things up?” Probably not many, or you would have been fired. Then you can start “telling” good thoughts to your brain like “If my boss believes in me is because I can do it” or “Is it that bad if I actually mess this up or am I overreacting?”.
Second, act as if you’re judging the thought of a friend rather than your own thought. You probably won’t be so hard on them as you would have been on yourself. Treat yourself with the same respect you’d treat a friend.
4- Don’t force the “positive vibe”
It’s not about constantly repeating “I’m happy” instead of “I’m sad.”
It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to feel anxious. Take a break and give yourself another day. Acknowledging your feelings of sadness or overwhelmingness is the first step to start thinking of the reasons for them and to look out for a solution.