We all have that nagging inner critic, devil on the shoulder or ‘other half’ of us that seems to swoop in and add to our anxiety over decisions or embarking on something new.
- What if I fail?
- I’m not good enough
- What will others think of me?
- I don’t deserve a better life
- I’m pretty bad at most things- why would I be any better at something new?
- I’m worthless
Do any of these statements or questions ring true?
On the whole, questioning our own motives can be a healthy way of understanding why we want to pursue something; as a race we tend to want to find evidence to support our theories for both positive and negative situations in order to decide what to do. This becomes unhealthy when we find ourselves seeking the negative and the evidence for it repeatedly. It can become quite damaging being stuck in this cycle. This thought process is called rumination. It happens to us all throughout our lives but when it becomes a habit rather than occasional, it could be a sign that things in your life are getting you down and affecting your outlook.
Rumination can be a sign that you aren’t in the right place in your life and some things need altering to get you back on track- this could be to do with your environment(s) or thinking processes. If it’s been happening for longer than 6 months then it could also be a symptom of anxiety and/ or depression; if you find yourself stuck in destructive and upsetting negative though patterns then it may be worth speaking to a professional to talk things through and to address your thought patterns- there will be an underlying reason for it happening.
What can you do to help?
Thought records enable you to look more closely at what is occurring for you and provide a rational approach to thoughts that can be quite irrational. Please click on the example below and feel free to print off and have a try yourself.
Noting is another way of handling the thought process. Quiet times can trigger a multitude of negative thoughts- if you can sit undisturbed and rather than engage yourself in the thought, just simply note it a thought or as a feeling (if one is present) then it can prevent you becoming caught up in the negativity. Simply label what comes up for you as ‘Thought or Feeling’. You become more of an observer of your mind than a character and it helps distance the negativity. It takes practice- keep trying. It takes 6 weeks to form a habit!
Journaling some people can write all day long about what they think or dreamt about, others find it very difficult to even put pen to paper. Find what is best for you and keep it handy- this could be Post It notes, a small pad, a diary or a large note book. For those of you that struggle here are some tips on journaling:
- Draw a picture if you can’t write about it
- Write one or two words that sum up how you feel about you or your day
- What made you happy today?
- What would you like to change in your life?
- Set up columns that you wish to fill in- these could be: happy, sad, goals, improvements, needs work etc… if you keep these columns for a few weeks or even a month you will be able to see movements in your columns showing progress.
- If you want to focus on more positive things in the midst of the negativity, then turn your notebook in to a gratitude diary- only writing things that you are grateful for that day.