Recently I read an article over at the SparkPeople.com website called ‘3 Ways to Stop Negative Thinking: Don’t Let Negative Thoughts Sabotage Your Efforts’ by Dean Anderson. Dean Anderson lists three points in his article; 1] ‘Look for Hidden Thoughts and Assumptions;’ 2] ‘Learn to Argue with Yourself;’ and 3] ‘Do What Doesn’t Come Naturally’ that I found very helpful to use and apply to my own life. While the articles’ primary focus is towards weight loss as your goal, I believe it can apply to every area of our lives as well. I know it certainly does for my life!
Dean Anderson says “The tendency to leap from minor, trivial problems to overblown, unrealistic conclusions is something that everyone struggles with to some degree. This type of negative thinking is one of the biggest reasons that people have difficulty sticking to their weight loss plan-and why small problems can cause stress and misery that is often avoidable.” I know that I have sabotaged myself numerous times through the years, not only with my weight loss efforts but with other areas in my life as well, with exactly that type of negative thinking. I think it is time for a change in my life and in my thinking and I like Dean Anderson’s article to help point me to a more positive way of thinking. Now I would like to go through the three points that Dean Anderson makes in his article.
1] ‘Look for Hidden Thoughts and Assumptions.’
Our thoughts are a process that happens so fast that we aren’t always aware of exactly how we reached a specific conclusion. We get so used to our thought processes and if we do have any feelings of inadequacy, then we may ‘feel’ right about reaching conclusions that are negative about ourselves.
Dean Anderson says “Although you can’t completely prevent automatic thoughts from occurring (after all, they naturally help us make good decisions in a hurry), these thoughts are not always accurate. Chronic negativity about yourself or your situation is a good sign that your automatic thoughts are inaccurate.”
2] ‘Learn to Argue with Yourself’
We are to ask ourselves questions that help us to stop and think about exactly WHY we are thinking the way we are thinking. Plus we need to ask ourselves if we would be as harsh with a friend that came to ask for our advice as we are on ourselves. I am definitely guilty of this sort of ‘all or nothing’ thinking and it has stopped me from doing many things in my life. When I have negative thoughts about myself, that’s when I need to argue with myself about those feelings and give myself a pep talk about how I am not a failure just because I made one mistake. I know this negative self-talk is very difficult for me to change but it is very important to do so that I may succeed in whatever goal I am trying to reach.
Dean Anderson says “…[ask yourself] questions, [and] the more easily you’ll be able to spot-and correct-your negative automatic thoughts that are lurking underneath your tendency to assume the worst whenever things don’t go the way you planned.”
3] ‘Do What Doesn’t Come Naturally’
This particular point reminds me of one of my grandsons’ favorite cartoons, an episode of Spongebob Squarepants called ‘Opposite Day’ where everything is opposite of what it usually is, just for one day. I think it’s a great point to keep in mind because what comes normally to MY way of thinking is usually extremely negative about myself and includes thoughts that I don’t deserve good things. Logically I know these thoughts are total garbage but I definitely have to remember to ‘do what doesn’t come naturally’ so I can change this type of thinking about myself! I am much harsher on myself than I am on any of my family or friends and that is not ‘right’ thinking at all!
Dean Anderson says “When you find yourself arriving at a negative conclusion about you or your situation, stop thinking that and start thinking the exact opposite.”
I have read Dean Anderson’s article several times and I plan to save it and re-read it whenever I find that my thinking is slipping into those harsh and negative paths. You can read the full article by Dean Anderson at the SparkPeople.com website here.