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If Overthinking Is Your Habit, You’ve Judged Yourself Too Much

If Overthinking Is Your Habit, You’ve Judged Yourself Too Much

We are all victims of overthinking. For some of us it can be a fleeting thought but for many of us it can cause real damage in our perception of ourselves, others and the world around us.

Overthinking is an epidemic stemming from our tendency to compare ourselves to others; feeling inadequate and focusing too much on negative aspects of situations. In essence, it’s our judgemental thought patterns that create this world in our mind – a world of low self-worth and disconnect with our true self.

How Overthinking and Self-Judgement Are Connected

As humans, we are capable of deep, critical thinking about many subjects. If our mental health isn’t always healthy, we tend to judge ourselves and the relationship we have with everything. This causes us to hone in on a narrow idea of who we are. We’re too fat, too old, unsuccessful, unassertive, not passionate enough – and the worst one of all: not good enough.

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For example, if you have feelings of self-doubt about your ability to be successful, then this seed of thought can affect all areas of your life such as career, goals and dreams, relationships and friendships. Overthinking the lack of success and your ability to achieve it leads to more self-judgement. When opportunities arise in life like the perfect job interview or the perfect love, you end up sabotaging your potential through the act of overthinking your low worth and inability to succeed.

In essence, it can be a vicious cycle where overthinking leads to self-criticising, which in turn, leads to more overthinking.

To Stop Judging Ourselves We Need To Stop Judging Others

Judging others is just the start. If we have the ability to judge others based on our preconceived ideas and prejudices, then we have the ability to judge ourselves but with much harsher consequences. This inevitably leads to the overthinking we’re so familiar with.

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Training ourselves not to judge others is the first step. Look at these two people – what judgemental thoughts arise when you look at them?

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      Is the well-dressed, slim person successful but the over-weight person lazy or unsuccessful? Neither are necessarily true. It can be shocking what assumptions we make based on first perceptions but it’s these that are the basis of our own self-judgement.

      The art of taking in the whole view rather than making a stern, often wrong, decision on something is often practised by Buddhists. Mediation teaches us to not judge our thoughts but to note them and let them go on their merry way. Just observing a simple object can help identify our way of making judgements.

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        Try with a strawberry – what conclusions to do get from looking at it? Ask yourself why you make these assumptions.

        Move on to people – watch people when you’re out and about. See what assumptions you make about them and their lives – why do you have these views?

        Finally try this on the judgements you make on yourself and question whether your perceptions are really just illusions you create.

        By doing this, you can start to lessen your tendency to overthink. Once negative thoughts about yourself start to build up, you are in a better position to notice and understand them. But more importantly, stop them in their tracks.

        So, don’t beat yourself up for judging yourself. Realise that your perceptions can be based on false views and assumptions. Having the right mindset is the key to creating happiness in yourself – free of unnecessary worry and overthinking and building a space of non-judgement. Give yourself a break.

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        Jenny Marchal

        A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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        Last Updated on October 14, 2020

        Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

        Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

        Do you feel that you can become a better person, but your personality is hindering you from doing so?

        Are you one of those people who is making a conscious effort to change, but no matter how hard you try, you remain a prisoner of your personality traits?

        Don’t lose hope – it is indeed possible to change your personality!

        Personality Crisis

        According to the widely accepted model of personality with over 50 years worth of research and study, there are five dimensions of our personality, known as the “Big Five:”

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        • Extraversion: People with high levels of this personality dimension are much more outgoing and tend to be more comfortable in social situations compared to others.
        • Agreeableness: Your level in this dimension determines whether you are more cooperative with other people or competitive (even to the point of being manipulative) with other people.
        • Conscientiousness: Thoughtful people who have high levels of this trait dimension are much more detail-oriented and driven.
        • Neuroticism: Moodiness and the propensity for sadness are associated with people who possess excessive amounts of this personality dimension.
        • Openness: Imaginative and insightful people are very receptive to change and new experiences, whereas those who are not are much more stubborn and reluctant to try out new things.

        These personality dimensions are further shaped by our genetics and our upbringing, the latter of which also involves our living environment and culture. These factors ultimately help shape your personality as you grow up, some of which could lead to personality disorders.

        However, your personality is never fully set in stone. In fact, it is not uncommon for adults to tweak their personalities as they prepare themselves for new challenges and life situations. For example, stubborn partners will find themselves making an effort to become more cooperative with their loved ones if they want their relationship to work. While these instances may not necessarily lead to positive results, it is evidence enough that changing your personality is not impossible.

        The question that begs to be asked is this:

        How Much Effort Are People Willing to Put in to Make That Change?

        According to a recent study at the University of Illinois, only 13% of respondents were satisfied with their personalities – most of them wanted to change for the better. However, instead of encouraging these people to get help from experts or take courses, R. Chris Fraley and Nathan Hudson conducted different tests instead to see if the respondents can quantify their personalities to make the necessary changes. The results of the test were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which you can view here.

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        The first experiment involved an introductory psychology class, who were educated about the Big Five personality dimensions and asked to grade their personalities by filling out a rating form. They were then asked if they wanted something to change in their personality over the 16-week period of this study. To do this, they needed to find a way to change their undesirable personality traits using goals and metrics to track their progress.

        Among the 135 participants, half joined the “change plan” condition, in which they were given writing assignments over the same period to assess the changes they need to make for their personalities. Every week, they were also required to complete additional writing assignments to evaluate their progress further. The other half were not asked to write – instead, they were placed in a controlled setting and were provided feedback about their development.

        The second experiment involved roughly the same number of participants. The only variable that Fraley and Hudson changed is that, instead of focusing on personality traits, they targeted daily behavior related to the traits that defined their personalities.

        The result of both experiments demonstrates the capacity for people to make breakthroughs with their personalities. Participants were able to make strides by getting better scores on personality traits that they wanted to improve. However, the comprehensive change plans only had a modest impact on the actual changes in personality. Also, the 16-week period for the study was not enough for the participants to make the drastic changes one might expect.

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        Steps to a Better You

        Now that you are aware that you can still change your personality, below are some proactive steps that you can take so you can make the change as early as possible.

        1. Do not let “labels” define you

        You are not a shy and timid person. Nor are you a cold and callous one. You are simply a person full of potential to change and become a better version of yourself every day. You can be anything, as long as you put your mind to it.

        2. Do good deeds

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        Getting rid of a terrible personality can start with doing something good. A study published in Motivation and Emotion suggests that engaging in acts of kindness allows you to overcome anxiety. Letting the focus from yourself shift to others leads to more opportunities for social engagement.

        3. Just wait

        If you cannot force change, then let it come to you. According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics, change that naturally takes place is not out of the question. The more you undergo transformative experiences in life as you grow older, the more chances that changes in your personality take place.

        At the end of the day, change is inevitable. As mentioned above, our personalities are shaped by our experiences in life. By exposing ourselves to positive experiences that we can live by and keeping an open mind for our own identities, there is no doubt that change for the better is indeed possible.

        Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/GmoHIZ61eMo via unsplash.com

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