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The Secret to Being Mentally Strong? Remove These 10 Errors from Your Mind

The Secret to Being Mentally Strong? Remove These 10 Errors from Your Mind

You may think thoughts are inconsequential – coming and going in a sometimes meaningful or meaningless way. But the thoughts we have and the way we think are more substantial than you may realise.

Getting into patterns of thought and creating different beliefs essentially shape our lives and our outlook on ourselves, how we perceive others and the world around us.

We can choose to think positive or negative thoughts on any given subject but, as humans, our tendency is to go straight to the negative which can have a detrimental effect on our mental strength.

Fixing Common Thinking Errors Can Bring You Lifelong Benefits

Making a conscious effort to notice our negative thought patterns and stopping them, takes great habit but it’s not impossible. It can be hard to undo a lifetime of thinking. But if you do find your thoughts are erring on the side of negative ask yourself, you should ask yourself: are they really benefiting me?

Here I’ll be going through 10 thinking errors and why they aren’t serving you. See if you identify with any of them and make today the day you start thinking differently.

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10 Most Common Thinking Errors You Should Get Rid of

Overgeneralising

We create core negative beliefs through overgeneralising but the reason we do this is because it’s easy to fall into the trap. If we failed badly at something then we apply that belief to every time we attempt that thing again and more. Say you were in a relationship where the other person cheated on you or treated you badly – overgeneralising would be to believe all men (or women) cheat or that you’ll always be treated badly in relationships.

Don’t push the outcome of one contained situation onto other areas of your life.

Ignoring the Positive

Have you found that if one thing goes badly in your day that’s all you can focus on? We tend to choose to ignore and filter out any positives even though they massively outweigh that one negative.

Try and make a habit of picking out and focusing on all the positive aspects of the day whether it was your smooth commute to work, your partner bringing you a cup of morning coffee, the delicious lunch you had – decide to look at these things and conclude that positivity is all around you. Don’t ruin a day by focusing on a single negative.

Taking Things Personally

It’s natural to feel like the world revolves around us but sometimes our thinking can cause us to only see things from our perspective and how we feel about a situation. If someone at work is short with you, you suddenly assume you’ve done something wrong. If your friend doesn’t text back straight away, then she must be angry at you for some reason.

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But most of the time it’s nothing to do with you but more to do with them. Don’t be so quick to make it about yourself and understand other people are going through different negative emotions that aren’t related to you. When this kind of situation happens, make a point of realising that other factors could be influencing another person’s reaction.

Negative Emotional Reasoning

When negative emotions come up it’s best to not let them influence our thoughts. But it’s very easy to believe the connection our mind makes with our negative emotions – if you feel you’re a bad person, it doesn’t actually mean that you are. If you’re feeling down and conclude you’re a loser, this doesn’t mean you are a loser!

Ride out any emotional reasoning and put it down to a blip – don’t make conclusions about yourself as a result of them.

Magnifying or Minimising

Negative expectations can cause us to think the ‘what if’ questions. If I quit my job what if I don’t find another one? What if I hate the new job? What if I hate the people I work with? And of course, this kind of thinking can stop us from making decisions we probably deep-down want to make. This is magnifying a situation in an unnecessary negative way.

On the other end of the spectrum, we can also minimise things especially positive and desirable aspects of ourselves. Both are detrimental to living our life in a confident and real way.

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Making Assumptions about What Others Are Thinking

Everyone sometimes makes assumptions about what others’ perceptions are on any given topic. But we can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. If you have the tendency to believe people think badly or negatively of you then remember that most people are too busy worrying about themselves to truly care what you’re wearing, saying or how you act. Don’t put so much emphasis on assumptions.

Black and White Thinking

Sometimes it’s easy to think things are either one thing or another, in other words, all or nothing – good or bad. But this kind of limited thinking filters out all the shades of grey.

By doing this you don’t see every aspect of something – for example, if every project is a success or a failure then you can’t see the opportunities to grow or better any mistakes along the way that may lead to a completely different idea or direction. Remember the world is multi-faceted so make your perspective the same way.

Focusing on the ‘Shoulds’

Society has made us feel we need to live our lives in a certain way. A lot of the time we make decisions because we feel we should but who exactly is saying you should? Is it based on a set of rules made by other people? Is it because your family expect it of you?

Next time you feel yourself saying you should do something despite it making you unhappy, question why. Make up your own ‘shoulds’ that are based on what makes you happy.

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The Blame Game

When we have negative emotional reactions we can easily push the blame on to others. But only we can be held responsible for how we react to people and situations. Don’t hold other people responsible – no one can make us feel the way we feel except us. Once you get to grips with this, it can not only be empowering but greatly improve your relationships with others.

The Need to Always Be Right

This is a hugely common trait in many of us. How many times do you feel frustrated that someone has a different opinion or perspective than you? That constant need to prove that you’re right and they’re wrong is a mindset that can be changed.

Understanding that everyone is going through life with different challenges, experiences and perspectives is what makes this world an exciting place. Be cognisant of how others feel when voicing your opinion and respect theirs. Don’t feel like you always have to be right because sometimes you just might not be.

So remember, the way we think has far more influence on the shaping of our lives than you may realise. Changing negative thought patterns is a huge step towards creating a more positive mindset and outlook for the benefit of yourself and others.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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