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12 Common Yet Harmful Negative Thoughts Everyone Should Avoid

12 Common Yet Harmful Negative Thoughts Everyone Should Avoid

When going about your day-to-day life, it can be all too easy to fall into bad habits. Possibly one of the most harmful habits is negative thinking patterns. Because your thoughts determine your actions, getting in a rut of negative thinking can have a real effect on your life. While changing habits can be a challenge, getting out of the routine of negative thinking will ultimately make you a more effective person. The following 12 negative thoughts are all too common and easy to fall into, but can also be simple to replace.

“I’ll never be able to do that.”

One very common yet harmful negative thought is the word “never”. When saying we will never accomplish something, what we really mean is it will be difficult to undertake. However, by using the word “never” instead of describing the challenge accurately, we limit how much we can achieve. Instead of telling yourself you can never finish an undertaking, try looking at the situation as outside your grasp now, but one you could eventually work towards.

“They’re way better than me.”

Another very common negative thought we fall into is comparing ourselves to others. Particularly in the world of social media, it’s easy to see the best in others and the worst in ourselves. In fact, we don’t see other people’s bad days or worst qualities, so we should be much easier on ourselves. When you find yourself comparing your accomplishments to others, try to remind yourself that your only competitor in life is you. If you focus on your accomplishments and how you can do a little bit better each day, it won’t matter where others are because you’re making progress.

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“My failures will always outweigh my successes.”

Another negative thought many of us fall victim to is being overly critical with ourselves. In trying to stay motivated or focused, it can be easy to be too hard on ourselves. Much like comparing ourselves to others, if we focus on the negatives, it interferes with our ability to move forward. If you are prone to being overly critical on yourself, try and approach your situation with the same sentiments you would approach a friend in the same circumstances. Where we can be too critical with ourselves, with friends we tend to be more encouraging and forgiving. Approaching the situation as if giving advice to a friend can help you appreciate what you’ve done right and keep yourself going.

“I’ll never forgive him.”

Another easy way to let harmful thoughts get in the way of your life is to hold onto negative feelings or grudges too long. It is important to learn from our mistakes, so you shouldn’t forget, but letting yourself forgive will set you free. Once something has happened, there’s no going back. While you should try and remember what to do better in the future, dwelling on past circumstances only interferes with your ability to find happiness today. If you struggle with letting go, try to remind yourself that the only way negative situations have power over you is if you obsess over them.

“It’s not my fault!”

Another negative thought that’s easy to miss is blaming others. It’s never easy to clean up someone else’s mess, but when we overemphasize what caused the problem, it can impede our ability to overcome it. When you find yourself too concerned with blaming others, try to remember this only takes time away from finding a solution.

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“They’re being rude on purpose.”

Much like blaming others, judging others is a negative thought that holds many of us back. By judging others, we assume that we have all the information about a situation. In reality, there are often many factors and circumstances which we are unaware of. Judging others takes time away from moving forward in life, but also can have a negative impact on relationships and acquaintances. If you are prone to judging others, keep in mind that the only person’s head you are inside of is yours, and others often deal with things much more difficult than we know.

“I should have done it differently.”

Much like failing to let go of negative situations or decisions, being preoccupied with what you should have done can be harmful. When we fixate on the past, it makes it harder for us to move into the future. Not only that, focusing on alternate versions of our options is all guesswork, and there’s no way of telling that another situation would be better. Instead of focusing on what you could’ve done or what you should’ve done, work out what you can do today to better your current state.

“It’s already too late.”

Thinking that we are too late is another negative thought many of us are guilty of. By assuming that our moment has passed, we limit the opportunities we pursue. Rather than focusing on how other people or companies have succeeded where we would like to, try and search for ways that you could make yourself stand out. Often, believing it’s too late prevents the one thing needed most for success: just jumping in.

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“It’s way too hard.”

Another negative thought that makes us sell ourselves short is thinking a problem is too hard. By labeling an endeavor as too hard, we are less likely to take it on. When you find yourself thinking a task is too hard, try to think instead that the challenge is something you’re currently working on.

“They’re talking about me.”

Another negative thought pattern many of us fall into is thinking that we know another person’s thoughts. By assuming that a glance, or nearby whispers, are negative judgments on you, it can be easy to let other’s innocuous actions influence our own. In actuality, nobody knows what someone else is thinking, and presuming another person is judging us is just projecting our own insecurities. If you find yourself assuming other people think negatively of you, just remember that you’re not inside their head, and that same person is likely worried that others are judging them.

“I know this won’t go well.”

By assuming we know the future, we can fall into another negative thought pattern. Much like assuming we know what’s happening in another person’s head, assuming we know how a situation “should” unfold can negatively impact how we go about life. Though many of us feel intuitively like certain things will happen, blaming others or losing your cool when things go poorly, you run the risk of alienating yourself from opportunities that could be solutions.

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“That ruined my whole day.”

All or nothing thinking is another negative thought pattern that can be harmful. By failing to see nuances in life, we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We all have negative and positive experiences, but if you view every experience as the absolute worst or utter best, it will be difficult to appreciate moments that aren’t perfect, but are still enjoyable. Remember that most experiences are shades of grey, rather than black and white, and it’s up to us to make the most of them.

Featured photo credit: sad eyes/hannah k via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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