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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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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