With New Year’s around the corner, so come a raft of personal resolutions to do something about a vice, or even start a new health kick. However for a lot of people, a number of negative thoughts may hinder their own personal achievements ahead of 2023.
A study conducted by OnePoll asked 2000 adults to reveal some of the negative thoughts that demotivate themselves, concluding in the most common negative thoughts being ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m overweight,’ and ‘I’m not good looking’ on a daily basis. will think of things 11 times-a-day which will hinder their progress towards achieving their goals, with 37 per cent feeling like they are their own worst enemy.
34 per cent feel their own thoughts have stopped them from achieving certain aims, including finding new work (40 percent), expressing their true feelings (38 percent) and achieving their health goals (35 percent). More interesting is that while 34 percent felt they were letting themselves down, a large number also felt they were letting other people down (32 percent.)
“Negative or intrusive thoughts, otherwise known as thought distortions, will be experienced by most of the population at some point in their lives” Andreas Michaelides, chief of psychology at app-based weight loss program, Noom, explains. “They are usually biassed, exaggerated and inaccurate, and they can cause us to reach conclusions about ourselves that are not based in reality.”
However, Michaelides believes there are ways to handle these thought processes. “Learning to recognise thought distortions is the first step to unpacking their content and reframing your approach,” he explains. “Some of the most popular positive affirmations that help people combat thought distortions include ‘I am grateful for everything I have in my life’, ‘I can do this’, and ‘I am making progress’.”
He concludes: “We all have the occasional crisis of confidence, especially after facing setbacks or a stressful day. However, it’s important not to have an all-or-nothing reaction. “Psychology has shown that we are much more likely to achieve our goals if we think positively, and it’s encouraging to see that almost two thirds of Brits recognise this.”
Tips to combat negative thoughts
Have you found yourself in a similar situation to those who were polled regarding negative thoughts? Andreas Michaelides has also provided tips on how to fight off those negative feelings.
1 - When you recognise a negative thought entering your mind, take a moment to walk yourself back through the chain of events that led to that thought. Are you able to identify the initial trigger? Examining this chain of events can help you uncover patterns of behaviour that you may not have noticed before. Once you’ve identified these triggers, you can begin to work on developing a new response that won’t lead to negative thoughts.
2 - Remember: thoughts are not necessarily facts. It’s important we learn to separate our thoughts and feelings from facts and ask ourselves, is this true? For example: you may say to yourself “I’m too stressed to exercise today.” If you spend some time examining your thoughts you may come to realise that you don’t want to exercise that day (which is OK!) or you may recognise that you are feeling stressed and that exercise is a proven and effective stress reliever, helping you re-evaluate your feelings from facts. If you recognise that your thought isn’t a fact, you suddenly have more clarity on what you want to do.
3 - Reframing your thoughts is the process of changing the context around a thought, so we can look at it differently. This works by helping you recognise common unhelpful thoughts (‘I haven’t exercised today, I’m useless’) and replace them with new ideas (‘I haven’t exercised today; it’s been a tough day and that’s OK.’). Evaluating your thoughts and ideas like this can be challenging, and at times uncomfortable, but it’s an important part of establishing positive thought patterns.
4 - Radical acceptance is totally accepting your current reality as your current reality in a non-judgemental way. Ditching the critical voice in your head and not letting your emotions call the shots. Radically accepting your current situation and how you feel about it doesn’t mean you can’t change, grow, evolve, or even reframe your feelings in the future. It simply means that what exists now is OK.