We all have problems. However, many of those problems are actually caused by our own mind instead of what’s going on in reality. It lies in the habit of our thinking. Especially for people with anxiety, the impact of bad thoughts can be very significant and might even become physical. Fortunately, thinking habits, like any habit, can be changed.
Here are six common thinking habits that harm you and what to do about them:
1. Worrying about what people might think of you
Here’s the funny thing about what people might think of you — it’s all in your head. Remember when you meet eyes with a stranger?
On a good day you think, oh it must be because they find me attractive. On a bad day, you think, shit there must be something on my face.
The point is, you have no idea what they’re thinking. And even if they do tell you, you can’t be sure if they’re telling the truth. Solution? Stop obsessing about it altogether and go about your life with positive thoughts.
2. Wondering the what-ifs
It’s easy to get stuck in the world of what-ifs. What if I didn’t send that text message? What if I didn’t take that job offer? What if I asked him out and he rejected me? What if he has changed? And the list goes on and on and literally has no end while time doesn’t stop for anyone.
You’ll know the answer to none of these questions if you don’t stop digging the rabbit hole of mind-wandering and start making a decision, any decision to move forward with your life. Accept what is done is done and learn to ask yourself the right questions — the questions that advance you, not hold you back.
3. Beating yourself up over past decisions
Past decisions are just that: done decisions that belong to the past. Most likely, you did what you did because it was your best option in that moment given the circumstance — there’s no point in regretting.
More importantly, you cannot change them or fix the past now — it’s gone forever. Dwelling on them only costs you time and energy which could be spent on actually improving your situation.
Look forward because the bright future is ahead. Your life is now. Not to mention your past decisions, no matter how good or bad, have you shown your character and shaped you the way you are — that self-knowledge is invaluable.
4. Comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others which results in feeling either better or worse about yourself is detrimental to your well-being because your self-esteem is now tied to other people instead of coming from within you.
The truth is, you will always find someone who’s better than you one way or the other and the comparison will never end (definitely not end in your favour) if you don’t know your own worth.
You have your own life, your own gifts and other people have theirs — there’s no 100% fair ground for any comparison to make between you and any of them. Focus on yourself and make the most of what you have.
5. Judging people
When you judge people on whatever aspect, it’s not the problem of those who you judge — they’re being themselves living their life that has nothing to do with you — it’s actually your problem, sometimes even deep-rooted issues you might not be aware of.
Ironically, you, but not anyone else, are the one who has to deal with all the negativity of those judgments as you hold them in your mind. Also, when judging others, you’re indirectly judging yourself on the same aspect. In a nutshell, it serves no beneficial purpose.
So why not just let the judgment go? Let people be. Let yourself be. Be kind and compassionate.
6. Picking on your own body
You have this one precious body (and brain) that does all the amazing stuff such as keeping you alive and allowing you to write, sing, dance, walk your lovely dog, yet you decide to focus on how it looks and tears it apart the moment you get the chance.
It’s cliché but you’re really amazing the way you are. How you look is a gift from your parents, a reminder of your own root, evidence of diverse beauty.
Don’t let yourself defined by other people’s standards. Have your own standard. Take good care of your body. Love yourself — that’s the one thing nobody can take away from you.