Toxic thoughts can not only stop you from finding true happiness, they create a negative spiral leading to physical symptoms, issues and more. Negative thoughts and emotions can be so draining to you and everyone you share them with. That’s not saying to “fake it ‘till you make it” or push aside painful feelings. Emotions deserve attention so they can pass. When we default to the habitual toxic thoughts that only create more pessimism, negativity, fear, bitterness, resentment and more however…it’s time for a new plan.
Beware of these toxic thoughts and use counter-strategies to increase your happiness:
- I’ll always be alone. Being lonely and feeling isolated at times are normal human emotions. However, being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. Being alone is a great time to figure out what’s important to you, what you like, don’t like and what you need if you’re planning on sharing your time with someone in the future.
- Instead of thinking you’ll always be alone, focus on what you already have. Do you have loving parents or siblings? Do you have amazing friends or coworkers? If you look carefully, you’ll see you’re never truly alone.
- Also, is that a fact? Are you absolutely certain that you’ll always be alone and there’s zero chance that the right person and relationship won’t come along at any point in your future?
- I hate my body. Hating your body can be one of the most toxic thoughts you can have. It can lead to eating disorders, self-esteem issues, a lack of confidence, shame, and other challenges. Everyone can find an imperfection, but it’s important to avoid dwelling on them. That’s not to say that if you’re feeling unfit and/or overweight you want to ignore it. But, is criticizing yourself doing anything to help? If it motivates you to get started on a healthier lifestyle plan that’s one thing-then at least it’s useful. If you’re only criticizing yourself and feeling the negativity of your words, that’s not helping your body or mind at all.
- Are you unhappy with your body because of a specific challenge or disability? If so, are there beautiful qualities that have emerged, kindness in others or anything else you’ve noticed because of it?
- Since this is the only body you have during this lifetime, let’s find something to like about it. It’s the only “vehicle” taking you around to do all you do in a day. Notice the things you do like about your body. Accentuate those characteristics, focus on them, and you’ll find it easier to start loving (or at least accepting) the body you have.
- I’m not happy with my career. Your job can make you feel unhappy, but it’s another toxic thought. If that unhappiness inspires you to look for a different job or do your current job differently, than it’s useful. If you’re only complaining about what you don’t like, it’s not encouraging any positive steps you may take towards something better. If realizing you’re unhappy with your job invites new ideas for different career paths or businesses, see how you feel when you’re considering something new. Is there a fear of trying something new? Fear of leaving what’s known, predictable and familiar? What’s the price you’re paying from settling and is it worth it? Or, have you simply outgrown your current job and the boredom or unhappiness is a sign that you’re ready for more?
- I’m not worthy. This toxic thought can wear many outfits. You may feel that you’re not worthy of love, success, money, or other things. You may believe that you always have to suffer and struggle. You may decide that you’re not meant for greater things.
- This toxic thought can stop you from enjoying life and finding happiness.
- These feelings of worthlessness are only in your mind. You’re a unique person who has value, although you’ve convinced yourself otherwise. Whether the belief came from someone coming from a set of limiting beliefs themselves or it was something you took on by yourself, it’s time to let this one go. It’s preventing you from just about everything you want.
- Often, this toxic thought comes from what you think others are thinking about you. You falsely assume that others don’t see any value in you, so you’re self-esteem sinks to a low level. This is especially common when it comes to betrayal. We can easily assume that if someone betrayed us, we’re somehow less than in some way even though someone else’s actions were about them, not about you.
- How about this instead-congratulate yourself each time you do something right. Find things that you do well. Even small ones count. For example, if you made a healthy breakfast, congratulate yourself. If you like the outfit you’re wearing, kudos to you for picking out something nice. If you stopped yourself from going down that familiar rabbit hole where you ruminate on a painful experience coming out of it no better than you went into it, that’s great! Let your thoughts start focusing on what you do right.
- I don’t have enough. This toxic thought can manifest itself in so many ways, such as thinking you don’t have enough money, skills, talents, or abilities. You may also think you don’t have enough connections, friends, children, things, etc..
- Scarcity thoughts stop you from appreciating what you already have around you. They prevent you from finding joy and being thankful. With these thoughts, you may never have enough material possessions or people to love, regardless of how many you actually have.
- You can certainly strive for more, but it’s important to also be thankful for what you do
Toxic thoughts are easy to create and often hard to eliminate. They can overwhelm you if you aren’t careful. If toxic thoughts have gotten a hold on you, it’s important to see how they’re impacting your health, work and relationships. Then, come up with a plan to stop them in their tracks so you create the life you deserve. Notice when these toxic thoughts arise. Immediately, switch that thought to one that’s more positive and uplifts you. Meditate, repeat affirmations, and try these ideas to loosen their grip.
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute