Are you an unhelpful thinker?
We all have the potential to allow unhelpful thoughts stream in and dominate our emotional well-being. When we do this we make life far more difficult for us than it needs to be.
I use the term “unhelpful thinking” rather than “negative thinking” because when people realise they’re thinking negatively they often get into even more negativity judging themselves for doing so! Identifying your unhelpful thinking isn’t about judging yourself for getting it wrong but rather finding ways to improve your happiness.
Quite often unhelpful thinking is a habit that we don’t even recognise – but here are 3 ways to become more aware of it and 3 ways to shift it!
1. Morning Grumps
If you’re in a bad mood it’s one thing stepping back and considering what you’ve been thinking about to put you there – but what if you wake up in a bad mood? What if you wake up and that feeling of discontent and grumpiness is already there before you’ve even opened your eyes?
You can make the shift from this by beginning to notice your thoughts before you fall asleep at night. Your falling asleep thoughts drift into your subconscious and percolate there ready to be launched as you wake up.
If you go to bed thinking unhelpfully about something:
• Ruminating over some difficult conversation
• Stressing over how you are going to manage a problem
• Regretting some past event
You are likely to wake up with those thoughts hovering, perhaps not at the very surface of your awareness but certainly having a direct effect on how you feel.
Monitor your falling asleep thoughts and specifically choose more helpful ones, such as
• “That conversation is over – I can’t change it now. Next time I will approach it differently”
• “I’ll write out a plan to manage this problem – tomorrow.”
• “The past is gone – but what have I learnt from it?”
2. Oh I Give Up !
Everybody has a dream, we love to make changes in our lives, to do new things and be inspired. People have all sorts of wishes and desires; to write a book, move to a new location, start a business, go to college…….
It can start out well – all is going to plan, then everything seems to go wrong and you get stuck. You think
• “What’s the point!”
• “Why does everyone else manage to do this but not me?”
• “Maybe I’m just doomed to be a failure!”
The Shift comes when you begin to understand that every dream – will have rocky patches, hurdles and challenges. Life is all about expanding and evolving, about learning new things so that we can grow into our wisdom. In this way you cannot ever truly gain anything without having to go through some challenges and difficulties.
If you keep giving up on your dreams because you get stuck in challenges you can make the shift by choosing to think:
• “Wow – this is a great new challenge”
• What can I learn from this experience?
• This is part of my journey on this project – who can I ask for help?
3. Exasperating People!”
Is there someone who really annoys you to the point of Grrr! Maybe they seem take up all your emotional energy? Or stop you from getting on with things?
It’s often the case that those people who are the most annoying and exasperating in our lives are the people who are here to teach us the greatest of lessons so that we can learn and become wiser. The trouble is we don’t recognise this but instead get into the unhelpful habit of always expecting them to be a problem to us.
Here’s a powerful little exercise you can do to shift this.
Take a piece of paper and draw a circle. Place the exasperating person in the middle and place yourself somewhere on the edge of the circle. Just below where you have placed yourself write down all the unhelpful thoughts you have about this person.
Now take a different colour pen and choose another part of the circle and draw yourself again. This time you are looking at this person from a different viewpoint – what do they seem like from this different angle? Are they really so bad? What new and more helpful thoughts will you write down about them?
You and Me and All of Us
The secret is that from time to time we are all Unhelpful Thinkers; but practicing these 3 ways to make a shift will help you greatly towards having a happier, wiser and more joyful life.
I’d love to hear your comments on this – do any of these unhelpful ways of thinking resonate with you?
As always, from my heart-space to yours
Marléne Rose Shaw