Check out this Bustle piece about common thoughts that can have a negative impact on your well being. It includes examples from therapists, including yours truly.
If you recognize any of these, or struggle with toxic thoughts that aren't on this list, you are not alone! We all think thoughts from time to time that can cause us harm.
The real danger is when these types of thoughts hang around a lot. When we think harmful thoughts constantly or frequently, they begin to affect how we see ourselves in a profound way.
The best first step is to bring awareness to them. Once we see them, they already have less power. When we don't notice them, we can't question whether they are true and we can't consider the impact that thinking them is having on our mental health.
But if we start to catch ourselves thinking these harmful thoughts, we can examine them. We can consider whether it's possible they aren't true.
Even really compelling thoughts start to fall apart when we take a closer look. Are there times when the thought isn't true?
Check out my post about kicking the habit of self-criticism for a more in depth look at how to deal with these harmful thoughts so that they don't run (or ruin) our lives.
In a previous post, I talked about how fear of others’ judgement can get in the way of enjoying the present moment.
That piece also touched on how judging others can be a protective strategy, an attempt to keep ourselves from looking at things that feel scary or shameful. Judgement can also be a way of trying to make ourselves less vulnerable so that, theoretically, we can't be let down or rejected.
When we judge others, we create a barrier which makes it difficult to experience the connection we so desperately crave.
Very often we turn that judgement around to ourselves.
At times, self-judgment can be another kind of protective strategy: if I criticize myself before others do, I can’t be hurt.*
*Note: This does not actually work.
After working with people for many years, certain universal truths began to reveal themselves.
We all long for connection.
We all long to be seen, understood, loved and accepted.
And: We are terrified these things won't ever happen.
We feel ashamed. We feel lonely. We feel afraid.
We compare ourselves and our lives to others and we rarely measure up.
When welcoming new people to class, my Zumba teacher often tells them not to worry about what other people are thinking.
"No one is watching you; I promise," she says.
fara tucker, lcsw
therapist and teacher in Portland, Oregon