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  • All-or-nothing thinking. You see things as either all good or all bad. For example, “If I don’t succeed in this task, I’m a total failure.”
  • Mental filtering. You see only negatives and dwell on them, distorting your view of a person or situation. For example, “I made a mistake on that report and now everyone will realize I’m not up to this job.”
  • Converting positives into negatives. You reject your achievements and other positive experiences by insisting that they don’t count. For example, “I only did well on that test because it was so easy.”
  • Jumping to negative conclusions. You reach a negative conclusion when little or no evidence supports it. For example, “My friend hasn’t replied to my email, so I must have done something to make her angry.”
  • Mistaking feelings for facts. You confuse feelings or beliefs with facts. For example, “I feel like a failure, so I must be a failure.”
  • Negative self-talk. You undervalue yourself, put yourself down or use self-deprecating humor. For example, “I don’t deserve anything better.”

4. Reframe your thinking

Photo by Hoang Le on Unsplash

Replace your inaccurate and often negative and self-destructive thinking with more helpful thinking. Try some of the following out.

  • Use hopeful statements. Treat yourself with kindness and encouragement. Instead of thinking your presentation won’t go well, try telling yourself things such as, “Even though it’s tough, I can handle this situation.”
  • Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes — and mistakes aren’t permanent reflections on you as a person. They’re isolated moments in time. Tell yourself, “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t make me a bad person.”
  • Avoid ‘should’ and ‘must’ statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Removing these words from your thoughts can lead to more realistic expectations.
  • Focus on the positive. Think about the parts of your life that work well. Consider the skills you’ve used to cope with challenging situations.
  • Consider what you’ve learned. If it was a negative experience, what might you do differently the next time to create a more positive outcome?
  • Relabel upsetting thoughts. You don’t need to react negatively to negative thoughts. Instead, think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, “What can I think and do to make this less stressful?”
  • Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example, “My presentation might not have been perfect, but my colleagues asked questions and remained engaged — which means that I accomplished my goal.”

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John Halstead

John Halstead

I grew up in New York, lived in Vermont for a decade, and then moved to Texas for twenty years. I am currently a school teacher a blogger and a podcaster.