You’re in your head 24/7.
Even when you are completely alone in a room, there are probably a thousand thoughts running through your mind the entire time. Some good, some bad and some abysmal to your life and your success.
Noisy isn’t it?
But it’s the most important noise in your life!
Ultimately, the way you think and the thoughts that run through your mind are what determine your future. Not only that, but it is the biggest factor that will determine how fulfilled and happy you will feel as you go through life! Bad mindsets and bad thinking are major causes of unhappiness!
Many people are their own worst enemy because of their thinking.
So today I’m going to cover 3 ways in which our thinking tends to completely ruin our lives, and what to do instead. You’ll learn how to improve your thinking skills so that you can live happier and have a more positive attitude.
Table of Contents
Thinking About Past Memories
Some people live in their past…
Thinking about the past isn’t bad by definition, but the way in which we often do it is problematic. For multiple reasons, this can cause stress, frustration and so many negative emotions that you cannot fully enjoy the present. Additionally, they actually hurt your chances of success in the future.
Here’s where people often go wrong:
The first thing that we often tend to do is to think about the negatives more often than the positives. Instead of remembering our achievements and hard-fought victories, we tend to dwell on the negative things in our lives. The failures, the worst times, the hardships, and remember that 1 time you said something really awkward when you were fucking 19?
Something interesting also happens at a neurological level:
Besides thinking about the negative memories more often, we tend to relive negative past experiences in an associative state (looking through your own eyes) and positive ones in a dissociative state (3rd party spectator). In plain English: When thinking of negative experiences, you tend to relive them as if you were there, making the emotions feel so much more real in the present moment.
On the other hand, you don’t benefit as much from the positive emotions, since you paint yourself as a spectator in those memories.
The result is simply this:
Because of the way you’re reminiscing about the past, you hurt your ability to be happy and feel fulfilled in the present. It’s like you’re constantly walking around with a 50-pound backpack full of negative emotions. You’re only psyching yourself out more, hurting your confidence, and therefore hurting your performance. Thus strengthening the entire cycle!
It’s time to stop this!
How Much Does a Glass of Water Weigh?
I heard an interesting analogy about this the other day:
Let me just ask you the question. The glass of water that I’m holding in the picture on the left, how much do you think that that glass of water weighs?
500 grams? 600? To be honest, I have no clue what the concrete weight of this glass is, but that’s not important.
It’s all relative.
Here’s what I mean:
If I’m holding up this glass for a minute, it’s pretty light. However, if I hold it up for an hour, it becomes a lot heavier and my arm will start to ache. If I try to hold it up for an entire day, I’ll be in agonizing pain both physically in my arm as well as mentally in trying to keep holding the glass up. If I can even handle an entire day.
Now imagine holding the glass for weeks, or even months and years…
Of course, the glass is a metaphor and we have all been guilty at one point or another of holding up our metaphorical glasses of water for months or even years. And in case you’re wondering, the glass of water represents our fears, our frustrations, our bad memories and other negative emotions that we dwell on.
And it’s just like the glass of water:
If you think about these things for a little while, you’ll be perfectly fine. If you do it for longer periods, it will start to hurt, you’ll make yourself feel bad all over again. But for a lot of people, they are living in the past the entire time and causes them agonizing pain mentally, emotionally and physically. This kind of chronic stress is one of the main causes of depression.
Yes, that’s literally the impact that this kind of thinking can have on your life!
What to Do Instead?
So you may be thinking: “How do I stop thinking about bad memories?” Or “What can I do about these negative thoughts?”
It’s all about your focus.
As I’ve shared in the analogy above, it’s not bad to think about bad memories and experiences in the past. When you are having recurring negative thoughts, it’s may become a problem. When thinking of the past, your focus should be on learning and moving on. Take the 1 or 2 lessons that you can learn from this experience, take those to heart and let it go.
You can’t change it anyway, so why bother?
Direct your focus mainly on 2 things: the present so that you can enjoy it and your future so that you can build something even better than what you have today. The things you focus on have a huge impact in the way you experience life, but fortunately, it’s also one of the few things in life that you have full control over!
So use that control!
The second part thing you can do to stop dwelling on the past is to be conscious of when it happens. If you can, get yourself to make the shift towards how this negative thought has made you a better and stronger person. Or shift to something else entirely. Something positive of course.
And another final thing is this:
If you notice you’re reliving a memory, think about whether you’re looking through your own eyes or if you are an outsider looking at the event. If it’s the former, switch it around so that you’re an outsider looking objectively into the situation. And then notice how that changes how you feel.
Some other things you can do in your mind is to take that picture and put it further away from you in your mind, change it to black and white, or shrink the canvas that the picture is playing on to half its size. Do that and be aware of the shift in how you feel about it.
Try it and you’ll be fascinated how little tweaks like that actually change your feelings.
Comparing Yourself to Others
My god, this is such a huge issue for so many people!
Whenever I browse through Reddit or on other social media, I see so many people that actively destroy their own confidence and self-esteem by comparing themselves to others. It not only pains me to see that there are so many people out there that feel like this, it angers me as well!
First things first:
When we compare ourselves to others, pretty much everyone compares themself to those they think are doing better than them. And in doing so, you will have negative thoughts about yourself in relation to others. It’s overthinking in a bad way,
There is great power in realizing how lucky you are and how well you are off already! If you are reading this, it obviously means you have an internet connection. You could have been living somewhere in poverty without proper food and clean drinking water like hundreds of millions of people.
Gratitude is such an important skill to have!
I’ve read stories where people assume that pretty much everyone around them is better than them. It’s so sad to read that they seem unable to recognize their own achievements to the point where they put themselves down a ton!
But there is something else happening as well…
It’s pure fucking arrogance!
It sounds weird to be called arrogant when you put yourself down, but here’s why it is:
In almost all of these stories, they believe the other person is smarter, more confident, has achieved more, how they have everything together, etc. Who the fuck are you to make those assumptions about others without knowing them?
They may look confident or successful, but you have no idea at all what they have been through. You don’t know how they feel. You don’t know their story. You don’t see the effort they put into themselves either. You don’t know them, so who are you to assume things?
But here’s the kicker:
Pretty much everyone wants to be viewed positively by others, and their actions reflect that. People will always be quick to edify themselves, but won’t be as eager to talk about the struggles in their lives. However, when comparing yourself to others, most of the time you flat out ignore the problems they may have or the sheer amount of effort they put in.
That’s such an awful assumption!
It is that assumption that fucks up so many people while being wrong most of the time!
Think about social media for example:
You may see all these pictures from people who seem to be having the time of their lives and you wonder why it’s not you. What you don’t see or know is that they may be multiple pictures from 1 vacation posted throughout the year while they feel miserable the other 50 weeks of the year! People will try to keep up appearances so you will only see one side of the story, never the full one.
Think of it Like a Video Game
There’s another area in comparing where people go horribly wrong.
In some cases, it’s actually true that the other person is way better than you.
Think of it this way:
Let’s say you just started playing a new video game and just finished the tutorial. By complete accident, you stumble into a high-level area and you see this other player slaying dragons, seemingly effortlessly. Your first reaction might be “Wow, that’s so cool! I wish I could do that. They are so amazing, and I am not…”
And then you feel bummed out again.
The same thing happens so often in real life as well. Whether it’s people that are successful in business, on YouTube, in a sport or hobby, doing well in college, or any other area really, it’s all the same. You see the success, but what you may not see is the 10 years of failing business after business, practicing a skill 20 hours per week, the thousands of hours put into something, etc.
To use the video game example:
The veteran player will have put hundreds, if not thousands of hours into the game while you just got started. Of course they are better than you! They have so much more experience. The wish and desire to do what they do is the wrong fucking mentality! You’re comparing your level 3 to their level 96! Don’t focus on doing what they do, focus on getting to your level 4!
Back to real life.
We all have people we look up to.
So do I of course, but rather than comparing myself to them negatively, I look at the journey they have taken already. I’m looking at that path, the failures, the successes and the lessons they learned in order for me to take MY next step. There’s no need in comparing myself when they have had 10 more years of experience!
Of course they’ll be way ahead.
What to Do Instead
There are a few things you can do:
Firstly, stop making assumptions about how easy it is for others. Don’t assume that they have everything together. Don’t think that everything about them is perfect and so, don’t put others on a damn pedestal! Things may be hard for you and you have put in a lot of effort to get to where you are, but so have they!
Recognize a real gap.
When you’re looking at people who have done the thing you want to do for years already, don’t compare yourself to them! They have failed dozens more times than you have even tried! They are way ahead of you. But remember that does not make them better than you! They are just ahead of the clock and you can get to that level with practice as well.
And most importantly:
- Think others are smarter than you? Read more and watch more videos!
- Feel like you’re “the bad student”? Study harder!
- Feeling insecure? Dress nicer, hit the gym, lose weight, etc. Whatever makes you feel more confident.
- Jealous of people who can make friends with anyone? Learn about and practice to people.
- Feeling bad about your looks? Change things! There are always things you can do to improve!
Let’s avoid comparing yourself to others negatively and having negative thoughts about yourself. Instead, focus on competing with the person you were last year, last month and last week! Focus on continuously improving yourself so that you are feeling confident about where you’re at.
Because let’s face it:
In a lot of cases where you may feel insecure about yourself and part of the reason why you are having bad thoughts is that you lack certain skills or skills. Funnily enough, other people might also look at you in these situations and think that you are better than them as well. However, you need to reach that level where YOU feel confident and capable.
Looking to learn something new? Watch this:
Stop Thinking Bad Things Are Going to Happen
This is something I don’t understand at all to be honest.
There are many areas where we are overthinking, which is a bad thing of course. However, in reading a lot and seeing patterns, I have to ask myself the question: “Why do you (or many people at least) keep having negative thoughts about the future?
It’s something I don’t have myself at all.
Sure, I do fear or dread things in the future sometimes, but in general, I’m pretty optimistic and confident in my ability to make things work. And so it surprises me that when people seem to think about the worst-case scenarios way more often than they think about the best-case scenarios.
Take your bedroom for example.
A lot of people go to bed by thinking about the bills they have to pay, or some event coming up that they don’t want to go to. They think and worry about all of the negatives in their lives. And if you’re like that, it’s time to stop your negative thinking and shift to positive thoughts!
You don’t want your last thoughts of the day to be fear, dread and negativity!
You’ll go to bed feeling terrible, and wake up feeling terrible too!
But it isn’t just at night.
When we go into any kind of situation, whether it’s doing a presentation, going to a party, a new job, pretty much anything you fear, or just life in general, we tend to assume the worst. Other people thinking negatively about you, the meeting going horribly wrong, and things not working out.
Why would you do that upon yourself?
Partially there is the fear of the unknown, which is a real fear for many people. Perhaps it is that your unconscious wants to “protect” you from something it fears and so it projects the least desirable situation to you.
However, things almost never turn out nearly as bad!
What to do Instead
Here’s one of the best habits you can ever build:
Get yourself into the habit that whenever anything remotely negative happens, you come up with at least 1 positive thing or way in which you benefit. Force yourself to do that, no matter how bad things seem at first. This way you’ll train your mind to stop being so negative all the time and find positivity in your life!
As they say:
If you do that, your entire outlook on life will shift dramatically!
So, about those last thoughts before bedtime:
Instead of thinking of what you fear, actually use your most powerful weapon, your mind, to think of something extremely positive and exciting. Use your imagination to think about your goals and how it would look and feel to have achieved them. Put yourself in that situation and feel that excitement rushing through your veins.
Additionally, think of 1 or 2 things you can do tomorrow that put you closer to that goal.
Wake up with positivity as well as a battle plan for the day ahead of you!
And above all:
What to Do About Bad Mindsets and Thoughts
So there you have 3 negative attitudes and mindsets that a lot of people have.
There are more, but that’s something for another day.
The things that I want you to take from this article are simple:
Firstly, I want you to live in the present, not in the past (that’s over buddy). Definitely learn from your mistakes in the past, but don’t cling to these negative emotions and memories. Use them as a learning experience to level yourself up! Compete with who you were last week and aim to win that battle every week!
Fuck competing with other people!
And finally, have you ever experienced a situation where you assumed the worst and the worst actually happened? Maybe, maybe not. But then ask yourself if there have been cases where you assumed the worst and you were perfectly fine. And I can guarantee you that this is vast majority of cases!
Never assume the worst-case scenario and always look on the bright side of life!