I’ve never been good at anything.
I recently read something that made me grossly aware of how our own minds can play tricks on us. It’s a good reminder from time to time, since we walk about solid as gold, certain of our opinions, our story, how people and the world really are.
The article in the Atlantic was about why many of us end up making the same mistakes over and over. The study linked shows that when you recall past mistakes, you’re more likely to commit them again [in this case, splurging].
It’s how you perceive yourself in that instant and extend the same idea across time – as a failure.
Put this together with a piece I recently wrote about confirmation bias and you’re stuck in a vicious cycle:
Make a mistake, label yourself a failure, confirm the notion by recalling all the other times you failed and make the mistake again.
We spoke to Mary John, a practicing therapist in Dubai, who suggests:
Challenging negative thoughts, experimenting with your perceptions, and practicing new skills.
Think of how many times your brain is unable to retrieve contradicting information because of your pre-existing mood. In simpler terms, think of how you weren’t able to see your brilliant feedback in University when you received rejection letter after rejection letters from employers.
It happens to all of us.
Mary John says
We all should learn techniques by which we can calm down, by distinguishing between errors in our thinking (what you tell yourself) and what’s actually going on out there in the world. Planning a realistic course of action by gathering relevant facts, drawing sensible conclusions and assessing your plan’s effectiveness. We always think negatively when things go wrong, so we need to learn to correct our errors in thinking.
A great technique is to write down your thoughts. If you’re thinking negative about a situate, first record your negative thought, then systematically challenge the though by writing a counter-argument, followed by a related positive thought. Over time, you’ll see that your thoughts are not always as solid as you’d believed.
In my experience, meditating, resisting getting caught in your thought patterns, and coming back to the present moment makes all the difference.
Don’t believe everything you think.
It’s okay if you’re feeling down. You’re no longer engaging with your negative thoughts and watching them float by. That experience can be liberating – it was for me. I like this app.
It may be hard to see this when you’re stuck in a frenzy, but here’s some doctor-recommended advice that helped me through a period of extreme anxiety:
The best technique is to take deep breaths – especially when we think the worst is going to happen. How you think is important, not what you think.
This isn’t simple advice. Anxiety and swells of panic typically come with shallow breathing. By taking deep breaths, you’re supplying oxygen to the brain, finding ground, and can think clearly.
If you’re having trouble with anxiety, negative thinking, depression or know anyone in need of help, share this piece with them. Dr. Mary John is available for consultation in Dubai – You can e-mail her here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you think this was helpful? Tell us in the comments below.
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