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In my opinion, mindset is one of the most important aspects of personal growth. Changing your mindset from negative to positive can be a challenge, but I believe it is one of the most important changes you will make in your life. If you have been struggling with your mindset, this list will help you ditch some common negative thought patterns and start improving your mindset.
So lets jump in!
1 | Always Assuming the Worst
We have all done it at some point. We let fear take over and start thinking about the worst case scenario. Maybe we want to step out of our comfort zone and take a class or start our own small business. But the fear of “what if” creeps in. What if I fail? What if I embarrass myself? What if People judge me? Instead of thinking of all the positives, we focus on the worst case scenario and end up not pursuing something that we may have loved.
Saying things like “bad things always happen to me”, or “I have the worst luck” makes us dwell on the bad things or unfortunate situations in our life and really blocks us from focusing on the good.
What to do instead: Think about the positives or best case scenarios instead. We are so quick to dwell on the possible negatives, but watch what happens when we start to obsess over all the positives that can happen! Start assuming the BEST case scenario and watch how much more motivated you are to try new things or get out of your comfort zone.
2 | Comparing Yourself to Others in a Negative Way
In the age of Social Media, sadly this is the new normal. We have all been guilty of comparing ourselves to others in a negative way and then dealing with the negativity spiral that comes with that. It is easy to recognize all the amazing things others around you are doing, but why is it so hard to recognize all the positives about ourselves? Whether it is appearance, career goals, relationship goals, or any other thing, we need to remember that one person’s success does not subtract from our own.
What to do instead: Look for learning opportunities or recognize what you find positive about a person. Use those traits as motivators in your own self improvement. Also remember that one person’s success or beauty does not take away from your own. You are awesome and beautiful all on your own. But, self-improvement is a lifelong journey and if you like something about a person, whether it be their success, personality traits, or physical appearance, use that as a motivator and reflect on how you can achieve those aspects in your own life.
Another great tip is to use daily affirmations or to practice gratitude. Remind yourself regularly of how great you are or of all the things you have to be thankful for and you will start to see a shift in the way you look at others. You will stop comparing or judging, and instead focus on yourself and your own personal growth journey.
3 | Blaming Others For Your Problems or Mistakes
Often times when something goes wrong in our life or we make a mistake, we are quick to put the blame on something or someone other than ourselves. Rather than owning up or taking responsibility for our actions, we often deflect and blame.
For example, I am terrible at being on time, and I am late for work almost every day. I was always quick to blame traffic, or the slow line at the coffee shop, when in reality it was my fault. I was leaving to late and not giving myself enough time. This is a minor example, but once I was able to stop blaming others and take responsibility, I was able to find the solution.
If we continue to blame other people for the problems in our life, we will never ever look for a solution to the problem. I think it can be a bit of a cycle, because if we don’t own up to mistakes or problems being our own fault, than we do not need to look for a solution. Blaming others gives us the excuse we need to avoid having to change or look for a solution.
What to do instead: Self Reflect and take responsibility for your own actions and/or mistakes. Once you do that you can begin to look for ways to learn and grow from your actions or find solutions to improve the situation or yourself personally. Once we accept things are in our own control, we can work towards making them better and stop dwelling on the negatives.
4 | Making Excuses
This kind of ties into my “blaming others” point above, but there are lots of other ways we make excuses in our daily lives. Making excuses keeps us in the negative thought pattern in many ways. Excuses allow us to stay the same and never change our situation, self, or other factors that are contributing to our negative thought patterns.
The definition of excuse is: a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.
Basically you are justifying WHY. I never exercise because I have no time. I stay at a job I hate because I need the money. I can’t go back to school to take the program I want to take because the timing isn’t right. Excuses allow us to justify our decisions and prevent us from changing. They keep us trapped in our negative thought patterns and prevent us from growth.
What to do instead: Start looking for times when you make excuses. Maybe you were planning to get up early to exercise but when your alarm went off at 6 AM you thought of 5 excuses why you could skip the early morning exercise. When you start paying attention you start catching yourself making these excuses and it is easier to stop doing it. Also, know and remember your “Why”. When you attach a reason WHY you want to achieve something, you are less likely to make excuses. Sure, I don’t really want to get up early to exercise, and if I look at the small picture, it is easy to make excuses that convince me not to get up. BUT, if I focus on my big picture and remember my WHY, I can usually overcome my excuses. I don’t want to get up at 5AM, but I do want to feel healthy and comfortable in my own skin. And long term, I want to be a healthy role model for my child and show them that exercise and wellness is important. Reminding myself of those things gives me the push I need to overcome my excuses.
You may also enjoy: How to Be Happier: 10 Habits You Need to Quit to Live a Happier Life
5 | Putting Yourself Down
Constantly putting yourself down or dwelling on imperfections instantly puts you into a negative thought pattern. Why are we so hard on ourselves? We constantly compare to others. We listen to that nasty little voice in our heads telling us we aren’t good enough, and we let ourselves believe it.
What to do instead: Start using positive affirmations and change that little voice in your head from a nasty little b**** to your biggest motivator! I know positive affirmations should a bit silly, and it isn’t always easy to say nice things to ourselves, but if you get in the habit of saying nice things to yourself everyday, I promise you will start to believe it!
6 | Fearing Failure
This is one of the worst negative thought patterns for many people. We get so caught up in the “what if I fail” that we never pursue our passions or try new things. Sometimes it even goes as far as sacrificing really important things (our health, our happiness) because we would rather not try than try and end up looking like a failure when it doesn’t go how we imagined. Take wanting to lose weight as an example. I would love to lose some weight (potentially get back to my pre-baby weight), but I have tried so many times to get into a routine of exercise and eating better, and ultimately failing every time that I got to a point where it was easier mentally to stop trying. But the thing is, I just didn’t feel healthy! I wanted to feel better in my own skin again. So I changed my mindset and I realized that if I missed a day of exercise, or I had a day where I ate terribly, I didn’t FAIL, I just had a bad day. The possibility of good outcomes outweighed the idea of failure. And so now, while I still struggle, I don’t quit! I know I can’t fail if I just keep trying. The key is not to quit!
What to do instead: The first step is really tackling your mindset! Really focusing on the positives that may come out of trying something new or chasing a goal. Once you convince yourself it’s worth the risk the next step is not to quit! Even if you have a hurdle or you fall flat on your face, you cannot FAIL if you keep getting up and trying again! Learn from those obstacles, and keep going! I don’t think trying something new or pursuing a goal is ever a failure. Even if you try and realize it just is not for you, you tried, and now you have learned something about yourself in the process. Pushing yourself is never a failure even when it doesn’t go as planned. When we realize that, we stop fearing failure and start embracing the learning’s that we are receiving instead!
You may also enjoy: 8 Simple Tips for Improving Your Self Confidence
7 | Dwelling on the Past
We all do it. We focus on something that happened in our past and ask ourselves that age old question “What if?”. What if I did that differently, what if I never dated so and so, what if I traveled instead of going to University? I am here to tell you you can ask all day long, but what it comes down to is this: IT DOES NOT MATTER. The past is in the past and there is NOTHING you can do about it now. What you can do is focus on the present and the future.
Acknowledge why you are dwelling on something from the past, pull out what you can learn from the specific experience, and then let it go. Include an affirmation into your daily morning routine that states “I am not defined by my past decisions, I have learned from my past experiences and now I choose to move forward”.
8 | Worrying About Things Out of Your Control
Similar to dwelling on the past, worrying about things out of our control can really pull us into a negative and anxious mindset. I know I struggle with this personally, but I have definitely started to catch myself and remind myself that if it is out of my bubble of control, I need to let it go.
Worrying about things will not change the outcome or end result. You can worry about the weather for an upcoming weekend beach trip as much as you want, but ultimately the weather is going to do whatever the heck it wants. The only thing you can do is prepare and adapt as needed. When we start to let go of those things that are out of our control, we learn to be a bit more “go with the flow” and I think our mindset and sense of calm becomes much better as well.
What to do instead: Plan accordingly. If you are worried about things going wrong, such as the weather ruining a vacation, have a plan in place just in case it does rain. Also, remember that all you can do is prepare for what you can, and then you have to let it go. Create a saying or a phrase to help yourself release control. Something along the lines of this is out of my control. Worrying about this will not change the outcome. I choose to focus on the aspects that I can control, and let go of the aspects that are out of my control”. Simply saying this out loud to yourself when you are feeling anxious is a helpful reminder to ground you and avoid falling into that negative thought pattern.
So there you have it. I hope these tips for overcoming these 8 common negative thought patterns help you to start improving and working towards a more positive mindset.