Toxic thoughts have an incredibly negative impact on our wellbeing. These negative thoughts and emotions drain us physically and emotionally, and take the joy out of otherwise enjoyable experiences. If we allow toxic thoughts to infiltrate our way of thinking we're left bitter, pessimistic and quite a challenge for others to be around.
Eliminating negativity from your thought process doesn't just significantly increase your level of happiness, it also gives you the chance to enjoy life's experiences with far more passion and enthusiasm.
Here are a few common toxic thoughts, why they're not good for us and how to go about changing them:
I'm not good enough
We all have moments where we feel like we are not good enough but allowing ourselves to give in to this thought that we truly aren't enough leaves us with a lack of self-worth. By believing this toxic thought we stop valuing ourselves and don't treat ourselves with the respect we deserve. This can lead to irresponsible behaviour, poor decision making and unhealthy relationships.
To banish this toxic thought, we first must realise that there is always going to be someone who is stronger, faster, thinner, funnier, more successful, more attractive or has better grades than you. But other people's good qualities don't detract from your own. Their strengths don't make you any less valuable so let go of the comparison mindset and stop judging yourself so harshly.
I hate my body
Even the most physically attractive people can struggle with this toxic thought. No matter your size, shape or colour, none of us are immune to feeling as though we hate our body. Particularly now, in the age of filters and unnaturally flawless photos floating around social media, the pressure for us to look perfect is at an all time high.
The consequences of this toxic thought can be truly disastrous. Eating disorders, dangerous diets, steroid usage, unhealthy eating habits and depression can stem from a deep unhappiness with one's own body. When disgusted by our body we are far more likely to take drastic actions which can lead to serious short or long term health complications so this is one toxic thought you need to kick to the curb as soon as you can.
Learning to accept your body, flaws and all isn't easy. It takes time, commitment and an awful lot of self-love. Start by focusing on the parts of your body that you are most proud of rather than the things you want to change. If you've got killer legs, flaunt them. A smile to die for? Then do more smiling!
Make it a habit to look in the mirror on a regular basis and compliment yourself. Make a mental note of the things that you like about your body and remind yourself of how lucky you are to wake up each day to a body that functions when many aren't so lucky.
If there are things you are unhappy about that you can change such as losing weight, building muscle or putting on more weight, then go ahead and do it. The two key things to remember is that change takes time and you can still love yourself while you're on that journey of improvement. Don't expect the effects to be instantaneous. So long as you're making positive lifestyle changes and you're heading in the direction that you want to, you are doing great. If you choose to love and accept yourself during this transition, you'll find that you're making changes because you want to do right by your body, not because you're disgusted by it. This helps you to maintain motivation and makes long term lifestyle changes far easier to stick to. Stay on that path and you'll get to where you want to be soon enough.
I'm not happy in my job
We spend so many hours at work each week, so being unhappy with your job impacts every part of your life. You bring your dissatisfaction home with you and before long you start seeing how it negatively impacts your relationships, family life and overall happiness.
As with any toxic thought, we have two choices - focus on the positives and learn to love it, or change it.
If you're stuck in a career or workplace that you're really unhappy with, then make changes. Actively seek out new job opportunities in your field or take the steps that you need to to move into a brand new career that really interests you. It's never too late to try something new!
If it's not possible to leave or changing your employment isn't something you want to do, then learning to feel content in your job is your number one priority. Make a mental note of the things you do enjoy about your job. Perhaps you really enjoy the team you work in, you love interacting with clients or you love the opportunities you get at work to solve problems. Focus on whatever it is that you really enjoy and stop giving so much of your attention to the negative aspects of the job.
Maintaining your own wellbeing is vital in ensuring your work day is pleasurable so schedule in some time for mindfulness each morning before work, listen to your favourite music during the commute, take a walk outside during your lunch break and make a conscious effort to leave your work at work as you head home for the day.
I'll always be alone
This toxic thought commonly infiltrates the mind's of single people everywhere. We look around and it feels as though everyone has someone but us. We take it as a sign that for some reason we aren't worthy of love and we're destined to be alone forever. What we don't realise is that this exact thought can be doing more harm than good to us in our search for love.
If we don't believe we are worth loving then you can bet your bottom dollar that others aren't going to think we' are worth loving either.
We've all heard the saying "you can't love someone else before you've learned to love yourself", and the same goes for our self-worth. If we don't value ourselves we are indirectly telling others not to value us too and we will struggle to see the true value of the person standing in front of us. This causes us to blow chances with ideal partners and fall into unhealthy relationships with those who are not a good match for us.
If we're too busy wallowing in self-pity, we're going to miss out on opportunities with people who might otherwise be our perfect match.
No one likes to be around pessimists. They are a drain on us emotionally and continuously bring our mood down. If you're hell bent on focusing on how alone and unhappy you are, then you're going to find less and less good people surrounding you.
When we are fixated on how lonely we are, we unknowingly let off the dreaded stench of desperation.
Potential matches will run for the hill if they think you're more interested in filling the empty space in your bed, than you are in them. People want to be valued, appreciated and genuinely cared for in a relationship, they don't want to be there purely to fill a void.
So how do you prevent yourself from feeling deflated and lonely when you are alone? Simple. You learn to enjoy your own company. Learn to love the freedom that comes with being alone, make your life one that makes you excited to get up in the morning, and soon enough those feelings of loneliness and despair will be a distant memory. When you take back control of your life and build an existence that fulfils you, you'll start to attract the right kind of people. And you never know, you may just stumble across your forever person!
Nobody cares about me
Believing that no one cares is one of the worst things you can tell yourself. It has a damning effect on your self-worth and during the depths of depression, it can take you down the dangerous path where you think there's nothing worth living for.
The truth is - you're wrong, so wrong in fact that you couldn't be more wrong. There are people in your life who do care a lot, but they may not have the time or capacity to show you in the ways or as frequently as you'd like. That doesn't take away from how much they care about you, and they really do.
I learned recently about the importance of fulfilling our own needs rather than looking to others for validation. I used to go through life with a need for the people close to me to continuously validate me and if they didn't, I believed that they didn't care. I expected them to express their care for me in the same way I do for them, but they didn't ,so I came to the conclusion that they just didn't care at all. I was wrong. Life got in the way, work got in the way, their own struggles got in the way, and they didn't realise I was feeling as though I was not important because after all, they aren't mind readers.
I learned to look at how others express their care, rather than expect them to show it the same way I do, and I learned to validate myself and take care of me. It was kind of groundbreaking in that I could finally shake this nagging need for reassurance and felt comfortable in the fact that those who are in my life are in my life for a reason, because they care.
If this thought keeps popping into your head it's time to start looking within to find your sense of contentment. Begin to appreciate the different ways those in your life show their care for you and stop putting your own expectations onto them. And if you're still struggling to feel as though you're cared about, reach out to the people in your life and tell them how you feel. Chances are you'll be met with all the reasons why they appreciate you and how much they do care.
I'll never be successful
Not with that attitude, you won't! Success is a state of mind so if this toxic thought is whirring around your head, there's a good chance you won't succeed in whatever it is you're striving to achieve. By telling ourselves that we will never succeed, we are sealing our fate and we're sure to fail.
Eliminating this toxic thought it as simple as erasing 'never' from your vocabulary. Instead of telling yourself you'll never be a successful designer, tell yourself you WILL be a successful designer. Tell yourself "you will", "you can" and "you are" every day and soon enough you'll believe it. Once you believe in your abilities, you'll be unstoppable!
I don't have enough
Constantly telling yourself you don't have enough money, friends, skills, talents or abilities does nothing to help the situation, it only lowers your mood and robs you of happiness.
It's important to master the art of being content with what you have. This doesn't mean you should stop striving for more of what you need or want, it means appreciating what you've got right now. Stop comparing your situation to other people's and accept that happiness is something you can have right now, it doesn't have to wait until you get more of the things you need.
Perhaps the most damaging of all is the toxic belief that you can't. There are very few things in this world that aren't achievable if we set our mind to it, persevere and work hard, so more often than not the only thing holding you back is your own belief that you can't.
To eradicate this toxic thought, all you need is a little logic. Every time you think you can't do something, take a moment to give yourself a reality check. What are the reasons for you to think that you can't? Are they realistic reasons or are you merely making excuses as to why you shouldn't try? If you're just making excuses then it's time to start turning "I can't" into "I can".
Listening to the things that we tell ourselves is so important. Far too often we are the only ones getting in the way of us achieving our goals, and the reason for this is we unintentionally fill our heads with negativity, self-doubt and pessimism. When we start to change these unhealthy thoughts into more positive ones, we see our life through a whole other lens and the impossible becomes possible.