Do you know that saying “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts”? I once read that saying ages ago and it totally resonated with me. If other people would tell us the things we tell ourselves sometimes, we’d most likely get very mad or stop talking to them at all. But then why is it that we allow our own thoughts to tell us that we’re ugly, dumb, awkward, failures, or fill it in. Fuel for thought, I say.
Moving back to the Netherlands from Perth after a break up and starting all over again in the complete sense of the word has imposed the enormous challenge on me to control my thoughts. While over thinking is something I’ve done for most of my life, I knew at the moment I set foot in the plane that would take me back to the Netherlands I really had to learn to control every single thought I thought, or otherwise it would have gotten the best of me. I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been where I am today, if I hadn’t learned how to make my own mind shut up, banish negative self-talk and learn to recognize whenever my mind is wandering off to that place of destruction. Not to say that I’m completely boss of everything I think right now, but I’ve most definitely come a long way.
So how does that work: controlling the thoughts you think? I personally think it all starts with teaching yourself to recognize when you’re doing it. This is of course different for everyone, but for myself I know my thoughts are heading in the wrong direction when I’m starting to fill in other people’s “thoughts” about me. Sometimes this concerns people that are close to me, sometimes people that I only know a little, or sometimes it considers people that I don’t even know. That would go something like this: “(insert name) probably thinks I’m dumb for doing this”, “…. Finds me stupid”, “…. Will look down on me”. I believe that many of the things we’re afraid other people think about us, is actually how we feel about ourselves. Wow, that’s an awkward sentence, I hope it makes sense…
When you’ve learnt to recognize when the negative self-talk tale begins, you can arm yourself. At moments like that, you can choose to tell yourself nice things instead. “I’m doing well, I’m successful, I’m kind, I’m worthy of….”. This might sound stupid but I believe it can really make a difference. When you train yourself to think good things about yourself, you’ll find that the negative voice in your head will start showing up less and less.
My biggest challenge when it comes to over thinking is my thoughts about the future. It’s easy to get scared and go over the “would have, should have, could have’s” and wonder how the decisions you’ve made will impact your future. What works best for me personally, is to just focus on how I can use the next 24 hours of my life to get me closer where I want to be or how I want to feel. Remembering this always helps me to make the decisions that will benefit me most in the long run.
OK, so that was enough deep talk for today. What are your best methods for banishing over thinking and negative self-talk? Do you recognize yourself in anything I wrote?