One of the things many of us often take for granted is how changeable our thought patterns are. Itâ€™s easy for our thoughts to get stuck in ruts, and often those ruts are negative. â€œIâ€™m so fat,â€ â€œEveryone else is smarter than me,â€ â€œIâ€™m a crummy parent.â€ These sorts of thoughts can begin to feel automatic. But they donâ€™t have to be.
Just as we move and challenge our arms and legs when we try to get into good physical shape, we can also move and change our thoughts to improve our mental health. Choosing one thought to change at a time is a good place to start. Say, for example you want to change the thought â€œIâ€™m not as good as the people around me.â€ Try the following steps:
- Create an alternate thought to replace the old one. Something like: â€œMy life is just as important as everyone elseâ€™s.â€
- Each time the old, negative thought pops up, say (either out loud or to yourself) the new, more positive thought. This may be a bit time-consuming at first. You may find that you have to repeat the old thought over and over again. But donâ€™t give up, with time, the new thought will become more automatic.
- As you notice the old, negative thought decreasing in frequency over a period of time, pick a new thought to tackle. Repeat.