Emotional Wellbeing

Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

How your thinking holds you back

When life throws us a curve ball, it’s normal to feel fed up and/or annoyed. Have you ever wondered though how your thinking holds you back? We often think that it’s life events around us that hold us back but this isn’t entirely true. Sure, we all have bad stuff happen. We get ill, we have stress at work, unhappy realtionships and many other challenges to deal with. Where we get to have some influence is in how we react to the bad stuff.

When we experience negative events, we can often feel like a victim and give away our power by blaming others and/or external events. We have a lot more choice than we think. We may not be able to control the world around us but we can certainly control what we want to think about what is happening and how we want to react.

Our thinking can make life on earth heaven or hell, depending on how we perceive things. When something bad happens, we can choose to wallow in self pity and subsequent unhelpful behaviours or we can choose to maintain a more hopeful focus. I have had times when something has upset me and I have responded in a way that just made the situation worse. Thoughts like “Why me?” or “Why is life so unfair?” This type of thinking didn’t help at all. I began to be more aware of what the content of my thoughts were and tried harder to focus on thinking that was more problem solving and focused on empowering me.

Thoughts create emotion and these emotions determine our behaviour. If our think as awry, we will experience negative emotions and unhelpful negative orientated behaviour.

Instead of wallowing, it’s important to remember what we can and can’t control. It’s also important to challenge our thinking when it is negative and self defeating. Ask yourself how it is helping you to think in this way. it isn’t.

You can train yourself to think in ways that work for you. To look for the evidence of your thinking and to consider alternative ways of thinking about a situation. There will ALWAYS be another way to look at a situation.

For example: “My life is awful and nothing good ever happens”. If you look at this statement, it can;t be true that nothing good ever happens. There will always be some good in life. Focus on that. If you feel your life is awful, problem solve around this. Consider ways to improve your life. Brain storm and write possible solutions down and then act on them.

You don’t have to passively accept your automatic negative thoughts. Like the self critical thoughts that tell you that you aren’t good enough. Challenge that. What is good enough anyway? Why focus on your weaknesses? Focus on your strengths and remind yourself that no one is perfect.

We are all capable of changing our ‘thought landscape’in our minds. It takes awareness and an ability to reframe our thoughts to ones that serve us and that don’t sabotage us.

Mandy X