The Thought Patterns Ruining My Life

We are not our thoughts. But we are the thoughts we allow to control our lives. And the thoughts we indulge are the thoughts that create ruts in our minds and eventually become thought patterns. Here are my thought patterns and the ways in which they are ruining my life:

Worrying About the Future

I constantly “borrow trouble”. I worry about what the future holds, including those things I don’t have control over. I worry about things that haven’t happened yet and even about negative outcomes that are unlikely to occur. I build them up so much in my mind that I become sure they are going to happen. If anything close to what I fear does end up happening, I see it as a sign that my worry was justified.

Grieving the Past

I go over and over the past, including mistakes I made and mistakes others made that negatively affected me. I dwell on missed and bungled opportunities. I mentally recreate dialogues from years, even decades, past. I yearn for the more positive, alternative outcomes that could have come to fruition “if only…”. I beat myself up for how I used to think, feel, and behave, even though I was younger, less worldly-wise, and hadn’t had many experiences yet. I remember and obsess over dates I find significant (for example, “In the year 2002, this happened” or “May 5, 2008 was the day that…”). I’ve never learned how to “let go”.

Assuming People’s Motivations

I often assume people have malicious motivations towards me which explain their actions. Instead of assuming they are just busy or forgetful or ditzy, I assume they dislike me, maybe even want to harm me, and that is why they do the things they do or don’t do the things they don’t do. I am the guiltiest person when it comes to black-and-white thinking, and this type of thinking does not lend itself well to being able to see context or nuance in any given situation. I have been hurt and disappointed by so many people, I now suspect everyone of malintentions. I feel enraged over the thought that others would mistreat me when I would never mistreat them. Others’ mistreatment of me evokes obsessive thoughts over the matter, which I often whitewash as righteous anger. It is easier for me to claim the moral high ground instead of admitting I mentally and emotionally hold onto these hurts to an extent that is not warranted and that is actually self-destructive.

Trying to Please Others

I constantly try to please others and “fit in”, even when I don’t immediately realize I’m doing so. For example, sometimes I respond in a politically-correct, socially-acceptable way that doesn’t covey my true feelings. This comes to me very naturally and without forethought. Only afterwards do I realize how I compromised myself. It seems although I generally dislike people, I secretly crave their acceptance. This causes me to feel weak and become irritated with myself.

Internalizing What Others Do to Me

I take what others do to me as a measure of my own worth. Instead of thinking of them less, I think of myself less. Even if I get upset with them, it pales in comparison to the way their actions make me feel about myself. In reality, the way someone treats another person reveals more about themselves than the other person. And when a person treats others poorly it’s often a sign they think of themselves poorly.

Trying to Control Things

I try to control my feelings, circumstances, and environment. These are things that are impossible to control. Feelings arise uninvited, but they are generally based on the thoughts I allow to take up space in my mind. Environment can only be controlled to a certain extent, and circumstances often occur unbidden, unplanned, and unwanted. I know that the most peaceful people are those who can “roll with the punches”, let things “roll off their backs”, and successfully adapt instead of trying to mould situations to fit their desires.

Dreaming of the Future

On the face of it, dreaming of the future doesn’t sound like a negative thought pattern. What could be unhealthful about having goals, being excited for what’s to come, and allowing it to lift my mood? While these things aren’t inherently problematic, spending my time dreaming of what “could be” instead of taking the necessary actions to make it a reality only traps me in a sad, unfulfilling present with a false sense of achievement.

Striving for Perfection

Fear leads me to always strive for perfection. I can’t stand making mistakes. I can barely bring myself to read my past blog posts for fear I realize how awful they all are and delete them. I often don’t start something I really should for fear of not doing it perfectly. Past failures, even from very long ago, continue to haunt me. However, the logical side of me knows that progress can be made alongside failures and that those who don’t try, don’t succeed.

Being Overly Sensitive to Injustice

This is another thought pattern that might not sound unhealthful. However, my sense of justice often clouds my better judgment. I end up struggling too long towards a goal I don’t even want due to feeling I deserve it. Realistically, I know that’s my ego sabotaging my peace and contentment as well as my refusal to move past negativity and to accept myself in whatever situation I find myself.

Have you noticed any thought patterns that steal your happiness away? Have you been working on changing which thoughts you focus on in order to change those patterns and find lasting peace?

Ten Thoughts You Need to Immediately Stop Entertaining

These are ten thoughts you need to immediately stop thinking if you want to feel peace and lightness and be successful in life.

1. Stop assuming you know what other people are thinking. Don’t assume you know or understand what’s in their heads. Ask them. Communicate. Be assertive. Don’t assume you can know what’s in someone else’s head without asking them.

2. Stop assuming things will go wrong. Don’t have a defeatist attitude. Don’t turn your destiny into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Think positively, prepare thoroughly, and don’t make yourself miserable thinking of what could go wrong.

3. Stop worrying about pleasing other people. Be respectful and courteous, but follow your own bliss. Live for yourself. Those who are meant to be in your life will not expect you to be miserable for them.

4. Stop focusing on the negative instead of the positive. A lot of things in life suck, but life is also beautiful! Pursue the beautiful and minimize or ignore the “suck” where and when you can.

5. Stop believing your thoughts and emotions reflect the truth. Your thoughts and emotions can change by the second and are impermanent. They’re not reliable. Don’t dwell on them.

6. Stop taking things personally. Most people aren’t trying to hurt you. Many people don’t even think about you at all. And most of the time it simply doesn’t matter what they think, anyway. There’s probably not a massive conspiracy against you.

7. Stop trying to control everything. Life comes at you fast. It can be unpredictable and shocking. Hang on for the ride and be flexible. It’ll hurt less every time it crashes. And those who adapt are those who persevere.

8. Stop thinking you’re always right. You’ll be surprised how much you don’t know, how many other perspectives there are, how many illegitimate thoughts you allowed to sway your emotions and your actions.

9. Stop comparing your situation to other people’s. Other people have different upbringings, histories, frames of reference, and circumstances. No two people have the exact same advantages and disadvantages in life. Do the best you can with the cards you’re dealt.

10. Stop being hard on yourself. Talk to yourself kindly. Encourage yourself. Uplift yourself. Never stop trying to do good for yourself every day. If you screw up, start over.

I try to apply these tips every day to my thought life. I fail often; however, I do believe following them will lead to a happy, less stressful life.