Our thoughts are part of our mental health, and the way we approach things can decrease our happiness. Psych Central discusses nine common ways we negatively impact our mental health.
Explore these nine habits below, and identify which ones you are guilty of and if you can minimize them to increase your happiness.
- Not forgiving others
It can be difficult to forgive when we have been hurt, but not forgiving someone is often more harmful to ourselves than to them. Thus, forgiveness is not just for them, it is for you. By forgiving someone, you are relinquishing the power they have over you through the hurt they caused you.
This does not mean they did not wrong you, nor does it excuse their actions. It simply means that you are ready to move on from the pain they have caused you. It means you are ready to free your body and mind of what happened.
- Not forgiving yourself
Since we are our own worst critics, we are often more likely to blame ourselves for something, and less likely to forgive ourselves for it. Most of us have something that lingers over us for years – a situation that made us feel regret, ashamed, or embarrassed. This can cause negativity, stress, and pessimism to fester, and affect our worldview.
If you are having a difficult time forgiving yourself, try to accept your feelings instead of trying to logic your way out of them. Recognize that you are feeling bad, and then mindfully decide to that you are going to put those feelings away and focus on whatever task you have at hand.
- All-or-none thinking
Seeing everything as black and white, all or nothing, one or the other, we do not allow any aspect of our lives to exist in the gray area. This type of thinking is extremely common in cases of poor mental health.
The all-or-nothing thought process is rigid, and automatically forces us to look at what is going wrong instead of what is going right. It also causes us to see the worst in people, instead of seeing the good.
Challenge this way of thinking by asking yourself if you prefer things that exist in a duality, or if you are comfortable with shades of gray. When something unfortunate occurs, try to find the good and bad in the situation.
- Holding others to a higher standard than you hold yourself
Sometimes our friends disappoint us, or the people in our daily lives upset us. Some days that is just because they, too, are human. Others, they really might not be treating you how you deserve to be treated, or that you are not surrounding yourself with good people. However, it is just as likely that you have set unreasonable standards for the people around you – standards that you do not apply to yourself.
If you find yourself consistently frustrated with someone, or with a particular quality, ask yourself why it upsets you so much and whether or not you are looking at the situation fairly. When you find yourself being overly harsh, think of a mistake you made, how it looked to others, and how you wish people had responded to it. This thought process will make you more empathetic, and less stressed.
- Believing things will never get better
Pessimism and hopelessness are tough monsters to fight. Chronically feeling this type of cynicism can lead to depression and even suicide.
This might sound too drastic, but mild versions of pessimism can impact your daily life and relationships. Thinking things like you will never pay your loads, or that your sister will never get her act together, will manifest into how you navigate your life.
Remind yourself that the good comes with the bad, and that hard times are always followed by better ones.
- Believing you have less control over your life than you really do
When we feel like we do not have control over something, or that we are helpless, we are less likely to try to make any positive actions.
Often, we have far more control than we think we do. When you feel out of control, try to take a few small steps to improve the situation. Usually, a positive outlook is the most effective first step.
- Believing the myth of arrival
Many of us are waiting for a certain point in our lives when we have “arrived.” We hope for a time when everything falls into place and you can begin to live how you have always wanted to. This belief has the potential to be damaging, because it often sets us up for disappointment.
By waiting to get a promotion, or lose 20 pounds, or have kids, we are giving power to external situations that keep us from focusing on the present, or on our internal selves.
Overgeneralizing is a common cognitive error for people with depression. This thought process often causes someone to run away with their thoughts and to make a mountain out of a molehill. It is often connected to other negative thinking patterns as well.
By overgeneralizing situations, the world, and ourselves, we are not allowing ourselves to see the world in all its dynamics, facets, and colors.
- Not practicing gratitude
It is easy to get frustrated with situations and not see the good in them, or in other things going on around us. Being thankful reminds us of the good surrounding us – our friends, family, health, beautiful weather, etc. Find something to be grateful for every day, and see how it positively impacts your life. You will find yourself less negative and stressed in no time.