You might have passed by funhouse mirror and saw your image or reflection in the mirror become a thinner, taller, broader or shorter version of yourself? Mostly, these mirrors depend on variations of light to falsify the images reflected.
When you are stressed or anxious, your brain can quickly behave like the funhouse mirror and hence alter the reality in such a way that will convince you something not right.
In that case, mental distortions can lead to lots of problems since they can raise or even exacerbate symptoms of depression or anxiety. Additionally, stress or anxiety can influence you to act impulsively or reactively in ways that can affect your relationships with others and our thoughts as well.
What are these thinking habits?
Here are some examples of cognitive distortions that change our thinking habits
- Catastrophizing habit
There are times you expect a disaster and keep worrying, ‘what if this happens?’ every time I am clouded with uncertainty. So, you start panicking and anxious thinking only the worst will happen. Often, it can be a downward spiral of destructive thinking. An example, what if I fail my exam, and do not go to the college I want.
- I can’t habit
Most of the times, you can assume you are not capable of doing a particular challenge before you even try it. And so, it is possible to get sadness or anxiety.
- Zooming in on the harmful habit
Many are times when you will zoom all the embarrassing and negative experiences and forget the positive or neutral experiences. Meaning you blow out the positives and accumulate the negatives.
- All or nothing habit
It happens when you start seeing stuff in extremes. That is, things are either total failure or just perfect or something is all wrong or goes just right.
- Jumping to conclusions
You start to interpret everything negatively without seeking to know the facts first.
- I should; you should habit
The moment you hold others and yourself to rigid and unrealistic expectations. But, the moment the expectations are not met, you feel frustrated and disappointed. Example, “why did I miss the red flags he was showing. I suspected he was going to cheat on me.”
- Mind reading
You flood your mind with assumptions that someone is thinking negatively about you.
- Selective memory and attention
You realize you are paying more attention to information that confirms your beliefs, and you forget the other information that contradicts your beliefs.
- Emotional reasoning
Your belief or assumption that the nervous feelings you have to reflect just how the things are. An example could be, I feel thin; what everybody tells me is a lie.
How to change your thinking habits
- Change the way you think
You can challenge your negative thoughts from, for example, “I know I can never be selected to play for the team”, to “I know I train hard and am confident I will be selected.”
- Fact check
You may begin to ask yourself these questions, such as do I have evidence for these fears? Am I sure it is going to happen? Could there be other alternatives? What worst could happen? Can I manage it? Has this ever happened before? How did I handle it?
- Change your daily routine
You should be aware; your daily thoughts have a significant impact on your the decisions you make and eventually your success. If you want to reprogram you’re your thoughts, ten think first about transforming your habits.
An example would be, do things differently like wake up in the morning, and go to the gym then start your daily schedule. Through that, you will have a sense of accomplishment which will boost your confidence for the remaining part of the day.
Perform this task; list down your daily routine, let them be as detailed as possible. Finally, choose one habit you would like to add or replace.
- Make time for your priorities
Take time and think about what your thoughts are about daily. Also, when you want to change your thoughts, look at your day and try to list down how you spend your time.
If you realize you are not pleased with how you have allocated your activities, then make changes. Taking control of your calendar means taking control of your thoughts.
- Take time to travel
Getting out of town is not only a way to relieve yourself from daily stresses, but also, it is a way to transform behavior and perspectives. A study found that frequent travelers tend to be more stable and agreeable as a result of the many trips they make.
Since your habits, therefore, have a powerful impact on your thoughts, changing them is of importance.
A take task; plan a trip, it does not have to be expensive, something you can afford. That trip can transform your life in a significant way.
- Develop healthy sleep habits
Sleep on its own is therapy. Because, sleep will impact our happiness, thoughts and moods. If you get 8 hours of sleep daily, then you will also be productive at work. Getting fewer hours of sleep will risk anxiety and depression.
For you to change your thinking habits, therefore, your mind needs to be settled and energized to fight bad habits. It is only good sleep that can make you achieve that.
- Give yourself quiet time
You know well that we live in a noisy world. Because of open-air offices, streaming video services and smartphones. But we can always find quiet places. It is said if you want careful and constructive thinking, the look for a calm place.
Moreover, learn to meditate, walk in a quiet park alone; you will have all the time to have new thoughts and still reflect on what needs to be changed. You will realize the environment we live in has impact on our thoughts.
- Identify your most common thinking habits.
You can achieve this by having or keeping a journal. The journal will help you identify and remember all events that trigger your negative thinking habits.
How to practice mindfulness
For you to be able to change your thinking habits, be aware of your current thinking patterns. By being mindfulness, you can identify and acknowledge thinking patterns that you are already used to following. From there, you will decide if you will engage or disengage them.
Mindfulness, also gives you a chance to stay apart from your thoughts, giving you a chance to look at yourself as separate from your thoughts.
Indulge mindfulness in your evenings and morning routine and staying quiet for a couple of minutes. With time you will realize, you are sitting quietly for long. Therefore, when a thought crosses you, you will recognize instead of attaching yourself to it, redirect all your focus to your breath.
What steps to follow to make the change occur?
Step 1: Awareness
You should be aware that what you think about mostly so that when you are adjusting, it can fit your purpose as well as success. Meaning, you have to put aside all the negativity that is pulling you and your activities down.
In the end, change the patterns, establish new thinking habits and create more positive perceptual models.
Step 2: Practice
Imagine. You already created the habits and patterns you have over in many days or hours; you cannot alter them instantly. The same way it takes practice, commitment as well as perseverance in losing weight; you will also need the same if you want to lose your bad habits.
Step 3: Belief
Maybe you are skeptical. Look back at that time you were learning to ride a bike. Once you accomplished it, suddenly you believed you could. After attempting a few more times successfully, you grew confidence. Therefore, believe you can change your negative thoughts habits to positive ones.