Life is full of ups and downs, challenges and difficulties, some major and some minor. Trying to navigate them—alongside all our other everyday commitments—means that we often spend a lot of time on autopilot: “I’ve got to get to that meeting, finish that project, pick up the kids, then make dinner.” When this happens, we get caught up in an endless cycle of to-dos and become completely unaware of all the little things the voice in our head is telling us! Being disconnected from our thought processes can start to breed negative thinking: “You’re going to be late for the meeting and everyone will think you’re unprofessional!” The problem is, we often take these negative thoughts as truth, without questioning them.
It’s human nature: most of us tend to catastrophize situations and take things far more seriously than they need to be taken. For example, 99% of the time, being late to a meeting isn’t going to cost you your job or the respect of your colleagues, even though it may feel that way. The truth, however, is that we can consciously control these negative thoughts and reframe them in a positive light. It’s a constant practice of stepping back and taking the time to listen to our thoughts, then shifting them to the positive.
A great exercise I learned is to actually write down any negative thoughts when you become aware of them. By seeing them on paper, you can question where they come from and whether they’re actually true. Practice writing down your thoughts once a day for a week and you may start to see a pattern—that you have a fear of being perceived as a failure or that a comment a former co-worker made about you has really stuck with you. By getting to the root of these thoughts, you can start to reframe them into positives. For example, instead of thinking “I can’t believe I forgot to pay for my son’s swim lessons. I’m such a disaster!” Take a step back and assess the reality of the situation. Yes, maybe you slipped up and forgot something, but that happens to the best of us. And making a mistake does not make you a disaster. Try to separate the behavior from the person. Now reframe as “I forgot to pay for those swim lessons because I have so much going on. I’m trying my best but should see if I can cut back on anything so I don’t get overwhelmed.” Turn negative self-thinking into a plan of action.
Tuning in to your own patterns of thinking is one of the first steps towards trusting yourself and setting the foundation for a truly mindful life. Try the quick exercise today and see how you can shift your thinking for the better!
Kate’s Take is a recurring monthly blog series with Fabletics Co-Founder Kate Hudson. Check back every month for Kate’s thoughts on a brand new topic!