It’s easy to fall into negative thinking patterns and spend time bullying yourself, dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future. It’s part of how we’re wired—the human brain reacts more intensely to negative events than to positives ones and is more likely to remember insults than praise.
During tough times, negative thoughts are especially likely to spiral out of control. When these thoughts make something out to be worse in your head than it is in reality, they are often called “thinking traps”.
What is a Thinking Trap?
Thinking traps are cognitive distortions—exaggerated or irrational negative thought patterns that can lead us to believe things that aren’t necessarily true.
How to Get Out of a Thinking Trap
Think of a different way to view the situation.
If your negative thought is “I can’t do anything right,” a kinder way to reframe it is, “I messed up, but nobody’s perfect.”
Or a more constructive thought is, “I messed up, but now I know to prepare more for next time.”
It can be hard to do this when you’re feeling down on yourself, so ask yourself: What would you tell your best friend if they were saying those things about themself?
2) Prove yourself wrong.
The things you do impact how you feel—what actions can you take to combat your negative thoughts?
Give yourself evidence that these thoughts aren’t entirely true.
3) Counter negative thoughts with positive ones.
When you catch your inner dialogue being mean to you, make yourself say something nice to balance it out. This may feel awkward in the beginning.
4) Remember: thoughts aren’t facts.
Your thoughts and feelings are valid, but they aren’t always reality. You might feel ugly, but that doesn’t mean you are.
Oftentimes, we can be our own worst enemies—other people are seeing us in a much nicer light than how we see ourselves.