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Challenge negative or inaccurate thinking
Your initial thoughts may not be the only possible way to view a situation. So test the accuracy of your thoughts. Ask yourself whether your view of a situation is consistent with facts and logic or whether there might be other explanations.
You may not easily recognize inaccuracies in your thinking. Most people have automatic, long-standing ways of thinking about their lives and themselves. These long-held thoughts and beliefs feel normal and factual to you, but many are simply opinions or perceptions.
These kinds of thought patterns tend to erode self-esteem:
All-or-nothing thinking. You see things as either all good or all bad. For example, "If I don't succeed in this job, I'm a total failure."
Mental filtering. You see only negatives and dwell on them, distorting your view of a person or situation or your entire life. For example, "I made a mistake on that report and now everyone will realize I'm a failure."
Converting positives into negatives. You reject your achievements and other positive experiences by insisting that they don't count. For example, "My date only gave me that compliment because he knows how bad I feel." "I only did well on that test because it was so easy."
Jumping to negative conclusions. You reach a negative conclusion when little or no evidence supports it. For example, "My friend hasn't replied to my e-mail, so I must have done something to make her angry."
Mistaking feelings for facts. You confuse feelings or beliefs with facts. For example, "I feel like a failure, so I must be a failure." No matter how strong a feeling is, it isn't a fact.
Self put-downs. You undervalue yourself, put yourself down or use self-deprecating humor. This can result from overreacting to a situation, such as making a mistake. For example, "I don't deserve anything better." "I'm weak, stupid or ugly."
These strategies may help you approach situations in a healthy way:
Use hopeful statements. Be kind and encouraging to yourself. Pessimism can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if you think your presentation isn't going to go well, you may indeed stumble through it. Try telling yourself things such as, "Even though it's tough, I can handle this situation."
Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes aren't permanent reflections on you as a person. They are isolated moments in time. Tell yourself, "I made a mistake but that doesn't make me a bad person."
Avoid 'should' and 'must' statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you may be setting unreasonable demands on yourself — or others. Removing these words from your self-talk can give you and others more realistic expectations.
Focus on the positive. Think about the good parts of your life. Ask yourself, "What other things have gone well recently?" "What personal skills do I have that have helped me cope with challenging situations in the past?"
Relabel upsetting thoughts. . Having negative thoughts doesn't mean you must choose to react negatively. Instead, think of them as signals to use new, healthy thinking patterns. Ask yourself, "Which of my strengths can help me respond in a constructive way?" "What can I think and do to make this less stressful?"
Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. Treat yourself as well as you'd treat a loved one. Tell yourself, "I did a good job on the presentation. It may not have been perfect, but my colleagues said it was good."