Psychologists have long studied the deep interconnectedness of our thoughts and actions. Both negative, unhealthy thoughts and positive thoughts can impact our health, wellbeing and overall mental state. At times, we may feel stuck in a loop, overthinking unpleasant encounters, experiences or setbacks we’ve endured. With the positioning of today’s news, impact of social media and tense political and social climate, we may find ourselves being drawn to more negative and depressing topics, articles and people.
This negative pattern of unhealthy thoughts can influence how we feel, think, and act, and can have some less-than-desirable effects on our psychological state, increasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Recognizing unhealthy patterns is the first step in addressing them.
Unhealthy thought patterns can present as:
- Oversimplified, “black and white,” thinking
- Emotional reasoning—when your emotions are the only evidence to certain truths
- Overgeneralization and labeling yourself and those around you
- Jumping to negative conclusions without considering the positive
- Mental filtering, or remembering only the negative of situations
- Fortune telling or mind-reading—assuming you know what will happen or how someone feels
- Catastrophic thinking and magnifying negative experiences, feelings and situations
- Control fallacies or change fallacies
- Minimizing positive experiences or emotions
- Personalization and self-blame
If you can relate to any of these negative patterns, you have likely developed additional negative habits that perpetuate the above such as, overthinking, ruminating or being overly cynical, angry and hostile towards yourself and others. How can we offset these negative thought patterns and break these habits? Compassion.
Compassion has been long talked about in philosophical and spiritual writings as an antidote to suffering. But in the last 30 years or so, the study of compassion has revealed major physiological and psychological effects influencing well-being and addressing mental health difficulties.
There are two types of compassion—compassion for others and self-compassion—and both can have an incredible impact on our mental health and well-being. Cultivating compassion for yourself and others can help you gain a sense of purpose and live a more fulfilling life.
Here are a few tips to help you develop compassion for yourself and others in daily life:
- Work with a mental health professional to help you practice caring behaviors
- Find time for meditation
- Prioritize self-care and foster self-love
- Embrace positive people, causes and experiences
Strengthening your sense of compassion for yourself and others has proven benefits to your mental health. Practicing self-compassion can change how you respond to a difficult time or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of ignoring your experience, or addressing it in a negative way, stop and ask yourself how you can care for yourself. This could involve positive self-talk, mindful thinking, your favorite form of self-care or attending therapy.
A qualified and experienced therapist can help you promote mental and emotional healing, allowing you to cultivate compassion toward yourself and other people. Living Well Counseling Center in Tinton Falls offers individualized therapy to men and women ages fifteen and older. If you suffer from negative thought patterns, and are looking to strengthen your compassion practice, get in touch today.
TELEPHONE: (732) 440-9330