Fostering Acceptance: Identifying Negative Thoughts

We all have a running inner dialogue of thoughts. Sometimes this inner self talk is pessimistic, critical or blaming.

By attending to our inner self talk, we will notice critical thoughts intruding, and that’s ok.  We need to look carefully at our angry thoughts and try to see if we are making errors in the way we interpret situations. It can help to examine long held beliefs about anger and challenge those, which are unhelpful. Distorted thinking involves angry thoughts that flash into our mind and make us feel worse. People tend to have recurring thoughts that arise again and again when angry.

  • “He is looking over here at me and thinks I’m stupid”
  • “They always let me down”
  • “She just doesn’t care about me, she is selfish”
  • “[Expletive!] What a piece of [expletive] junk! Now we’re going to be [expletive] late!”
  • “[Expletive!] What a [expletive] jerk! He knew this was an important [expletive] meeting! So why is he [expletive] late?”

Try This

The way we think has a lot to do with the way we feel, so changing our thoughts from a hateful, negative orientation to a calm, positive orientation becomes essential in managing feelings of hurt and insult. We can begin by spending 15 minutes every day capturing our thought process on paper. Looking at our thoughts on paper helps us to identify the exaggerated pessimistic thoughts we have. After identifying our negative thoughts, write several positive statements for each negative one. We can focus on what we can do about the problem. Replace unfulfilled longing with realistic goals or plans for change. When we can’t do anything to change a problematic situation, we can work toward acceptance.

We can keep a list of our most common negative thought habits and positive alternatives for each. Refer to this list whenever negative thoughts arise, until we can substitute helpful alternatives from memory or immediately make up new thought alternatives to counter the negative thoughts. We can remind ourselves;

– It won’t always be like this

– I am responsible for my efforts, not the outcomes

– It’s about the journey, not the destination

– Right now I am ok

– I have put up with disappointments all my life; I can tolerate this one too.

– Not getting my way is only disappointing, not the end of the world.

– I don’t have to have everything you want. The world was not made just for me.

– In order to achieve pleasant results, I often have to do unpleasant things.

– I cannot predict the future or prevent things from happening. I can take life as it comes.

– I’m cooperating to get the job done as best I can under battlefield conditions.

– I am not out of control. I have the power of choice, to choose and live up to my own standards. 

– I am not unlovable. I feel that way now because of past experiences. I am no more or less loveable than anyone else.

– I am not guilty of a crime, just imperfect. They are using guilt to control me.

– I do not have to defend myself. I can express regret that this happened.

– I am not worthless, only imperfect.

– I am not perfect, I’m not required to be.

– I am a good person going through a hard time.

– I will get through this.

– I can handle this,

– This feeling will pass.

– I am a good person whether they appreciate it or not. 

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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