Combating Negative Thoughts

So combating negative thinking is something I guess I’ve always struggled with. It’s gotten a lot worse though in the last several months. For background, it coincides with some really bad mistakes I made and how I deeply hurt someone bc I can’t think, I really struggle with predicting how my thoughts and actions could hurt others. My critical thinking skills seemed to have disappeared ages ago, and that’s been negatively affecting my job.

This community gave me some kind advice for learning to focus and think better. I am starting on those. But I am plagued by negative thoughts almost constantly, like I can’t break out of it unless I have a serious distraction, like hanging out with a friend or binging YouTube/movies. It’s hard to do exercises to focus when I am hyper focused on all my mistakes and worries.

I have looked at a lot of self help sites for how to stop negative thinking. Self help UK was especially good. There’s all these tactics, and it seems behind of all is the idea that you don’t have to listen to these negatives thoughts. They are not the truth. Some things I’ve seen is to think about what’s realistic to happen, instead of the worst case scenario, to assess if you’re looking at a situation with your “gloomy lenses” on. They say to focus on the positives, no matter how small, to write them down and not discount them.

But like, how do you actually put this into practice? I can’t convince myself these negative thoughts aren’t true. I don’t see anything in my life to counter my belief that I’m incompetent, useless, and a terrible friend. I don’t have any accomplishments professionally, I use to write but I’ve struggled to do that so nothing to be proud of there, I deeply hurt a friend and recently bounced another friend around because I squeezed a lot in in the last few weeks and didn’t make sure to carve out time for her (I recognized what I did and apologized, and said I had the rest of the month clear for her, and she thanked me. But she hasn’t responded to any of my texts in over a week and I know she’s busy but she has time to talk to other ppl. I’m afraid she’s really pissed at me and I can’t take another friend being mad at me). I finally moved out recently, I live with one of my best friends now, and even tho this was something I could finally attain after YEARS of wanting it, I don’t feel overjoyed like I thought I would. I don’t feel accomplished. I’m like what’s the big deal, loads of people have done this at a much younger age, this isn’t any accomplishment. I thought this would also help my issues bc it means I can’t hide away in my room moping as much as I used to, I can’t cave to my desire to be a recluse. But idt it’s helped that much, I feel the same overall.

What I am supposed to do? How do I use positive thinking tactics when I really believe this negative stuff about myself? How do I stop discounting success? If I could have ONE thing to be proud of, I think i could have some proof to counter this negative with. But my mind is so negative and I’m struggling with focusing so I can’t create anything.

Have you been in a similar place? Where did you start? How did you get all these positive thinking methods to work for you?

Man I can relate to this so much…I was actually talking about this with my counselor the other day, and she gave me some fantastic advice about how to combat my negative thoughts…she gave me an exercise to start to journal the ways I had succeeded in a day, and not to qualify it based on whether or not it was perfect / better than what other people do / etc…

So here’s what I do…I’ve decided 5 characteristics of who I want to become (not what I want to accomplish):

  1. I want to be a good son and good father
  2. I want to be a supportive husband
  3. I want to be a faithful friend
  4. I want to be wise
  5. I want to be someone who doesn’t give up when things aren’t perfect

So when I journal, I’ve just been thinking back over the past day and taking notes on where I did something towards that end of becoming that type of person…so today I took 15 minutes to play with my daughter on a little “day date”…I’d tally that as a win under #1…I took some time to pray for and encourage a friend today over email, so I’d tally that for #3…I worked from a coffee shop instead of alone at home (wise decision to not be alone with my electronic [I struggle with porn]), so I’d tally that for #4, etc, etc.

Counting my own victories has really helped me SEE myself differently…it’s changing the way I look at what’s a win and what’s not, what I can be proud of and what I can’t…it started having pretty immediate effects on the way I saw myself, and I really enjoy it – it makes me feel good about myself.

Hope this helps, man :slight_smile:

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Thanks for taking the time to write this Nate, this is a really good suggestion. I have always struggled with actionable goal setting, but the way you’ve done it make sense to me because it’s about who I want to be, and I can back out from there and look at what I’ve done each day to make myself that person. Thanks again :slight_smile: