5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Think

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This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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“I have such a squirrel brain!” my friend wrote, sending a laughing emoji with her text. We’d planned to take a walk together, but she’d forgotten and offered an explanation. “My mind bounces all over the place!” she said. I laughed because of my friend’s self-deprecating humor. But I wondered if she really believed it. I knew her to be on top of everything in her kids’ lives. She was also a fun and loyal friend. But it wasn’t the first time that she’d put herself down.

We have to be careful what we allow ourselves to think, whether it’s about ourselves, our marriages, or our kids. Just because it’s funny or passes through our heads doesn’t mean it’s fact. Allowing thoughts like that to linger can eat away at our mental strength, which is something we need in order to be good moms and role models to our kids. So, ladies, think again! Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t believe everything you think.

1. You might not be thinking the truth.

I’m a terrible friend, I’ve thought. I haven’t returned a text or followed up with a sick friend. But a few instances of being less-than-the-best doesn’t make me terrible. When I think something pessimistic like that, I need to remind myself of all the good things I’ve done, like taking my friend’s daughter with us to the pool. I also always send my out-of-town friend birthday cards. And I returned my friend’s text as soon as I remembered. We can’t be perfect at everything all the time. Instead, we need to remember when we did step up in order to fight off those negative thoughts and keep them from sticking around.

2. Overly positive statements can be harmful.

“She’ll be fine once we’re on the boat,” my friend said about her daughter. But as soon as we set off in the water taxi, the little girl had a panic attack. My friend thought being positive would help downplay her daughter’s anxiety, but in actuality, her denial of her daughter’s discomfort on boats made the trip even worse for both of them. Being aware of our overly negative thoughts is helpful, but we should be cautious of our overly positive ones as well. 

3. You might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I always get stuck picking up after the kids. I never get help, I thought, carrying a stack of board games to the living room. But we should be wary of “I never” or “I always” statements. We don’t want to make them into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, take action to prevent them from becoming truth. Just because these thoughts pass through your mind doesn’t mean they’re true. Keep this advice in mind: Don’t believe everything you think!

4. Recognizing irrational thoughts can train your brain to be more realistic.

What’s an irrational thought? Maybe something like this: I’m the worst mom ever. Absolute statements should be a warning to your brain that they’re probably not true. A more realistic statement might be this: I was late to school pick-up again, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love my children. I’m working on being more punctual. Training yourself not to believe everything you think will make it easier to recognize it when your thoughts are irrational.

5. Challenging your thoughts can build mental strength.

“I’m never going to get everything ready on time for the party,” I thought. But as soon as that thought passed through my mind, I told myself, “No, your daughter is counting on you. You can do it.” I’ve gotten better at kicking these types of thoughts out of my mind because the longer I let them stay, the harder they are to remove. If you’re unsure about a thought, ask yourself challenging questions. Have I done this before? Did I succeed the last time? According to author and therapist Amy Morin, you can also ask family and friends to challenge your thinking. If you want to be a good role model for your kids, don’t believe everything you think!

Women who don’t believe everything they think have practice challenging their thoughts. What was the last thought you challenged?

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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