I used to think losing those last ten pounds would bring me happiness, or maybe the next promotion, or next pair of shoes. Over time, I have realized the key to true contentment was showing gratitude in every moment and celebrating me each and every single day.
At the moment, I am sitting nearly 30 pounds above my goal weight yet can honestly write that when I look in the mirror, I am truly in love with me. In fact, the only reason why I have committed myself to lose weight is I am not willing to buy a new wardrobe.
I have learned to appreciate and love the skin I am in. After all, we have an entire episode entitled, Happy Girls, Are the Prettiest. As I learn to practice silencing my inner critic, I become more and more able to recognize when my thoughts threaten to tear down my joy, personhood or relationships.
Capturing and silencing negative thoughts dead in their tracks and replacing them with positive ones is precisely what the bible is referring to when it tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:5
Toxic thoughts can stop you from finding true happiness. They can also drain you of the strength you need to run your race with grace. They can affect each experience you have and make you feel resentful.
Beware of these toxic thoughts and use counter-strategies to increase your happiness:
"I’ll always be alone"
1. Focus on what you already have.
Do you have loving parents or siblings? Do you have amazing friends or coworkers? If you look carefully, you’ll see you’re never truly alone. As you become more grateful you will see each day give you more things to celebrate.
Being lonely and feeling isolated are normal human emotions. However, they become toxic when you think that things will always be this way.
This toxic thought can make you feel that you’re the only person on the planet. It can make you believe that you’ll never find love or a partner, and it can stop you from feeling joy.
"I hate my body"
2. Notice the things you do like about your body.
Hating your body can be one of the most toxic thoughts in your mind. It can lead to eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and other challenges. Everyone can find an imperfection, but it’s important to avoid dwelling on them.
Understand that your body is a gift. It’s part of what makes you unique. Accentuate those characteristics, focus on them, and you’ll find it easier to start loving the body you have.
If you are truly unhappy with your current weight, think about one healthy decision you can make to turn things around. For me, that choice was giving up meat most days out of the week because it made me feel lethargic.
"I’m not happy with my career"
3. Start asking yourself what you should be learning instead of complaining about what is happening.
Someone once told me there must be an 80/20 rule with every role you take. Meaning, when the things you are unhappy with begin exceeding 20% of your work life, it may be time to make a move.
Your job can make you feel unhappy, but dwelling on it is another toxic thought. Try to avoid thinking about how much you hate your work and instead seek out new work without dwelling on your hatred for the current job.
Follow your passion for a new career without anger and resentment. It’s always more beneficial to go toward something instead of away from something else.
Ask yourself what this season in your workplace may be teaching you. Oftentimes, promotions are preceded by great testing.
"I'm not worthy"
4. Congratulate yourself each time you do something right.
This toxic thought can wear many outfits. You may feel that you’re not worthy of love, success, money, or other things. You may believe that you always have to suffer and struggle. You may decide that you’re not meant for greater things. This toxic thought can stop you from enjoying life and finding happiness.
These feelings of worthlessness are only in your mind. You’re a unique person who has value, but you’ve convinced yourself otherwise.
Often, this toxic thought comes from what you think others are thinking about you. You falsely assume that others don’t see any value in you, so you’re self-esteem sinks to a low level.
Find things that you do satisfactorily. Even small ones count. For example, if you made a tasty breakfast, congratulate yourself. If you like the outfit you’re wearing, kudos to you for picking out something nice. Let your thoughts dwell on what you do right!
"I don't have enough"
5. Be thankful for what you do have.
This toxic thought can manifest itself in multiple ways, such as thinking you don’t have enough money, skills, talents, or abilities. You may also think you don’t have enough connections, friends, children, or things.
Scarcity thoughts stop you from appreciating what you already have around you. They prevent you from finding joy in being thankful. With these thoughts, you may never have enough material possessions or people to love, regardless of how many you actually have.
You can certainly strive for more, but it’s important to also be thankful for what you do have.
Toxic thoughts are easy to create and often hard to eliminate. They can overwhelm you if you aren’t careful. If toxic thoughts have gotten a hold on you, it’s important to take action to shoo them out of your mind.
Notice when these toxic thoughts arise. Immediately, switch that thought to one that’s more positive and uplifts you. Meditate, repeat affirmations, and try these ideas to loosen their grip. Do these actions consistently, and soon you’ll find that things work out for your good more often.
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