I know from neurosis. Seconds before writing this post, I heard “Hey Soul Sister” come up on our office’s playlist. I saw a visitor sitting someone from outside the company sitting in the lobby, and my bad broken brain thought, Oh no, what if she’s here for an interview and thinks our company is the kind of place where everyone likes “Hey Soul Sister”? Great job, brain. So I’m grateful for this recent Harvard Business Review piece “How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Mistakes”, which gives strong advice for breaking a pattern of excessive negative thinking.
While the piece lays out several strategies for catching, identifying, and dispelling damaging thoughts, this one stood out:
Look for any subtle entitlement or self-absorption hidden in your ruminations. Do you expect things to always go your way? Do you tend to believe people are scrutinizing you when, in reality, they’re probably thinking about themselves? Do you spend time comparing yourself to business superstars or celebrities?
In other words, if you’re being too hard on yourself, maybe it’s because you think way too highly of yourself. You don’t even have to think you’re wonderful to fall into this trap, you just have to think you’re important. Because you think everything you do has grave consequences, and that everyone is paying attention to you, you mentally magnify even your smallest mistakes into national emergencies.
Reader: It me. If it you too, read the whole piece for more specific tactics for dealing with obsessive negative thoughts. Strategies include a targeted form of meditation to slow racing thoughts, and a cognitive behavioural approach that helps you logic your way out of destructive thinking patterns.
How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Mistakes | Harvard Business Review