You've gone over your calories for the day or eaten something on your "forbidden" list. You figure that since you've blown your diet, you might as well keep on eating and start over tomorrow. You keep eating, but despise yourself for it.You've done well all week, but the scale says you've gained a pound. You panic, feeling certain that you're doomed to be fat forever. You set the alarm an hour early to exercise, but hit snooze. Feeling like a lazy slug, you wonder if you have any willpower to do what you know you need to do.Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?The tendency to leap from minor problems to overblown, unrealistic conclusions is something that everyone struggles with to some degree. This type of negative thinking is one of the biggest reasons people have difficulty sticking to their weight loss plan and why small problems can cause stress and misery that is often avoidable. Here are three techniques to stop all those negative thoughts before they stop you:Look for hidden thoughts and assumptions
The process of moving from an event (like going over your daily calories) to a conclusion about the meaning of that event (I've blown my diet) and what you should do about it (keep eating, start over later), typically involves several more mental steps that you probably aren't aware of. These steps are called "automatic thoughts" because they are habitual, happen quickly and feel so
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to us that we don't even notice them.Although you can't completely prevent automatic thoughts from occurring, these thoughts are not always accurate. Chronic negativity about yourself or your situation is a good sign that your automatic thoughts are inaccurate.The first step is to develop the habit of asking yourself, "What would have to be true in order for the negative conclusion I reached to be justified?" For example, what would have to be true in order for going over your calorie limit to mean that you've blown your diet? Wouldn't it have to be true that your diet is a one-day event that requires a perfect performance on your part?You know that's not the case.Learn to argue with yourself
Once you recognize some of your automatic thoughts, you can inspect them and, if necessary, argue with them. The flaw in the above example is pretty obvious - permanent weight loss is not a short-term project, and doesn't require perfection. But sometimes the flaw or assumption won't be as obvious. If that's the case, then you may need to do some investigating.Do what doesn't come naturally
One reason that negative thoughts become so automatic and pervasive in our minds is that they are consistent with your typical feelings. If you find yourself jumping to negative conclusions about yourself, your abilities and your options and opportunities, it's probably because that feels "right" and comfortable to you. This doesn't mean you have to figure out why it feels "right" to feel bad about yourself.Again, you'll simply respond better to doing things differently.Changing those negative thoughts and judgments into realistic and reasonable ones is going to feel uncomfortable and unnatural. In fact, feeling uncomfortable is probably a good sign that this is exactly what you need to be doing to get past your problems. When you find yourself arriving at a negative conclusion about you or your situation, stop thinking that and start thinking the exact opposite.When you're unsure about what the problem is, your best bet is to do what doesn't come naturally.No matter how big, bad or scary the problem seems, you're always just one thought away from turning it into an opportunity for change, growth and progress. All you have to do is find that thought.