Yet, when we make a mistake, we can end up in a cycle of negative thinking. We miss a workout or eat more at a meal than we mean to, and then we feel bad and may tend to criticize ourselves. Unfortunately, putting ourselves down after experiencing a setback can lead to further slips. This tendency to focus on negatives can make it harder to learn from the mistake and move forward with our health goals.
Fortunately, changing how we think about ourselves and our actions can prevent us from getting trapped in a cycle of negative thinking.
3 Ways You Can Change Your Mindset to Improve Your Health
Research has shown that people often emphasize the negative aspects of an event or situation than the positives. This tendency can impact the choices and decisions we make or cloud how we remember or think about situations. As a result, we may dwell on our mistakes, making it harder to maintain our motivation.
Fortunately, you can change your mindset. Here are three strategies to help you adjust your thinking, which can help you stay motivated and working toward your health goals.
1. Balance Your Thinking
Have you ever had a good day ‘ruined’ by one bad thing happening, like an argument with a coworker or eating more than you’d planned at lunch? You may find yourself focusing on one negative event and ignoring the other positive things that happened during the day. As a result, you end up telling yourself that you had a bad day or that you’ll never lose weight because you always make bad food choices.
We all tend to focus on the negative at times, but this type of thinking can hold us back and make it harder to stay motivated on our goals. While acknowledging difficult moments and feelings is important (we can’t wish them away or ignore them), we can also learn to balance these moments with other events that happen during our day.
To help, you can:
- Start noticing when you’re dwelling on the negatives and letting them overshadow the good choices and positive events of your day
- Explore the negative event or mistake openly and honestly so you’re not just focusing on the negatives and look for anything you can learn from the situation
- Stop or limit yourself, so you don’t ruminate on the topic at the expense of focusing on other aspects of your day or enjoying the good things that are happening
While you don’t want to ignore unpleasant events or mistakes, you don’t have to blame yourself or keep dwelling on them repeatedly. You can look for ways to learn from the event, if possible, acknowledge the feelings, and remind yourself that no one moment can undo your positive actions and decisions.
2. Build Your Self-efficacy
Self-efficacy is your belief that you are able to successfully complete a task, like living a healthier lifestyle and overcoming any obstacles or challenges you face during that journey. For example, telling yourself that you can live a healthy lifestyle or lose weight or run a 5K would help support your self-efficacy.
To help build your self-efficacy, you can:
- Watch or talk with others who are achieving similar goals since when you see someone losing weight or completing a 5K, you will also increase your belief that you can do it too
- Get support and encouragement from others who also believe in your ability that you can successfully achieve your goal
- Highlight to yourself instances when you did small steps toward the goal or completed the goal, such as if you’re reducing your sugar intake acknowledge to yourself when you leave it out of your coffee or choose water over a soda
3. Evaluate What Is (and Isn’t) in Your Control
Sometimes when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle, such as losing weight, eating healthy foods, and sleeping more, you can become focused on things that may not fully be in your control. For example, you may judge your progress on your weight loss goal by what you weigh. However, you can’t fully control how quickly or where on your body you will lose weight. If you find your weight fluctuating or not going down as quickly as you like, you may become discouraged even if you’re doing behaviors that will help you lose weight over time.
Focusing on the behaviors, you can control, like eating more vegetables each week or drinking water instead of soda, will help you feel more successful and motivated than if you judge your progress by the number on the scale.
To help, you can:
- Remind yourself or write down regularly of the actions you’re taking that are in your control to reach your goals
- Acknowledge the things that aren’t entirely in your control (such as how fast you’re losing weight) and then explore what is in your control that you can do to improve the situation (identifying what you’re doing to help you lose weight and looking for anything else you could do or change)
Making Small Changes in Your Mindset Can Help Your Motivation
We all are going to make mistakes or have a bad day as we work toward building a healthier lifestyle. Acknowledging and feeling those emotions are important. However, we don’t have to get stuck in a negative cycle or let one mistake or one bad moment detract from the good events and choices that also happened in our day.
Balancing your thinking can help us learn from your mistakes and cope with negative events without it sabotaging our progress towards a healthier lifestyle.