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7 Negative Thought Patterns that Destroy Motivation

Negative Thought Patterns

Life is not always fun. Life is also unpredictable. We may lose a job or a relationship; we may not like the job we have right now.

If the thought patterns are basically positive and optimistic, we hit our issues head on and push right on through them.

If, however, our thought patterns are negative and pessimistic, we lie down, accept the issues as insurmountable, and have no motivation to move forward.

Here are 7 negative thinking habits that may be killing your motivation. Breaking those habits and replacing them with positive thought patterns will change your life.

Let Me Just Think About Everything that is Wrong

This is such an easy habit to fall into. Of course there are things that are “wrong” in your life. You haven’t found the right relationship or a job; you are overweight; your commute to work is too long; your kids are too demanding; the news is depressing. The list could go on and on.

Each of us, on any given day, could probably name 20 things that are “wrong.” If you have developed the negative response habit to focus on all that is wrong, you will sit and stew, and you will lose all motivation to do anything.

The Solution:

Make a list. Write it out. State everything that is good and decent about your existence right now.

Are you starving? Are you homeless? Do you have a terminal illness?

Put that list in a prominent place, and start being grateful for what you do have. And you are having a problem doing that?

Every time you move into that negative pattern, replace that thinking with what you have to be grateful for. Your problems will become less consuming, and you will gain motivation.

If I or It Can’t be Perfect, I Won’t Even Try

It’s a good thing to strive for perfection. It’s quite another to be happy that we produced our best, even though it was not perfect. But if we insist upon perfection, we will avoid doing things.

Maybe you want a career change, and you need to go back to school to do this. But you may not end up being the top student in the program; maybe you need to look for a new job, but no open positions are exactly right, so you won’t bother to apply.

The Solution:

This is the toughest negative thought pattern to break. And it is only done in little steps.

Perhaps you enroll in only one course in school. Maybe you get an A- instead of an A. Enroll in the next course anyway.

With each new acceptance of “less than perfect,” you will learn to accept more. You’ll discover that “less than perfect” can still be pretty awesome.

I Can’t Be as Good as ____ (supply name), so I Just Won’t Try

The need to compare ourselves with others comes from low self-esteem. It wastes time and leads to procrastination. Maybe a friend has started his/her own business. In the next breath, however, you say, “I could never do that.” You have just set yourself up for stagnation, striving for nothing new.

The Solution:

You have to become a risk-taker, even in small ways. You may not start your own business today, but you could produce a product and sell it on Etsy.

Each little risk that meets with success will motivate you to take larger risks. This is what motivation is all about – letting the small successes move you on to bigger ones.

I’m Not Going to Set Goals Because I Never Achieve Them Anyway

If you truly believe that you can’t set goals because you can’t reach them, then you will never be motivated.

People typically set lofty goals that they may not reach. But along the way, striving to meet those goals benefits others as well as themselves. If they should achieve a goal, they set a new one right away.

The Solution:

Set a small goal that will benefit others. Maybe you will get 5 friends to adopt a family for Christmas this year. Work toward that goal. Perhaps you will only get 3 friends to join in. You will see that setting goals does not always mean achieving them 100%, but 60% ain’t bad.

Once you have this type of experience, you will set goals for yourself and be satisfied if they are not achieved 100%.

My Past Mistakes were Pretty Bad – I Really Need to Feel Guilty and Be Regretful

You can ruminate on all of your past mistakes. And you will be stuck in “time,” drudging up all the guilt and regret.

None of those past mistakes can act as motivators if you dwell on them and feel bad. They can only act as motivators if they spur you on to do something different now.

If you feed your guilt and regret, you are “stuck” forever.

The Solution:

Can you have a re-do? In some instances you can. If you are estranged from some family members, what steps can you take to correct that?

Look at each mistake about which you feel guilty or have regret. If you can fix it, do so. If not, let it go.

I Have so Many Flaws – I Really Cannot Tackle this New Challenge

This is a thought pattern that is also developed over time. It often relates to the need to be perfect.

You are not capable of challenges you have, so you just shut down and don’t tackle any of them.

Perhaps there is something new you must learn; maybe you will be required to interact with people you don’t know and you are not good with strangers. Avoidance is safer.

The Solution:

When you have a challenge, look at it square in the eye.

  • Is there any part of it that you can take on?
  • Can you find one person who can collaborate with you?

Get into the company of others who are motivated and who really want to tackle this challenge. Their motivation will rub off on you. Together you can take on this challenge. Your self-confidence will grow.

I Have too Many Obligations – I Can’t Get Motivated to Take on Anything New

You are the classic “pleaser.” And you have dug a ditch for yourself.

You are resentful that you are spending all of your time meeting the needs of others – actions that don’t benefit you at all.

You wallow in self-pity and resentment, and there you stay. You continue to perform those actions that others expect of you, you accept your state, and you just stay there.

The Solution:

Stand in front of a mirror and practice saying the word, “No,” politely but assertively. And each time you say “no,” you get stronger. And each time you get stronger, you can think about what you want for yourself and how you get there.

It’s liberating and can give you the motivation to set your own goals and priorities.

Replacing negative thought habits is hard work. You cannot do this overnight, and you may get discouraged along the way. But if you don’t work on these 7 bad habits, you will be relegated to a life of mediocrity – one that is not fulfilling and that leaves you unmotivated and unhappy.

About the Author
Daniela McVicker is an ambitious writer who believes that every day is a big challenge. Currently works as freelance blogger for AR. You can follow Daniela on Twitter or add her on Facebook.