Negative self-talk is like one of those silent diseases that no-one can see but has severe detrimental effects. Surrounding us today is a culture eager to promote self-love with the focus of treating ourselves better. Treating ourselves with kindness.
So we can go ahead and work on our bodies, find ways to relax and cut ourselves some slack but none of that is going to go a long way in helping us if we’re bashing ourselves from the inside out.
Far more damaging than that extra Mars Bar, 6 rounds of pints or 10 packets of crisps has on our body is the hours upon hours we can spend mentally berating ourselves with negative self-talk.
Think about it.
Perhaps one day you go against your better judgement and decide that instead of putting on your running shoes and going for a quick whiz around the block; you’ll get comfy in the butt groove ingrained in your sofa, peel open a family size bar of dairy milk and binge-watch 5 hours of the latest Netflix original series.
You might spend the next day overcompensating. Screaming at yourself:
‘See, you’re just so lazy!’
‘You’ll never get anywhere if you don’ get off your arse!’
‘Fatty, fatty, fatty, fatty!’
For the next week you live off green smoothies and refuse to sit down for longer than 3 minutes at a time because you need to prove to yourself that, no, you are not the lazy bum that you would have yourself believe.
It’s instinctive, reactive and seemingly uncontrollable.
In this article, I’m going to explain exactly what negative self-talk is, why we speak to ourselves in this way, the different types of negative self-talk and how we might try to replace it with kinder words.
This will go a long way to helping you build self-confidence, understand your anxiety and boost your self-esteem. When negative self-talk is allowed to thrive, life can feel like an uphill struggle. Let’s change that, Shall we?
THE CRUELTY OF NEGATIVE SELF TALK
When I have those rare moments of heightened awareness and catch myself throwing a bit of verbal abuse my way, I think about those times when I was at school and had the delight of Mrs Williams for the afternoon class.
You can picture it now, that one teacher who couldn’t do anything but yell and spit at you. No niceties or pleasantries, just pure disgust toward you just for being a student.
You have to wonder how these people fall into these professions, right.
But when I think back, I distinctly remember thinking, ‘Who the hell is this woman to be talking to any of us like this?’
And in typical fashion, it riled me up far more when she chose to belittle a classmate and friend than when she turned her frustration to me.
The truth is, we wouldn’t dare speak to someone we love the way speak to ourselves.
We wouldn’t allow someone else to speak to them in this way either.
Imagine turning around to your childhood bestie who you’ve known for 35 years and letting the same inner critic that demoralizes you to speak to them…
‘Yeah Jackie, well he was bound to leave you wasn’t he? I mean look at you; you’re good for nothing, mediocre looking at best and crying all the time. No one finds ‘pathetic’ attractive do they?’
If you’re lucky, you might avoid a punch in the mouth but at the very least you may have lost a friendship.
Never would you speak to someone you love this way and yet when it comes to our inner dialogue, the devil on our shoulder seems to be far stronger and prevalent than the angel on the other.
And this is what feels particularly cruel about speaking to ourselves with such negativity, we accept it. We don’t push back and we don’t stand up for ourselves. We just let it happen.
WHY DO WE TALK TO OURSELVES THIS WAY
Like most things, even this sort of negativity can be helpful. No really, it can.
Consider it tough love. A much needed kick up the backside or some harsh words coming from a caring place. Have you ever had your partner or sibling sit across from you, put their hand on yours before staring intensely into your eyes and say, “Before I say this, I want you to know that it comes from a place of love…”
You just know it’s going to be a stinger!
But times like these are when our inner critic can be useful. That little voice can stop us from making mistakes or repeating bad habits because sometimes speaking to ourselves kindly just doesn’t do the trick.
Sometimes we need a good talking to so that we stop wasting our lives and start taking action.
Like the mum who asks the son to clean their room three time nicely before growing horns and breathing flame – bluntness is needed for the little critter to grab the furniture spray and don the marigolds.
So occasionally, it might be worth telling yourself that you’re lazy and to get off your arse.
It was helpful in my case to tell myself to stop being so pathetic. Yes it sounds cruel and believe you me, I didn’t appreciate my self-talk at the time but it motivated me to build some mental strength.
When negative self-talk like this becomes obsessive however, it becomes unhealthy.
When it becomes a knee jerk reaction, an automatic response, then things start to become a bit miserable.
The consequences of which can lead to serious damaging beliefs and mental struggle.
Anxiety and depression thrive in negative self-talk. It’s how they hook you in and smother you until it becomes all you know, they think they’ve won.
With this tool, anxiety and depression can work on establishing an inbuilt response of self-blame, a lack of self-confidence, self-worth and motivation. They love this. This is what they want because the more they can wear you down the less work they have to do to defeat you.
Why do we talk to ourselves this way? Because it becomes a mental habit, a bad one.
Negative self-talk is unavoidable when overthink everything we do, judge our actions and cringe at our behavior. These are natural responses that although you’d love to be free of, unfortunately it’s pretty inescapable. After all, you’re only human…aren’t you?
But, if we allow ourselves to internalize these feelings then they begin to linger and stay with us. If we don’t feel them and let them go, or acknowledge them and move on, then they’re going to hang around.
And when they hang around it becomes harder to gain clarity among the fog of self-destruction.
THE NEGATIVE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE
We set the tone for our lives every single day.
Suddenly I’m taken back to all of the Disney movies I used to watch as a…child. Yes, child.
The sun would glisten in through the window and the princess would arise to birdsong and a happy tune. Life is oh so great despite the fact I live in a damp tower and my step mother has stolen all of my money.
But there’s something in this.
We are in charge of our own narrative and we have the ability to set the tone for each and every moment. Despite what you might think, positive self-talk is a skill that can be learned much like raising self-awareness or improving emotional intelligence.
Negative self-talk is a bad mental habit that can be replaced with a new, shiny mental habit – positive self-talk.
You can learn to speak to yourself better and you can learn to understand the reasons behind your self-deprecation in order to squash it.
Like any film or movie, there is a constant soundtrack playing in the background. Alright, so you don’t have a studio of musicians playing your swan song but you do have an inner voice narrating your life.
Every movement, every decision, every experience, every event, every interaction and everything else you could possibly think of has a narration to go along with it.
But imagine the voice of your narrator has a penchant for only focusing on the things that go wrong. Everything described is melancholic and a bit of a downer; you’ve got a tone of voice that is setting you up for negativity.
We need to shift the soundtrack to a major key and swap out your narrator for someone with a bit more bounce and an eye for balance.
NOT THE EVENTS BUT THE RESPONSE
Cognitive Mediation Theory in basic terms explains that it is not the events of our lives that cause us pain but how we respond to them; how we process them. If you’ve read any of my other articles you will read across a multitude of them that there is no such thing as a bad emotion, only a bad reaction.
We think that it is the event itself that hurts us and we wouldn’t be wrong.
Catching your partner cheating with another person? Painful. Failing your final year exams? Painful. All of these things do hurt but they are also inevitable.
Life is a constant flow of obstacles, struggles and awkward times; it’s just simply a case of which obstacles and struggles you might run into on your particular journey.
But a pain free life is non-existent.
So, avoiding moments like these is not helpful to you as they are going to crop up whether you like it or not. Learning to respond to them in a way that is beneficial however, that is helpful.
Every emotion you experience is dictated by some form of cognitive thinking. So what does that mean?
It means that if how we feel is dependent on how we think, then how we feel in day to day life is determined by how we think in day to day life. That narrator we were discussing? The soundtrack of your life? That is how you habitually think.
How you think = how you talk to yourself.
If you catch yourself stuck in a habit of negative self-talk then with this light bulb moment you should also acknowledge that you’re stuck in an overall negative way of thinking.
With this, you might struggle to respond to life events in a way that is beneficial to you and believe me, even for the most horrible of situations, something of benefit can always be carried forward.
CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE SELF TALK
Anxiety and depression love latching on to us through the process of negative self-talk. They are like a manipulative partner who found a weak spot and are slowly breaking you down, one little whisper at a time.
With anxiety and depression, negative self-talk might manifest itself in a variety of dialogues.
We might feel anxious about an upcoming work event and tell ourselves, ‘You’re going to make a complete idiot of yourself. You’re too boring to hold a decent conversation, you shouldn’t even go!’
Or looking back at an event from the past, no matter how long ago it may be, we might ruminate, ‘If you didn’t say that then they wouldn’t have left. If you had behaved better then they could have loved you. It’s all your fault. You don’t deserve to be loved’
The damaging effects of this kind of thinking on our mental state can be debilitating.
At its extreme, life can feel like a burden and nothing feels enjoyable.
It might seem like a relatively small thing to consider. But there is a huge difference between saying, ‘It’s all your fault’ and ‘You need to take some responsibility here but let’s learn from this and consider how can you try to do better next time?’
There have been moments when I’ve thought back about my self-talk during my past relationship and I get furious with myself for being so cruel. It was during this time where I found myself at the lowest point in my life.
It seeped out into every possible aspect of my life.
Although it began with feelings surrounding my relationship, it quickly spread to how I thought about every other aspect of myself. My soundtrack was dull and heavy. My narrator was pretty unpleasant.
Suddenly, it wasn’t just my relationship that I was royally screwing up; it was my career, my friendships, my financials and everything else. I doubted my talent as an artist and every day felt like a slog.
This is where it becomes a habitual way of thinking.
It becomes the tone of voice you adopt. And with this tone of voice you start to lack belief in yourself. Your self-worth plummets and you blame yourself for every single thing that doesn’t go the way you planned.
Other consequences of negative self-talk:
With constant criticism and judgement of everything little thing you do it’s easy to develop some form of perfectionism. As a perfectionist nothing is ever good enough. Celebrating successes and victories is not an option for a perfectionist because something could have always been done better.
Negative self-talk is a common trait of a perfectionist.
Consider striving for perfection in everything you do. Well, perfection is an unachievable goal because it is entirely subjective so how is this even possible?
Your version of perfect might be entirely different to mine. And so how can we gauge what makes someone perfect? Or, what makes for a perfect outcome?
A perfectionist might take the viewpoint that no matter how well they’ve done, how much progress they’ve made or how much praise they’ve received; nothing is good enough.
With this mindset life can feel very empty and incredibly unsatisfying.
I can speak from experience when I say that destructive self-talk impacts every aspect of your life, including your relationships.
Speaking to yourself in this way brings with it incredible self-doubt and self-sabotage. I ask you, when has self-doubt ever been sexy? Confidence is sexy, self-belief is sexy and courage is sexy.
Self-sabotage and self-doubt within a relationship is a recipe for disaster.
Alright, so imagine I think very lowly of myself. I might project this onto my partner. Suddenly I believe that he thinks lowly of me because that is how I think about myself. Considering that he might think anything different is out of reach.
It can lead to trust issues, arguments and friction that all derive from our own negative self-talk.
How we think about ourselves is how we believe others think about us. So, if we tell ourselves we are worthless, for example, it’s going to be pretty tough to think that anyone else would think otherwise.
I can see very clearly stereotypical scene in any bad chic flick where the dough eyed female lead cries and screams at the chiselled leading actor, ‘You think I’m ugly don’t you!’
The living ken doll stands there wondering what the hell he could have possibly said for her to pull this out of seemingly thin air.
Our protagonist may think that our leading lady is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen in the entire world (if not also stuck in a hefty bad mental habit), the belief that she is ugly is her own.
It’s tough for a partner to support and dissuade a loved one of their damaging self-talk and change their beliefs. Don’t make the mistake of believing that your negative self-talk only affects you, it can affect everyone you have a close relationship with also.
I think we all know someone (or perhaps you’re bold enough that this person might be you) who proclaims that everything bad happens to them.
‘Why is it always me?’ They might ask.
They might not be wrong. They may appear to be subject to a great deal of struggle however, with a lack of emotional resilience toward negative self-talk, how this person thinks can become restricted.
Allow me to explain.
If you’re inner critic, that grumpy narrator, is hell bent on speaking to you in a negative tone of voice then it’s going to be difficult to hear anything else.
Suppose your narrator remains laser focused on the things that have gone wrong then how are you supposed to take into account the things that went right?
Consider if your narrator ignores any silver linings and only takes note of the dark cloud or, a refusal to accept any positive progress and only acknowledges the roadblocks and challenges. How are you supposed to push yourself forward if you can only concentrate on what is holding you back.
Negative self-talk clouds your judgement and dulls your awareness of all of the positive things that are going on around you.
In this way, thinking becomes limited.
Everything is tainted with a negative tone and that’s very difficult to break free from.
TYPES OF NEGATIVE SELF TALK
If you want to get technical here, and I do, the various different types of negative self-talk are what the psychologists call Cognitive Distortions. In layman’s terms, a skewed way of thinking.
A distorted image of reality. They are called distortions because they are often unrealistic or inaccurate understandings of reality which cause us to feel pretty miserable, pretty often.
They are unhelpful forms of self-talk. With these forms of self-talk we can be left feeling down and despondent on a daily basis.
If we can raise our self-awareness and recognize when we are practicing any of the following types of thinking patterns then we have the capability to break the bad mental habit loop.
I don’t need to go into this too much, do I?
This form of negative self-talk would have us believe that we know exactly what someone else is thinking. We might not have any proof, any evidence to support us but we march forward with ultimate certainty that yes, they thought my hat was stupid.
What happens here is similar to what was previously discussed surrounding relationship struggles; we project our own thoughts and feelings onto someone else.
If my narrator is telling me that I’m ugly then my mind reading skills might activate and decide that the person opposite me on the train must also think I’m ugly.
If my narrator is telling me that my parents are disappointed in me then, without any evidence to suggest it is so, we might presume that they are disappointed.
Mind reading is a special skill indeed…that absolutely no-one has the privilege to possess.
However negative self-talk would have us convinced that we know exactly what everyone else thinks and feels about us. But really, it’s just the projection of how we think and feel about ourselves.
Overgeneralization takes place when we make a general assumption that an event or experience might be negative because of a single isolated incident in the past. We tar every incident with the same brush, if you will.
The two experiences may have very few similarities but with overgeneralization we find one little thing that can link the two and jump to the conclusion that this next event is destined to play out as catastrophically as the last.
If one partner cheats on us we might think that every partner will cheat on us.
Perhaps you were denied a pay rise so you believe you will never get one.
Or, maybe you embarrassed yourself at the work party so you don’t go to anymore because you will only embarrass yourself again.
Overgeneralization stops us from making progress and trying new things. Ultimately, this is something that we all have a tendency to do at one time or another however, if you fixate and deny yourself the chance to see if things might be different next time then you deny yourself of growth.
Magnification can also be described as catastrophizing. Where negative self-talk is concerned we might look at the small flaws and insecurities we have about ourselves and throw them under a magnifying glass.
We make our flaws seem ten times worse than what they are or take a bad experience and replay it to be much, much worse than it actually was.
An example might be someone who considers themselves to be unintelligent. If they were to magnify this then they might start describing themselves as ‘thick’ or ‘stupid’.
In turn they might decide that they are too embarrassed to meet new people because they have the belief that they can’t hold a worth while conversation.
In contrast to magnification, minimization involves ignoring our strengths and positive attributes. With this we might not celebrate our successes or victories, or applaud our talents. We remain ignorant of all of the things that make us great.
A perfectionist would be a perfect example of someone whose negative self-talk is a fine balance of magnification and minimization.
They are blind and dismissive of their skills and overly fixated on their failings.
Emotional reasoning is the act of decision making based on how we feel rather than what we value.
When emotional reasoning is at play we are fuelled by our emotions and unable to look beyond moment. Logical thinking is needed alongside emotional reasoning to filter our thoughts and feelings so we can respond to them correctly.
Sometimes this means doing things even when we don’t feel like it because ultimately it’s for our own good. Without logical thinking we might behave irrationally and inappropriately.
For example, emotional reasoning might have you drinking two bottles of wine one Tuesday evening rather than going for the usual 5k evening run because ‘you don’t feel like it’.
Emotional reasoning usually lacks self-regulation whereby you can step back and think, ‘I know that’s what I want to do with how I’m feeling right now but it’s not actually the best decision’.
Black and White Thinking
Black and white thinking It does what it says on the tin whereby everything is viewed on the extreme end of the emotional spectrum with no middle ground.
When someone is stuck in a black and white thought pattern they can be brutally harsh on themselves, set themselves up for constant disappointment and live by unrealistically high standards.
So a perfectionist would certainly have a tendency to lean toward black and white thinking.
By evaluating moments to such an extreme, negative self-talk such as this can lead to a person feeling consistently demoralized.
For example, a manager might pull and employee in to their office for a mid-term one to one. They might explain that, on the whole, the employee has done a marvellous job, congratulations! However, they did this one miniscule thing wrong which needs to be rectified.
They ask that the employee not make this same mistake again. The employee, despite receiving praise in abundance might only be able to think to themselves, ‘God I’m useless!’.
Or perhaps you meet the in-laws for the first time and as you reflect back at the extended moments of silence you think, ‘I so awkward?!’ All of this despite the fact that these moments of silence were far and few between compared to the hours of flowing conversation.
Personalization is a form of self-talk that a lot of people adopt. With personalization someone might be inclined to take on responsibility for things even when they are outside their realm of control.
Now, taking ownership is the sign of an emotionally intelligent individual and when you don’t take ownership you might find yourself leaning toward the denial of your actions and the blaming of others.
So you need to take ownership and you need to take responsibility. This is helpful to you but what is not helpful is the opposite of this – personalization. Or, self-blame.
If on one end of things you don’t take responsibility for anything in your life then you will blame everyone around you for the things that go wrong.
If, on the other end you take responsibility for everything, even when they are beyond your control, you won’t be blaming everyone else but blaming yourself.
This places an undue amount of stress on a person and is sure to lead to anxiety and a lack of self-worth over time.
An example of personalization might be when a person watches their sibling go through a difficult divorce. They might personalize this by thinking to themselves, ‘I knew that they weren’t right for one another. If I had said something then I could have stopped this’.
Yes, speaking up when your sibling is about to marry an idiot may have been helpful but you still have zero control over their choices.
Their decisions, wise or not, are their own and your influence in this matter is pretty miniscule.
Magic mirror on the wall, I’m telling you now that my upcoming work event is going to be a complete disaster.
Fortune telling is a form of thinking that works in tandem with the restricted thinking we spoke about earlier. If mind reading is believing that we know what someone thinks about us then fortune telling is assuming we know what someone will do or say, how an event is going to play out or what is going to happen based on very little evidence.
The other types of negative self-talk all shape a strong foundation for fortune telling to build upon. We overgeneralize and believe that one event is going play out like the other without any evidence to support it, for example.
Many of us consider ourselves to be a bit of Mystic Meg because that is how our brains work. We take the information that we know, even when it is unsubstantial, and fabricate scenarios in our heads so that we can predict our future.
It helps us to prepare for what’s to come. And that sounds great.
However, our memories have been now proven to be quite unreliable as it happens, which means our fortune telling skills aren’t great either.
Not only this but when it becomes a perpetual way of thinking we start to become convinced of the worst case scenario without questioning it.
‘I was so boring on that date. She is never going to call me back’
The end. Cut and dry. Or…
‘He’s had such a bad past experience, he is never going to propose to me’
It paints the future with a dark palette which doesn’t make it something to look forward to, does it?
Labeling oversimplifies how we describe ourselves or someone else. It’s an extreme and narrow form of description, often shone in a negative light.
We’ve all done this occasionally. You have a fight with your partner and throw some beautiful insults their way like…
‘You’re so lazy!’
‘You’re so stupid!’
Or perhaps you flip it around onto yourself. Maybe you walk offstage after a slightly less than perfect performance at the Royal Opera House and think to yourself…
From time to time every person in the history of man will use this extreme form of labeling but when it becomes a habitual mental habit it narrows our way of thinking.
We become inflexible to the bigger picture which allows us to look beyond this dead set view of ourselves or others.
HOW TO SPEAK TO YOURSELF DIFFERENTLY
If we want to make positive progress in our lives then it is irrelevant how much action you take if you speak to yourself in a negative tone of voice.
Life is uncertain, full of risks and is a constant of challenges and obstacles that we may or may not be able to overcome. However, it’s how we respond to these situations and not the situations themselves that have the biggest impact on our mental health.
Emotional resilience is key in trying to build a better life for yourself.
Why? Because life sucks. Nothing is easy and nothing worth having comes without struggle and sacrifice. So, it’s not about always being able to make the best decisions so you can avoid as many bumps in the road as possible; it’s about managing the bumps that you’re inevitably going to be faced with.
And all of this begins with your self-talk.
Berating yourself after every mistake is not helpful but forgiving yourself and learning from them certainly is.
Predicting a negative outcome based on little evidence is unhelpful but being open to the various outcomes (even if that is the possibility of being hurt) certainly is.
Fixating on your flaws and insecurities is not beneficial but addressing them and improving on them certainly is.
All of this begins with our perceptions of ourselves and how we perceive ourselves directly influences how we speak to ourselves.
Positive self-talk is perhaps the best form of self-love you could possibly practice. But before we can work on talking to ourselves better, we have to first break these bad mental habits we’ve got stuck in.
Here are four suggestions to start you off. Warning; this isn’t easy. All of the below require you to heighten your self-awareness and find the courage to address your own thoughts and this is bloody difficult.
It can be unpleasant which of course is why so many of us choose to live in denial about our behavior.
Because we might sit down one day, take a good look in the mirror and realize that we’re pretty ashamed of our actions.
Shame can stop you from doing this work but understand that the only way to relieve yourself of this is to address it.
Otherwise it will simply simmer below the surface and the chances of you having a life of mental resilience and a healthy mindset is highly unlikely. And without these two things, everything physical and external is pretty irrelevant to your happiness.
1. RAISE YOUR AWARENESS
Perhaps the hardest task of all to implement is catching your negative self-talk. You need to actively listen to the narrator in your head. What are they saying? What does the soundtrack sound like? Is it gloomy?
We’re generally not great at actively listening to our thoughts. It’s this invisible little voice inside our head that plays constantly in the background of our subconscious. We must become conscious of it.
The first step to replacing negative self-talk with positive, helpful self-talk is by recognizing when you’re speaking to yourself in this way.
What words are you using? Are you using extreme or definitive vocabulary? Is your thinking restricted? Are you only focusing on the one minor aspect of a scenario that wasn’t perfect?
Listen to your thoughts and heighten your awareness of your own vocabulary so that you can catch yourself and stop it from continuing.
2. CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS
Do not accept every thought and feeling at face value. The first thought and feeling that pops into your head is likely a gut, knee jerk reaction. That’s gravy. It tells you a lot about how you feel surrounding any given moment.
However, that doesn’t mean it is the most logical or realistic response.
Allowing our emotions to run the show will lead you down a path of spontaneous and illogical reactions. When you notice any of the negative self-talk spoken above creeping in, challenge it.
Why are you thinking like this? Is it fair?
Do you have any evidence to support your feelings…
3. FIND THE EVIDENCE
I remember that I was about to meet my partners parents for the first time and the thoughts that went through my head sounded something like this… ‘They aren’t going to like me. They’re going to think that what I do for a living is stupid or think I’m a home-wrecker. This is going to be a disaster’
Queue ‘finding the evidence’.
When you catch yourself thinking in this way start asking yourself questions. You must be judge, defender and prosecutor in this situation.
Ask yourself what evidence you have that proves that what you’re thinking is correct. What knowledge do you have that backs up your thoughts and feelings?
In this case I had absolutely no evidence, quite the contrary.
Upon reflection what I discovered is that on multiple occasions they had told my partner that they were excited to meet me. They had also said that they were so glad that he was with someone who made him happy and that they wished they had met me sooner.
This is the reality of the situation that negative self-talk would have you ignore. Challenge your negative thoughts, find the evidence.
If the evidence isn’t there then you must dismiss your thinking and be open to all possibilities.
4. THOUGHT STOPPING
It does exactly what is says on the tin!
You’ve heightened your awareness, you’ve caught your negative thoughts and now you want to stop them in their tracks.
This technique doesn’t work for everyone but I’m adding it here because it absolutely works for me. And, it’s very simple. You find a way to snap yourself out of the internal dialogue.
This can be any kind of snap like clapping your hands, tapping your forehead (or other part of your body), jumping up and down or actually yelling ‘STOP’.
Even when you’re out and about, I challenge you to confuse the hell out of someone by yelling ‘STOP’ out of nowhere in the middle of the high street. Make them as uncomfortable as you can, it really doesn’t matter if it means you stop those negative thoughts in their track.
What you’re doing here is interrupting the thought pattern.
If you’ve read other articles you’ll know that I used to hum the first four bars of the Harry Potter theme tune. It works, it really does. It’s so far removed from what I’m thinking about that it takes me immediately away from this thought pattern.
Once you’ve done this you can replace it with something that is actively positive.
5. CARE LESS ABOUT THE INSIGNIFICANT
Easier said than done but the mental health of humanity would be vastly improved if we cared a lot less about the insignificant.
What can be classed as the insignificant? Anything that is beyond your control. Anything that is external, shallow or superficial.
The opinions of others, the actions and behaviours of others, the outcome of an event or situation that cannot be managed and superficialities like money.
Focus your time and energy on living a life based on strong internal values which you can actually build upon. External values like those mentioned above only make way for disappointment.
Internal, evidence based values are those which can drastically improve your life from the inside out. Who cares what your gym teacher thinks of you, what do you think about yourself? Who cares if you can’t by branded clothing, is your life full of love?
If you can care less about the insignificant, shallow aspects of life then you can focus more on the things that matter. And, when you can do this you will find that you need a lot less and be happier with a lot less. Which also gives you a lot less things to worry about.