AMANDA ZAYDE, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
Many of us know about the importance of setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relatable, time-sensitive). SMART goals are important because when we set fitness goals that are unrealistic, we are more likely to give up! Further, SMART goals eliminate guesswork and provide you with a sense of direction and structure.
However, many of us also probably know that you can set the most brilliant SMART goal possible and still not feel particularly motivated or you may feel pressure to follow through on goals that just aren’t healthy for your body. These are the moments when we want to take a look at how our thought patterns are affecting our behavioral patterns. How often are you paying attention to your self-talk? Would you talk to a loved one the way you talk to yourself? (STOP. Don’t keep reading until you’ve genuinely thought that last question through).
If we take a closer look at what we’re thinking, we’re in a better position to shift how we’re feeling and what actions we’re taking – including following through on the steps to achieve our fitness goals, as well as tolerating recovery following an injury. Many of the thought traps that we fall into are automatic, which means you will have to be pretty mindful in order to become more aware of them, and ultimately, find evidence to dispute them.
Following are just a few examples of sneaky thought traps that can serve to intensify negative emotions and interfere with motivation or proper recovery.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking: This thought often comes along with the words always, never, or every – there is no middle ground.
“I always do a bad job on everything!”
- Filtering: With this thought, you magnify the negative aspects of a situation but filter out all of the positive aspects.
“They were only nice to me because they had to be.”
- Jumping to Conclusions: With this thought, you imagine you know what someone is thinking, or you predict the future, with no actual evidence.
“I know they think I’m the slowest runner ever so I’m just not going to go.”
- Catastrophizing: A fan favorite! This one involves imagining the worst possible case scenario, which, you know, is always super helpful.
“I’m injured and I can’t run for three months, this is going to be a complete disaster.”
- Should Statements: The belief that things, yourself, or others “should” be a certain way.
“I should be able to be more disciplined!”
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar? Here are some strategies you can use to become more mindful and to send your thought traps packing. Let me know how it goes!
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- What else might be possible?
- If you saw a friend struggling, what would you say to them?
To learn more about Dr. Amanda Zayde, please visit her website.