Filling in the Blanks
If you’re anything like me, you take things personally. Whether it’s being ignored by someone you are trying to talk to, someone having a bad attitude around you, or even something as simple as somebody “giving you a look”.
So you sent a text to someone and it’s been a whole day but they still haven’t answered? It must be completely your fault right? The truth is, no, not necessarily. As much as you may think it’s your fault, consider this: maybe their phone didn’t notify them, maybe they thought they replied but forgot to press send, maybe their phone broke or is dead… Any of those things (and potentially many others!) could be the case for all we know.
Our minds fill in the blanks. When there’s that uncertainty, or there hasn’t been a resolution, our mind magically tries to make sense of a situation for us, and for me personally, this has been proven time and time again. I know that for my own wellness, I need to check myself when I start having these thoughts. For example, I was talking to a friend the other night, and they just stopped answering. Immediately, my mind went to “What did I do wrong? Did I say something wrong? Do they not like me anymore? How do I fix this?” and I allowed that to ruin my night, because the human mind tries it’s best to create logical reasons for everything that we experience in a day. In these instances, I’ve found it more helpful to take a step back and think critically instead of jumping to the conclusions. Instead of allowing my mind to “fill in the blanks” and causing myself to feel trapped inside of these negative thought cycles, I need to take a step back and keep these negative thoughts in check. If any of you reading this have similar negative thought cycles and find that you often blame yourself or jump to worst case scenarios before taking a moment to pause and check yourself, I would strongly encourage you to give this a try!
Instead of “Did I say something wrong?” Try to pause for a minute. Reflect and realize that someone's response or lack thereof doesn’t necessarily indicate that you did anything “wrong.”
Instead of “Do they not like me?” Try: “They’ve been my friend for years now and have helped me through a lot, why would they do that if they didn’t like me?”
Instead of “How do I fix this?” Try “Hold on, there’s nothing to fix! They would tell me if I did something wrong.”
Keeping thoughts in check is key in moving towards happiness. Challenge thoughts you have and don’t believe everything you think! It’s okay to coach yourself and tell yourself: “Okay, so this is a thought. Why is this a thought?” Too often we allow these intrusive negative thoughts into our minds, without confronting them. What evidence do we have to think in this way? One way that has helped me to reframe and confront my negative thoughts is to ask myself whether this is my thought, or is this just a thought? I’m going to leave you with a quote I love by Michael Neill that really sums up exactly what I’m trying to explain, and I really hope you are able to reflect on it.
“Just because you have a thought in your head, doesn’t mean it’s your thought. It doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean it’s actually what you think, it just means you have a thought in your head.” - Michael Neill
Sending positive vibes, I wish you all well, and I genuinely hope you’re doing awesome!
Aidan P. Abate
Youth Peer Support Specialist
Youth MOVE New Hampshire