Your thoughts are holding you back.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Negative thoughts

Unhelpful negative thoughts.
Photo courtesy of

How many of these unhelpful thoughts do you have?

Some thoughts can help you get things done, others can hold you back.

If you regularly have any of those unhelpful thoughts they may be undermining your progress. Identifying your unhelpful thoughts and working on changing them can result in a much better life.

Do you ever have these thoughts?

You expect the worst.

If you habitually, always, expect the worse, you may find that no matter what happens you see the worst in it. Believing that bad things are sure to happen is a cognitive bias that results in being quick to spot the problems in life but prevents you from seeing the good.

Shift your focus.  Learn to look for the positive and you will discover that there are a lot of good things that have escaped your attention.

You expect the lead in every play.

It is all about you? If something goes wrong do you think it is your fault? If and when it fails, do you believe that says something about you? Just because people laugh when you enter a room does not mean they are laughing at you.

This unwavering thought, that what happens is all about you, puts a lot of pressure on you and in the end, you will find yourself unable to do everything.

Accept that much of what happens is about others and has nothing to do with you.

People are out to get you.

Some people do have enemies, that is true. But if everywhere you go everyone seems out to get you then you are misinterpreting a lot of facts. Most people are not motivated by trying to “get you” they are too busy with their own life. It is only when you make a habit of getting between them and their goals that they may have it in for you. The best way to avoid these results is to get out of their way, that or be so far ahead of them they can’t see you up ahead.

One other possibility, along the way you have harmed enough people so that you have created the truth in that there out to get you thought.

That belief that people are out to get you is a cognitive distortion. In severe cases this is paranoia. Truth is that most of the time, most of us are just not that important to others.

The future will be bad.

This thought is sure to doom you to a life of failure and misery. The single most important thing in creating a happy life is the attitude that having the life you want is possible. Hope is the thing that helps you bounce back from being knocked down. Hope is the resiliency factor.

If you have lost hope look for it anywhere you can find it.

You insist things go according to plan.

Having a plan is good. Expecting that things always go according to your plan is setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Leave room in your planning for the unexpected. Planning is a valuable process. Insisting that things must follow your plan leaves you unable to cope with the unexpected.

You keep waiting for the perfect time.

There may be no such thing as the perfect time for anything. Waiting for the perfect time robs you of the only time you will ever be able to start working on this project – now. If you put off action until some future time you may be unprepared when that time comes.

If there are real reasons to wait to take action make sure you are learning and practicing the skills you will need when that time comes. Begin by taking small steps in your desired direction and see how much closer you will be when the appointed time does arrive.

You do not believe in taking risks.

Life is risks. Doing nothing is a risk. Doing anything is a risk. Why not take the risk of doing something worth the effort? There are no sure things. That’s why we buy insurance, to protect us from losses when the unexpected happens.

Learn to evaluate risks. Take those risks where the results will be worth the risks.

You do not want to be different.

Everyone is different in their own way. Want to accomplish something in life? You are required to take risks and to be different. Average and same do not get noticed. Being the same as everyone else is a sure way to set yourself up for a bland life.

You are afraid to change your mind.

Only a real fool continues to insist they are right despite mounting evidence they have made an error. If you stick to a failed plan and continue to argue about your rightness you lose the opportunity to change direction and head in a new better direction.

Admit your errors and learn from them. Adjust your efforts. Errors are not the end of your options, they are only improvement opportunities.

You are afraid you will be taken advantage of.

Someone may get something from you. That is called a bargain. Learn to check out as many of the facts as possible and then take a risk. The only way to have good things happen is to do things and take chances. Avoiding risks is avoiding all the possible good things that may well happen to the ones who risk big.

The reason most people are taken advantage of? They are expecting to get something from the other person that they have not earned. That old saying “you can’t con an honest person” contains a lot of truth.

You are afraid to say no.

Saying yes to everything leaves you stretched too far and unable to do things you want to do. You do not have to do everything everyone wants you to do. Say no; just make sure your no’s are really no. Not saying no leaves others in control of your life.

You are afraid to say yes.

Not saying yes to things can be even more harmful than not saying no. We often miss out on things that could have been beneficial and pleasurable because we were afraid to say yes to an opportunity. If opportunity is knocking you have to answer the door.

Nothing good ever happens to you.

Believing nothing good can or will happen in your life leaves you blind to the opportunities all around you. Look for the things that are ungood and you will not grab the good things when they are right in front of you.

Have you fallen into the habit of practicing these unhelpful thoughts? Are you ready to get your habitual, automatic, thoughts overhauled?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at


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