By Monica Patel

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” — August Wilson

How many times have you noticed yourself letting the sadness of a negative thought become buried until the next time something triggers it?

We all have inner desires that somedays we may feel inadequate about. In a society with a suffocating presence of social media, it has become easier to let our inner demons take over We are constantly thinking about the way we shouldbe, the way we shouldlook, or what stage of life we shouldbe in. It’s like it’s a constant reminder that you have some sort of unfinished goal.

Most of our negative thoughts spring from ourselves. We are our own worst critic. Our thoughts and mental events create disturbance and chaos in our lives. It is okay, and quite frankly necessary, to realize that there are aspects of your life that need improvement. We allhave room for growth. Even those people that you may think “have their life together.” There is a societal notion that if you are having negative thoughts, you shouldn’t be and thus its instinctual to immediately deem these thoughts as badand inferiorand unwanted.This categorizing of thoughts into good and bad thoughts leads to ignoring of what really caused this thought. Whydo I feel like a failure when exams roll around? Whydo I feel poorly when I am around this person or these groups of people? We can learn a lot about ourselves and fight our demons by giving ourselves permission to deal with the sourceof our unhappiness. We no longer have to put these thoughts away. We no longer have to suppress these thoughts. We are allowed to feel them just as much as we are allowed to feel positive thoughts.

So, how exactly do we battle these thoughts?

  1. Here is one of the best pieces of advice about fighting through negative thoughts I’ve gotten: Some negative thoughts may never go away. We may always feel nervous and be afraid we won’t do well on an exam. We may always feel nervous giving a speech because of the fear of messing up. We may feel confident with ourselves most days but have days where we notice those things that need some growth. However, what WILLchange is the power that these thoughts have. One day, the light will overpower the darkness and these thoughts will just be that…thoughts. They may come and go but they won’t hold the same importance in your mind. It won’t controlyour life and be a source of pain and chaos.
  2. One of the things that works for me is to the rip the band aid and write exactly the thing that is making you feel a certain emotion. For example, if you are feeling negative thoughts about your body, take a sheet of paper and write, “I am feeling negative thoughts about my stomach.” It sounds so harsh and so difficult to do, but it allows this thought to come to our conscious awareness. Then, write why you think you may be feeling this thought. Is it because you just saw an Instagram model post a workout picture? Or is it because you think person x won’t find you attractive if you don’t have rock hard abs? Or maybe it’s just something you feel and you have no idea where it stems from. Maybe you have been feeling this thought for so long you don’t even remember why or how it came to be so overpowering. Write it down. Write down exactly what you feel. Then, write down one solid thing you can and will do to let this thought have less control. Will you limit your social media usage or remind yourself that social media is a highlight reel? Whether it’s a change in mindset or an actual step you’re taking, there will always be something to do to help these unwanted thoughts. They no longer need a home in your mind.
  3. Stop apologizing. If you are a chronic apologizer, you know exactly what I am talking about. I’m not saying don’t apologize for things that warrant an apology. However, stop apologizing for standing up for yourself. Stop apologizing for “talking too much.” Stop apologizing for having emotions. Stop apologizing for not performing your absolute best because you had a bad day or a bad week. This constant apologizing can internally make us feel like we are doing something wrong, that we have to constantly explain who we are to other people. For me, it makes me feel like shit. It’s a crummy feeling on the inside and a constant cycle of blaming ourselves and feeling inadequate. Just remember, you don’t owe the world an apology.
  4. Lastly, be kind and patient with yourself. When you allow these thoughts to come to your conscious awareness, you may feel a spectrum of emotions. It is not an easy process and takes lots of trial and error. You will find something that works for you (:

So, show up. Claim your right to exist. We’re not here to apologize for being ourselves, to hide our brilliance, or to shy away from what makes us unique.

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