THE most common daily negative thoughts adults have include ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m overweight,’ and ‘I’m not good looking’.  

A poll of 2,000 adults found they will think of things 11 times a day which will hinder their progress towards achieving their goals, with 37 per cent feeling like they are their own worst enemy.

But while 34 per cent feel they are letting themselves down, 32 per cent worry more about disappointing others.

And 34 per cent feel their own thoughts have stopped them from achieving certain aims, including finding new work (40 per cent), expressing their true feelings (38 per cent) and achieving their health goals (35 per cent).

However, maintaining a busy lifestyle, practicing mindfulness, and repeating positive affirmations were the top ways people use to stay on track with their goals and combat negative thoughts.

Andreas Michaelides, Ph.D., chief of psychology at Noom, the psychology-backed behaviour change programme which commissioned the research, said: “Negative or intrusive thoughts, otherwise known as thought distortions, will be experienced by most of the population at some point in their lives.

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“They are usually biased, exaggerated and inaccurate, and they can cause us to reach conclusions about ourselves that are not based in reality.

“The good news, however, is that it is possible to combat them.

"Learning to recognise thought distortions is the first step to unpacking their content and reframing your approach.”

Some of the most popular positive affirmations that help people combat thought distortions include ‘I am grateful for everything I have in my life,’ ‘I can do this,’ and ‘I am making progress.’

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TOP 20 NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

1.                    I don't earn enough money

2.                    I'm overweight

3.                    I'm not good looking

4.                    I wish I’d never done that

5.                    I’m not good enough

6.                    I’ll never lose the weight I want to

7.                    I'm not interesting

8.                    I look at my phone too much

9.                    I’m too old to try new things

10.                I can’t do this (task, job, workout, etc.)

11.                I'm not muscly/toned enough

12.                I’m not smart enough

13.                Nobody cares about me

14.                I’m terrible at exercising / I’ll never get fit

15.                I don't know what I'm doing

16.                I can’t do it as well as them

17.                Nothing good ever happens to me

18.                Other people have it so much better than me

19.                I’m lazy / useless

20.                I'm a failure

But other goals often left unachieved due to negative thinking include improving fitness, (29 per cent), travelling somewhere new (30 per cent) and making the leap to self-employment or starting a business (24 per cent).

When confronted with negative thoughts about themselves, only 12 per cent believe them to be true all of the time while 66 per cent only think they are true some of the time.

Recent events such as the pandemic, the unstable political climate, and the cost-of-living crisis, have led 32 per cent to experience more negative thoughts than normal.

These leave them feeling sad (34 per cent), unmotivated (34 per cent) and frustrated (33 per cent).

TOP 10 AFFIRMATIONS

I am grateful for everything I have in my life

I can do this

I am capable

I am confident

I am strong

I am taking care of myself

I tried my hardest

I am intelligent

I am making progress

I deserve it

However, 43 per cent have attempted to stop or correct negative thought patterns when they arise by changing their lifestyle or speaking with family and friends about how they’re feeling.

The study, conducted by OnePoll, found 58 per cent believed it was likely more positive thinking in their lives would help them to reach more of their personal goals.

And 56 per cent connect maintaining a healthy diet and leading a healthy lifestyle with experiencing an increase in positive thoughts.     

With 2023 on the horizon, exercising more often (28 per cent), eating healthily (28 per cent) and maintaining a positive mindset (23 per cent) are the most common new year’s resolutions for Brits.

Andreas Michaelides added: “We all have the occasional crisis of confidence, especially after facing setbacks or a stressful day.

"However, it’s important not to have an all-or-nothing reaction.

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ANDREAS MICHAELIDES’ TIPS TO COMBAT NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

Walk It Back

When you recognise a negative thought entering your mind, take a moment to walk yourself back through the chain of events that led to that thought. Are you able to identify the initial trigger?

Examining this chain of events can help you uncover patterns of behaviour that you may not have noticed before.

Once you’ve identified these triggers, you can begin to work on developing a new response that won’t lead to negative thoughts.

Separate Feelings from Facts

Remember: thoughts are not necessarily facts. It’s important we learn to separate our thoughts and feelings from facts and ask ourselves, is this true?

For example: you may say to yourself “I’m too stressed to exercise today.” If you spend some time examining your thoughts you may come to realise that you don’t want to exercise that day (which is OK!) or you may recognise that you are feeling stressed and that exercise is a proven and effective stress reliever, helping you re-evaluate your feelings from facts.

If you recognise that your thought isn’t a fact, you suddenly have more clarity on what you want to do.

Reframe Your Thoughts

Reframing your thoughts is the process of changing the context around a thought, so we can look at it differently.

This works by helping you recognise common unhelpful thoughts (‘“I haven’t exercised today, I’m useless’”) and replace them with new ideas (‘I haven’t exercised today; it’s been a tough day and that’s OK.’).

Evaluating your thoughts and ideas like this can be challenging, and at times uncomfortable, but it’s an important part of establishing positive thought patterns.

Sometimes, It Is What It Is

Radical acceptance is totally accepting your current reality as your current reality in a non-judgemental way. Ditching the critical voice in your head and not letting your emotions call the shots.

Radically accepting your current situation and how you feel about it doesn’t mean you can’t change, grow, evolve, or even reframe your feelings in the future. It simply means that what exists now is OK.

"Psychology has shown that we are much more likely to achieve our goals if we think positively, and it’s encouraging to see that almost two thirds of Brits recognise this.

"Psychological techniques as seen in Noom’s inaugural book, The Noom Mindset: Learn the Science, Lose the Weight, can help you combat negative thoughts to help you reach your goals.”

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