Ralph Waldo Emerson, an important American writer, once said “You are what you think”. It’s true. Negative thoughts only produce more negative thoughts. Arguing with them doesn’t work. Telling yourself not to think them only makes them stronger. (Not thinking about something is thinking about it!) But you can change how you think.
One of the basic skills taught in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is “cognitive restructuring”. Cognitive Restructuring is a step by step process for changing your thoughts. Very simply, it goes like this:
1) Keep a journal for a few days of all your negative thoughts. Take notes about where you are, who you are with, what’s going on, etc. this is important information.
2) Analyze your information. You may find that certain situations are more likely to produce negativity than others.
3) Look at instances where your thinking is “black and white”. If, for example, you tell yourself that you always fail at something, think of times when you didn’t fail. Write them down!
4) Replace negative thoughts with the contrary information. For example, if you think “I always fail at work”, remind yourself of times when you did a good job.
This will take time and practice. So practice, practice, practice. You have years of negative thinking to undo, so it will take a while to change it. Many people find that having the help and support of a therapist makes the process more efficient.
I also urge you to go on the internet and research ways to transform negative thinking into positive thinking. It’s often reassuring to know you’re not alone in a problem. It’s often helpful to chat with others who are dealing with the same issues.
You are only 18. I’m very, very glad that you’ve identified this as a problem and that you want to fix it. You deserve the time and effort it takes to turn your thinking around so that you can have a long and successful life without constantly worrying about being failure.
I wish you well,