If someone were to ask, “Is there a magic pill that will make me happy?” I wish I could answer, “YES, take this everyday and your life will automatically change for the better!” However, there are many factors to consider when it comes to happiness; what makes one happy does not necessarily mean it will work for another.

I primarily work with women who struggle with eating disorders and there are many things I recommend to my clients. The irony, however, is how the things that create negative mindsets is believed by many of my clients to help them reach a happier-self.  This snare is a tough one to break away from, but I believe that if women are made more aware of this trap they could get out of the negative mindset and ineffective behaviors, sooner rather than later.  There are many thinking errors that contribute to negativity. I’m going to discuss a few of them that I feel are straightforward and will result in quick positive changes.

 Avoid Absolutes

Many of my clients are unaware of just how hard they are on themselves and how often they set themselves up into panic mode without even trying to. And these individuals are not alone.  Unfortunately, we can slip into polarized-thinking quite quickly. We see things as black or white, all or nothing, which creates so much pressure and anxiety. This thinking error leaves no room for moderation, trial and error, or wiggle room to grow.  Added pressure to do things perfectly sets up a dichotomy of “I am amazing” or “I stink.”  As humans we are not perfect and therefore we can slip from “I’m okay” to “I’m horrible” very quickly. It could be as little as a few words in speech that could make the difference. The most common culprits are these nine small words.

  • Always
  • Never
  • No one
  • Nothing
  • Everyone
  • Everything
  • Anything
  • Anyone
  • So

Using these absolutes promote feelings of anxiety.  I often teach my clients to be a “cop to themselves” to stop using these words in their self-talk and in conversations with others. For example, I commonly hear clients express, “I am NEVER going to like my body.” That thought feels heavy and leaves little to no room for hope. If you take out “never” the thought isn’t as extreme and sounds something like this: “I am currently not happy with my body.” Although still realistic, this sentence sounds less absolute, and much more hopeful.

Another one I hear frequently is, “NOTHING is working, and I am ALWAYS going to be bigger than EVERYONE else.” Can you see how these small words can create such despair and insurmountable anxiety? Removing absolutes from our speech keeps things more realistic and less paralyzing. It is exhausting to think there is no way out, which is why so many fall into captivity of self-hate.

Staying away from just these nine words can assist in reading life circumstances more accurately.  It will also encourage better self-dialogue which in turn creates a happier self.  A friendly reminder to consider is, “Practice does not make perfect, but it can make things better.”