9 Thoughts That Steal Your Joy


These R. A. T.s (Really Awful Thoughts) can wreak havoc on your mental state. Here's how to identify them so you can overcome them!

When you find yourself emotionally low, you can be pretty sure that you’ve been dwelling on what’s not working. In this low state, your mind plays tricks on you. It is very important to start noticing your emotions and how they spiral quickly upward or downward.

Some negative thoughts stand out more than others. These “really awful thoughts,” or RATs for short, terrorize your potential for joy. Keep in mind that these RATs highlight crooked thinking patterns, not crooked people.

See if you can relate to any of these:

Amplifiers magnify unpleasant situations with recurrent use of extreme words like always, never, no one and every time. Virtually nothing in life falls in that excessive category. Frequently, these amplifiers show up in marriage and parenting. Aside from being distortions, these statements cause everyone involved to plummet below the joy zone.

Feelers, or negative emotions that are actually a simple distortion of the truth, sometimes reveal a deficiency in yourself or someone else. Sometimes it is not objective, and it reflects the quality of your thinking more than it does the quality of your life experience. Though feelings are important, they are no substitute for the truth!

Guessers pretend they know what other people are thinking and then they assume the worst ahead of time. This often triggers an emotional response from the other person, which in turn gets you defensive. This kicks off a cycle that isn’t very joyful.

Exaggerators transform mole hills into mountains with trigger words like horrible, worst, ruined, shocked, devastated, stunned and outraged. I like to think of this as “Awfulizing” or “Drama Queen Syndrome.”

Identifiers inject harmless events with personal meaning. They overestimate how the event is related to them. They take things too personally and interpret negative events as personal attacks.

Forecasters predict the worst-case scenario, often aloud and usually before they event get started participating in an activity, solving a problem or engaging in an important conversation.

Cynics have a knack for finding something wrong, even if it is the only thing wrong. Despite the good, they use their mental radar to see the bad. Because there’s always going to be some degree of bad stuff, cynics will forever be able to justify their viewpoint. Their reward is that they get to be more miserable.

Blamers point the finger at someone else for their own problems, even though it’s rare that problems are caused entirely by someone else. As the opposite of responsibility, blame is so popular it temporarily liberates you. It gives you a short-term emotional fix. You feel better for the time being. However, blaming others is ultimately immobilizing. It holds you back and cuts the legs right out from under your full potential for joy. Blame is like an emotional, dirty bomb.

Justifiers remind themselves of all the reasons why they are entitled to this negative emotion or that negative outburst. Losing sight of their vision, justifiers are advocates for their own negativity. It manifests in language like, “If you only knew what he did” or “I deserve to be upset.”

Not exactly this stuff joy is made of, is it?

How many times have you thought to yourself : “WHEN this one thing happens (a better job, a better marriage, losing weight) life will be better and I’ll have more joy.”? But the truth is this: When you’re intentional about living life with joy, you have a better life! Joy is not the destination; it’s the path.

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