Our thoughts aren’t always facts

The Road To Mental Wellness > Mental Health > Our thoughts aren’t always facts

Our thoughts aren’t always facts – Do you not like yourself? If not, what evidence do you have that you’re not a good person? In this post, we help you uncover your truth

Follow us

When you think about it, our first home is the one in our heads. After all, it is the first place we learn how to walk, talk, and forge relationships with others. But it’s more than that, it is a place where we figure out who we are.

With genetics and social inputs shaping our thoughts, we morph into the person the world gets to know. None of which is more impactful than in our formative years. In our youth, there is so much to learn and depending on, let’s say, the environment we grow up in, our thoughts will shape our views of ourselves. Not only how we see ourselves but how we interact with the world. In saying that, we aren’t always good at knowing who we are.

Take the example of “I say it like it is.” Individuals who adopt this way of being often confuse this behavior for who they are. In reality, those who take pride in this communication style, often mistake it for a part of their personality.  

Mental Health Resources Centre

Not so, often those who tell the world exactly how they think are great people. Sadly, they are hurting inside. Therefore, their “tell it like it is” mantra is more likely to be a defense mechanism. Because they are people with big feelers, often highly sensitive to injustice, they mistake their response to it as who they are.

That’s why it’s important to remember that our thoughts aren’t always facts. We are often way harder on ourselves than necessary. If for instance, you don’t like who you are as a person, what evidence do you have to support your claim?

Most of us are decent, caring human beings. So, if you want to find out if what you think about yourself is true, call attention to it. Go on – try to prove that your perception of yourself is accurate.

How to tell if you’re a good person

Below is a chart where you can check off the things you like about you and the things you dislike. Check off which ones apply to you.

Author Jonathan Arenburg bravely tells his story of his life-long struggles with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Since childhood, Jonathan has found a way to not just survive, but to overcome…Join him as he tells his story, hoping to help you on your own Road To Mental Wellness Get a sneak peak of the book here Sneak Peek -The Road To Mental Wellness
What I Like About MyselfWhat I Dislike About Myself
[ ] I am compassionate towards others.[ ] I often procrastinate and struggle with time management.
[ ] I am a good listener and friend.[ ] I can be overly critical of myself and others.
[ ] I am dedicated to my goals and work hard to achieve them.[ ] I struggle with anxiety and stress management.
[ ] I am creative and enjoy expressing myself through art.[ ] I can be too self-critical and struggle with self-doubt.
[ ] I am open-minded and enjoy learning new things.[ ] I have a tendency to be indecisive and struggle with making choices.
[ ] I am honest and value integrity.[ ] I have a hard time speaking up for myself and setting boundaries.
[ ] I am empathetic and understanding of others’ perspectives.[ ] I can be quick to judge or make assumptions.
[ ] I have a good sense of humor and enjoy making others laugh.[ ] I struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
[ ] I am responsible and reliable.[ ] I have a tendency to be too hard on myself and set unrealistic expectations.
[ ] I am independent and value my alone time.[ ] I can be stubborn and resistant to change.
Figure 1;1 The left-hand side includes blank check boxes that you can use to mark which qualities you like about yourself and want to focus on, and the right-hand side includes qualities you dislike and may want to work on improving.
If you are struggling, please go here for help: Talk Suicide Canada

What I find about the people I encounter is, they acknowledge all their good qualities, like the ones on the left here, but don’t embrace them. Whereas the opposite is true with qualities on the right. They internalize them and allow them to become a part of who they think they are.

But why is this? What are the reasons why we can’t celebrate that we are in fact “honest and trustworthy?” for example.

The Negativity bias

Negative bias, also known as negativity bias, is a cognitive phenomenon where individuals tend to give greater weight and attention to negative experiences and information than positive ones. In other words, negative events, emotions, and information have a stronger impact on our thoughts, feelings, and behavior than positive ones.

Negative bias is believed to have evolved as a survival mechanism that helped our ancestors to detect and respond to potential threats in their environment. The ability to quickly recognize and respond to danger was critical for survival, and therefore negative information was given greater importance and attention.

However, in modern times, this bias can lead to negative thinking patterns, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. For example, a person may dwell on a negative comment they received all day, while dismissing multiple compliments they received from others. This can lead to low self-esteem, decreased motivation, and an overall negative outlook on life.

And…. You probably guessed it, our innate lean towards negative thinking can produce a lie about ourselves like: “I hate who I am.” And thereby proving our thoughts aren’t always facts.

Read Some great posts from Our Writers

Negative bias can also impact decision-making, as individuals may be more likely to focus on potential negative outcomes rather than positive ones. This can lead to risk aversion, reluctance to try new things, and missed opportunities.

To counteract negative bias, it is important to consciously focus on positive experiences, practice gratitude, and challenge negative thoughts through cognitive-behavioral techniques such as reframing and thought stopping. Seeking support from a mental health professional can also be helpful in developing coping strategies and changing negative thought patterns.

Essentially, we have social learning, genetics, evolution, and ancient origins that can prioritize the negative. So, if you want to dispel the negative notions in your head, you have to teach yourself that you are a good person.

How to accept that you are a good person.

As mentioned above, there are many reasons why our thoughts aren’t always facts. Moreover, I have included some ways to overcome our false perceptions of the self. Like cognitive reframing for example. With that said, here are some questions that may help:

Questions to ask yourself (get your pen and paper ready)

A. What evidence do I have that I am actually a bad person?

B. What qualities make a good person and how many of those good qualities do I have?

C. Does hating to tell someone no, for example, really an indication that I am not a good person? What is really behind not wanting to say no to others? Ie. Is it fear of conflict, fear of being disliked?

D. Are the negative thoughts I have, like that in figure 1:1 really personality traits? Do they define me as a person, or am I allowing them to produce inaccurate feelings that mask who I really am?

F. Knowing that our thoughts aren’t always facts, is it possible that I am wrong about me being a bad person? Moreover, can the possibility exist that you are a good person and if so, what are those things that make you a good person?

Additionally, you may find it helpful to write a list of the following

What Makes a Person a Good Person?What Qualities in Column A Do I Also Have?
figure 1:2 a sample of what I think can be helpful, simply add as many rows to your list as you need.
What Can I Do to Enhance My Good Qualities?What Can I Do to Improve the Things I Dislike About Myself?
Figured 1:3 A sample exercise that allows you to come up with ways to enhance your good qualities and improve upon the ones you dislike. Again, make as many rows as you need.

The good news

Odds are, you have less reason to dislike yourself and more reason to give yourself permission to say, “I am a good person.” So, go ahead, get to know the kind and caring person you really are and watch yourself transform into a better, stronger, and happier you.

Our thoughts aren’t always facts – copyright 2023

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
Want to get the complete Audiobook version Free! Go to our Homepage and use the Scriber form to receive our newsletter. Boom the book is yours.

Follow us

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

One thought on “Our thoughts aren’t always facts

Please leave a comment and tell us what you liked about what you read.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.