Do you get mad or feel like a failure when you aren’t perfect?

Do you find yourself comparing yourself to strangers?

Do other people make things look “easy”?

One of the features of our modern life is that we are surrounded by images, people, and things all signaling to us the many ways we’re getting it “wrong.” Feeling like you’re not measuring up is not only un-fun, it’s not good for you. While wanting to be a better version of ourselves is a key part of motivation, there’s a big difference between striving for incremental progress and beating yourself up for being human. Negative self-talk and perfectionism can prevent us from accessing other motivation, like being proud of progress we’ve made. Here are four ways to combat invasive negative thoughts.

Your thoughts are just another way to make healthy choices

You go to the gym and try to eat well to maintain your body. Don’t forget that your mind is a part of your body, too. Being “mindful” is not just about being present and noticing your external surroundings, it’s also important to pay attention to what’s going on inside your head. Just like you can choose between fries and a side salad, you can make healthy choices for your mental health. Whether that’s finding time to meditate, or practicing forgiveness and self-love, try to recognize your healthy and unhealthy thoughts. Just like with nutrition, it’s not one big choice, but many small choices that make positive change. Choosing to give attention to healthy versions of your thoughts has a positive cumulative effect.

Talk to yourself as you would your best friend

If you’re a good friend, you probably celebrate the success of those close to you. You wouldn’t tell someone you love that a hard-won achievement was no big deal or short of the mark. So why do you tell these things to yourself? While an honest self-assessment is good accountability, try not to turn constructive criticism into a beating. Being able to acknowledge momentum as we are working toward goals is good, and too much negativity can make us give up. Be supportive of your own progress.

Limit what you “like”

Social media is great! It provides a way to connect with people, stay on top of current events, and find inspiration. But it has a dark side. The presentations of people we see on social media can be glossy and superficial. Too much consumption of these carefully designed and curated images is not helpful if you want to keep realistic expectations. A picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes thousands of dollars. Carefully applied makeup, extra lighting, custom-fit clothes, hundreds of photos, digital manipulation—real-life fitness success never looks so airbrushed. You have the power to choose what to look at. If something you’re following tends to make you feel bad about yourself, opting out is as simple as the click of a button.

Accept the evolution of your journey

Before-and-after photos tend to make us think that there is a beginning and end to getting healthy. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t stop needing exercise and good food once we reach a weight or fitness goal. The best fit lifestyle for us today may not be the same as it will be ten years from now. Even if we could be the best version of our current selves, we can’t change where we are in time.

Do you have strategies to counter intrusive negative thoughts? Let us know in the comments.