Dani Kam, Content Writer at Noom
Remember when I told you that I’m an expert in bad moods? Well, I’m also an expert in having negative thoughts. Lethal combo, I know. And while I go to therapy and take medicine to help combat these intrusive ideas, I’ve also created some of my own techniques to cope. So, when a thought that is so heinous enters the chat, I use these tactics to kick it offline.
1. “I’m a fraud.”
If you’ve never had a bout of imposter syndrome, hello, how are you, can I interest you in switching brains? Imposter syndrome—and the intense feeling of doubt that comes along with it—is, dare I say, one of the worst experiences available to humankind. Because no matter how talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, and spectacular you are, your mind will try to convince you otherwise. Your mind doesn’t give a hoot nor a holler that you earned your doctorate in neuroscience. In fact, it’ll make you believe that you graduated out of sheer luck. Ha! This type of thinking has shown up a lot in both my personal and professional life. Anything from “they’re just friends with me because they feel bad for me” to “I only got that job interview because they must’ve misread something on my resume” goes. So, to combat feeling like a fraud, I keep lists. Specifically, lists of nice things my friends have done for me, or lists of the work I do or have done at any given job, so that I can easily refer back to these truths that are rooted in reality. And if all else fails? I text a friend or my mom to remind me that I am, in fact, awesome. *flips hair*
2. “People will judge me.”
Speaking in front of a group of people is my personal nightmare. I’m constantly concerned that I’m going to say something dumb or be caught off guard while I’m thinking about what my next meal is going to be. But the truth is, no one really cares if I ramble or if I ask someone to repeat their question—everyone is worried about themselves. Especially on Zoom—I remind myself that people are literally only looking at themselves in those tiny little squares to make sure they don’t have boogers or spinach in their teeth. Even if they are listening, they’re most likely thinking about the next thing they’re going to say. Since other people are also worried about being judged, that takes about 80-90% (this is a factual statistic) of their brainpower away from judging me. Math, we love to see it.
3. “I’ll never be as successful or (insert literally any other adjective here) as them.”
The internet is both my favorite and least favorite place on earth. Favorite because, well, memes. And least favorite because of comparison. Every time I scroll, I’m constantly inundated with someone else’s beauty, my high school nemesis’ “amazing life,” my ex-boyfriend’s lavish vacation, or my old coworker’s next accomplishments. And, yes, good for them and everything, but also? Seeing this makes me feel like raw brussels sprouts taste. It’s natural to think: “why not me?” or “why is everyone moving ahead while I’m stagnant?” So, when I feel myself start to become my own troll, I say “comparison is the thief of joy” outloud. Because it is. There will always be someone who is more [insert here] than you, and there will always be someone who is less [insert here] than you. But guess what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because not everyone is competing for the same things. We’re all on our own paths. What my acquaintance from high school does with her three kids this weekend is of no significance to my life as I spend my Saturday from my bed ordering a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. That influencer I follow who is posting bikini pics from the beaches of Dubai? No match for the pics I just took of the new colony of pimples that have formed on my chin. Net-net: everyone’s at a different place in life, and that’s what makes each of us unique.
4. “I look horrible in this.”
Again, I suspect that social media is a huge culprit for feeling like I don’t look good in things. (Hey, comparison: eat glass!) I could also write an entire dissertation on being a woman and having bodily expectations thrown onto her from society, unsolicited—magazines, Barbie, and Disney princesses, I’m looking at you. But, I digress. It would be easy for me to tell you that if I look in the mirror and immediately want to break it, I just tell myself that my worth doesn’t lie in my appearance. And, it’s true, it doesn’t. But when I’m feeling less-than-confident in a given moment, saying that just makes me feel like the caricature of a millennial woman practicing body positivity. Instead of shaming myself for not looking the way I think I should, I have a few feel-good outfits that I keep accessible at all times. Feeling like nothing that I try on feels comfortable? No worries, I have my trusty Levis and black shirt that make me feel like an off-duty model. Feeling less-than-confident in my crop top? All good, I have a leather jacket that makes me look and feel confident but also like Danny Zucko.
5. “They’re mad at me.”
Have you ever thought “[fill in the blank] is mad at me” despite having zero evidence? If not, welcome to my brain about 23/7—take your coat off, make yourself comfortable, can I get you anything? While in my heart of hearts I know it isn’t exactly rational, once my mind sees even a glimmer of someone’s perceived anger, it spins into another dimension. It can be set off by anything really—a text gone unanswered for more than a few hours, a “yep” response instead of a “yes!,” a hilarious joke I made that doesn’t get a laugh. You get the idea. So while I’d like to call my therapist and wax poetic about how Alex, Rachel, Carly, or Sarah are positively, without a doubt, most definitely mad at me—she has other clients. So I’ve learned to self-soothe. When I’m headed into a category 5 storm of anxiety, I take a breath and ask myself what cold, hard evidence I have. Did I actually do something offensive? Nope. Did they tell me they were mad at me? Also no. Did they tell someone else they were mad at me? Nah. In the past, have they gotten mad at this action? Negative. By the time I go through this list, I realize that it’s most likely made up in my head, and if not, we’ll get through it because we’ve been through worse—oh, gotta go, my friend who I thought was mad at me just texted back.