I often get down on myself, thinking I’m lazy and boring, for example. I know it’s not healthy, but how can I stop?

You’re already off to a good start at changing the story your brain is telling you because you’ve noticed the negative thoughts. Sometimes we so quickly accept whatever we think as true, that we don’t stop to acknowledge that they are just thoughts–not necessarily true ones. 

The next step is to look for supporting evidence. What makes you say you’re lazy? Where is the proof? Maybe it’s because you sat down to read instead of staining the deck.

Now look for evidence that your thought isn’t true. Maybe you arrived at work early to prepare for and lead an important meeting for a colleague who had a family emergency, and at lunch you took your mother to an appointment. After work, you stopped by the grocery store, cooked a five-course meal, did the dishes, and changed the oil in the car after dinner. Then you fell exhausted onto the couch before you stained the wood deck. 

Build the muscles to recognize negative thoughts, look for proof and reframe them.

If you still think you’re lazy, consider what you would say to a friend who had just lived through that day and believes that she’s lazy. 

Now that you have all the evidence, reframe your thought: “I didn’t get to everything on my to-do list, but I got a lot done! Maybe my expectations weren’t very realistic.”

It takes work to recognize negative thoughts, look for proof, and then reframe them. But it’s like building muscle. The more you do it, the better you get. Good luck!