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Mental Health

Help: I'm Having a 'Mean Girls' Moment!

Help: I'm Having a 'Mean Girls' Moment!


Having mean thoughts? Wishing someone else would get HIV? Here's how to combat those moments of negativity.

Last week I was hanging out with a friend who is HIV-negative. He was telling me about a guy he hooked up with, and while he was talking, this really mean thought went through my head: 'Why is he still HIV-negative when he’s having all those hook-ups?' And I realized I was kind of hoping he ends up having to deal with HIV like I have to. I don’t think I’m a mean person but maybe I am. What do you think? 

Our minds can come with all manner of thoughts, some of them kind, some of them unkind and sometimes with accompanying images that are downright disturbing. But there they are. Looks like your mind conjured up one of those mean thought for you. 

Instead of labeling yourself a mean person, here’s what you can do the next time one of those negative thoughts pops into your mind:

Accept that you are human. Having mean thoughts doesn’t mean that you are a mean person. That’s just how the human mind works sometimes. So don’t beat yourself up. Instead, give yourself a break and tell yourself: “Okay, I’m human. That was just another reminder.”   

Find the humor. Talk back to your mean thought with humor. Humor produces those feel-good hormones that can drown out angry thoughts and feelings. Note to self: “Wow, that was a mean thought. Mean! Mean! Mean! Now go away.” And then chase it away with a smile, and maybe even a laugh. 

Show yourself some compassion. Here’s an idea: Remind yourself of who you really are. Think, "I’m glad I’m not the kind of person who would dwell or act on a thought like that.” And if mean thoughts are coming to you on an especially rough day, remind yourself that you are dealing with a lot, and doing the best you can. 

Do some well wishing.  One powerful antidote for a poisonous thought is to send mental words of kindness toward the person you had the mean thought about. After all, we are all facing our own challenges in life, whether they are clear to us in that moment or not. Silently wish the person the best with whatever they are dealing with in life. You can even use your mean thought as a reason to be kind. Counter that bad karma by smiling and saying a few friendly words.    

Identify the message behind those mean thoughts. Over the years, I’ve learned that mean thoughts can be our mind’s way of telling us there may be something going on that we need to address. Maybe you’re working too hard and not taking time to rest. Or slipping up on your self-care. Maybe you’ve been pushing away some other feelings you don’t want to face up to, like sadness or worry or jealousy. Or maybe there’s something you need to do that you’ve been avoiding. Take a step back and look at what’s going on in your life. This may provide a hint as to what may be causing all those mean thoughts. And then you can address it.    

Show yourself some kindness. Compassion starts on the inside and works its way out. If you’re having mean thoughts about other people, you may also be having mean thoughts about yourself. So take a look at your self-talk. Give yourself words of encouragement. If you think kindly of yourself, you’ll be that much more likely to think kindly of others as well. We’re all in this together. 

Here’s a way to look at mean thoughts: You don’t have to like your thoughts. But you also don’t have to be your thoughts. Each mean thought is an opportunity to change course and think or act out of kindness. Now, that’s the person you really are!




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Gary McClain