You know not to think the obvious kinds of negative thoughts. Thoughts like “I am not as smart as my counterparts” or “I can’t…” Those are easily identified as thoughts to remove from your mental diet. Here are 3 other kinds of ‘empty calories’ thoughts. Cut them out immediately!

1. Unanswerable questions – When things aren’t going your way, you often ask an unanswerable question, such as Why don’t things work out for me? or Why does it look so easy for the guy who sits next to me? or Why doesn’t the person in operations get back to me?

You ask these questions but you are not actually looking for the answers. What you really want is progress on your situation. When you say to yourself, Why don’t things work out for me, it causes you to dwell on what’s not working, and it doesn’t set you up to get information you could implement to make things go differently for you. Better to ask a constructive question, like: “What is one behavior I see the guy next to me doing that I could do today?” Instead of staying stuck on why he can pick up the phone and you can’t, ask him what he says to himself before he picks up the phone.

2. Future worries about what someone else will do – When you have a thought about someone else, require the thought to be about what you will enjoy about them or the value you will bring to them. Too often when you are thinking about other people you have the thought, “What will my boss think?” “What will my colleagues think?” “What will my wife think?” etc. Its associated with a fear-inducing picture in your mind about a future response you might get from them. Don’t allow yourself to have future thoughts about other people unless you are able to also enjoy the thought in the moment (for example, I’m planning a special surprise for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary this weekend. I confess I have been thinking about what their response is going to be, but its associated with an excited smile. BTW, I can’t share the surprise with you because sometimes they read my blogs…).

3. Open loop thoughts – Remove thoughts that desire change unless you are willing and ready to make that change. Examples are: I know I should start looking for another position or I know I should do more social media marketing — but you don’t have a plan to get started and aren’t even committed to start the process. It keeps you in conflict with yourself. Either make a commitment, talk to at least one person who could give you advice to get started, or else take off the pressure and guilt, and revisit the intention when you are ready to act on it.

To help you on your diet, you want to remove those thoughts that have been stuck in your mind accumulating cobwebs. Try this breathing technique, consider it the mental equivalent of a ‘fat flush’. It will help to clear out negative memories and stuck or depressing thoughts.

Use this “Mental Diet Breath” daily: Breathe in 4x rapidly through your nose. Exhale forcefully 1x through your mouth. Repeat this pattern without stopping, do it at the fastest pace you are able to do it. Start with up to one minute and work your way up to 3 minutes a day.

If you know that you need tools for a mindset reboot, I have a special opportunity for you to get Confidence at the Core (and a private consultation with me at no charge). If you are interested in finding out more about the opportunity, go to

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. is a business psychologist dedicated to helping talented and successful businesspeople ‘get out of their own way’. Her practical tools are informed by 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School, field tested by over 3000 training participants and applied by hundreds of coaching clients to quickly be more effective, productive, and influential. She is a leading authority in helping business professionals move to the next level and be secure about their contribution in insecure times. /