really awful thoughts successful

Capturing the Really Awful Thoughts (RATs) that Eat Away at Your Success

If you had a nasty rat in your house — would you feed it? Would you make a comfortable place for it to nest? Would you welcome it? Or would you TRAP IT and kill it and get it out? I hope you'd trap that Rat. Well, we all have RATs — “really awful thoughts” according to Tommy Newberry in his book The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life. Today let's talk about dealing with those thoughts, those RATs that steal our joy.

really awful thoughts successful

While most of us understand why we don't want rats in our house, many of us let RATs run around in our minds.

We feed these Really Awful Thoughts by thinking about them. We talk about them. We wake up in the night and relive them.

Small things become so big! Big things become behemoths.

9 Sources of Really Awful Thoughts

These are broken thought patterns, but don't need to break us. The first step to catching a rat is to find out where it is!

Nine RATs that attack most of us at and can steal our joy:

  1. Cynical Cyclers – always seeing the worst.
  2. Always Amplifying – using words like “always” to describe your problem.
  3. Feeling-Led Decision Makers – facts and faith should drive your life, not feelings. Feelings can lead you astray, especially when you're under a lot of pressure.
  4. Self-deceived Wishful Mind Readers (who can't read minds at all) – people who think they can read other people's minds. These people can't but are convinced they know what others are thinking. This is so harmful and can feed a person's paranoid feelings.
  5. “Drama Queen” Exaggerators – These people exaggerate and add a dramatic flair. Often, they feed gossip and are making non-existent issues into mountains with wagging tongues and hands on hips.
  6. The Paranoid Narcissist – These people think everyone is talking about them. Every look. Every word. Every sideways glance. They perceive that the whole universe not only revolves around them but has an opinion and is often out to get them. Their thinking is rarely straight.
  7. End of the World-ers – These people always think worst case scenario. What makes some of them so dangerous is not only that they think the worst will happen but some of them have a huge need to be right and so once they predict the end is near, they'll do what they can to finish off something as quickly as possible – even when the good thing can indeed survive.
  8. Pity Party People – These people not only feel sorry for themselves but want everyone else to as well. They let their thoughts be influenced by every little negative circumstance. They load up these circumstances in a pity party backpack that they can unpack at any time with small things from years ago as easily rememberable as the thing that happened just today.
  9. Glory Days Worshippers – These people worship a past that never existed. Problems were worse and good times were better. None of it is true. So, instead of living today, they continue to experience a past that is an ever growing figment of their disillusioned imagination.

All of us can fall into traps like these. That is why they are called Really Awful Thoughts or RATs. I recommend  The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life as a great book to help get your thinking on track.

Find the RATs and GET RID OF THEM!

However, in today's post as we consider excellence, I want you to ponder —

  • Are you feeding the RATs?
  • Are you nourishing those negative thoughts?
  • Are there RATs you need to trap and replace with good things?

You'd have to be sick to want to live in a rat-infested house or a RAT infested mind.

This post is day 22 of 80 days of excellence. I've created an email list below for those of you want to be emailed the full posts written as part of this series.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Deb January 26, 2018 - 8:51 am

I really appreciate this series. It is quickly becoming my daily meditation. I loved the names of the RATS. There was no sugar coating . Your descriptions made me face the music and realize how destructive and ugly these habits are.

Vicki Davis January 26, 2018 - 2:45 pm

Glad it is helpful, Deb!


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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere