How to Challenge Negative Thoughts & Depression

Depression

Don't let negative thoughts cripple you. - Image via Wikipedia

I read an amazing article on PsychCentral.com discussing a personification of depression that I found intriguing.  The article, entitled “Depression’s Secret Plan for Your Identity” (excellent title, which made me click and read), personified depression in a way I never thought of before, and it really got me thinking.

“Depression may try to convince you that it holds the true assessment of your personality, weaknesses, and limitations.”

You are not your depression.

Depression may be a part of you, but it does not define you. Negative thoughts that enter into your mind are not you, but your depression trying to get you down and keep you stagnant or moving backward in your life.

If you are able to personify depression, making it separate from yourself, it is easier to imagine your negative thoughts as being outside of yourself.

Next time you think, “I will never amount to anything,” immediately challenge that negative thought.  Say, “That is my depression talking, not me,” and see how that makes you feel.

I’ve been doing this for a few days. Not only does it make me more aware of my thoughts, which I may not be consciously aware of most of the time, it also makes me consider how I would respond if someone else was standing in front of me saying these awful things to me.

Think of Depression as an Abusive Relationship

“I will never accomplish anything in my life.”

That is your depression causing thoughts and feelings in your mind and your life that are not true.  Change that thought to:

“You will never accomplish anything in your life.”

Who is saying that to you?  It’s not you.  It’s someone else.  Depression is now a person separate from you.  Who is saying that? Is it someone you know and trust?  Is it someone from your past?  Or is it just some negative individual who gets his/her jollies by tearing you down?

Would you put up with that if it came from someone else?

The thing is that I know I wouldn’t.  If some jerk walked up to me and said, “You’re not smart enough or creative enough to even try to do that. You will fail. Why bother trying?” I would react in complete disbelief and then tell that jerk to take his negative thoughts elsewhere and to leave me out of it.

I would remind that jerk that just because he’s too afraid to try something doesn’t mean he needs to tear me down and try to keep me from trying.  I would also clearly state that you’ll never get anywhere unless you try.  You never know until you try, and the only failure is the failure to make an attempt.

Trapped by Negative Thoughts – Psychological Abuse on Oneself

Would you hang around someone who constantly told you that you were ugly?

Fat?

Lazy?

Stupid?

Uneducated?

Ignorant and naive?

Most likely, you wouldn’t put up with this from someone else and you would cut this person from your life if you could or, at the very least, tell him/her to shut-up and screw off.  We should try doing the same to our depression.  Next time those negative thoughts creep in, respond with, “Oh my God. Shut up and Screw off!  You are so mean, and I don’t want you here!” Then say the opposite of what the depression was telling you.  Tell yourself that you are beautiful, attractive, a good person, a hard worker, smart, educated, and trustworthy.

Recognize yourself for who you are and stop letting depression take control and abuse you like a violent spouse in a bad marriage.  Divorce the depression and tell it to screw off.

This is what I’m going to do to challenge negative thoughts and be good to myself the way that I am good to others and be a friend to myself as I am to others.  Take my own advice that I give to others, cut myself some slack and stop putting up with the negativity that depression pushes into my life.

I’m going to try to take control.

I blog for World Mental Health Day

Question:  How do you recognize and challenge negative thoughts?

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Comments

  1. Adam Glenn says:

    This is a great article. My wife tries to help me do this. I think depression really tries its hardest to make us feel like we are not worth anything. Actively countering it is a good idea.

  2. I am so appreciative of your review of my article and and how well you have taken and ran with it. Everything you have added perfectly fits with how I believe depression works on us.

    So nice to stumble upon this and to be part of such a great blog!

  3. Always Sick Chick says:

    Thank you very much, Erin, for reading, visiting and commenting. I really appreciate it, and also for the compliment.

    And thanks for the inspiration. :)

  4. Hello Alwayssick,
    Maybe a little off topic, however I am 16, and basically I am overloaded with school work. I do homework all the time after school, and I barely go out on weekends, because of homework. School gives me a lot of stress, I’m in a very challenging programme called MYP. I’m basically anxious and worried all the time (I have symptoms of OCD and bipolar), and I stress out way too much. I have a lot of nightmares as well. I always get very good grades (but I still worry about them) and I’m practically never sick.

    What I’m curious about is why I am SO tired all the time… I feel like sleeping and eating and doing nothing all day, and I usually get about 7-9 hours of sleep. I’m always so tired…. just sleep…. WHAT can I do to make myself less stressed out and anxious and increase my well-being? I feel like my life has become a giant homework time.
    Good Job!

  5. Always Sick Chick says:

    You sound a lot like me when I was your age, htgrod. I think the best thing you can do is to reduce your stress. There are many ways to do this, but I think the most important part is to stop stressing out about your grades so much. The most important thing is that you do your best. If you complete an assignment, that’s it. It’s done. Whatever happens next will happen, no matter what you do. Don’t expect to be perfect, and stop trying to aim for perfection. You’re only wearing yourself out.

    That being said, you should speak with your parents, a school counselor, teacher, and/or a doctor/nurse about how you’re feeling and don’t take the words of a stranger over any of them.

    Good luck this year in school.

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