Instead of trying to harness the power of positive thought, more often than not when we are depressed, we ruminate on negative feelings. Thoughts are compelling; positive ones are our allies and negative ones are not. In order to give ourselves a fighting chance, we need to learn how to focus our positive thoughts to eliminate our depression.
THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THOUGHT
Negative thoughts have a way of creating their own reality. If you think negatively enough, those thoughts will come true. If you say, “I’m going to have a bad day today”, your mind will find a way to make it happen.
For example: a few weeks ago I had a small argument with my wife. The first thing I said to myself was, “Every time we fight I get depressed.” Sure enough, I was depressed for three days. I focused so much on that thought that my mind made it happen.
We all have a certain amount of self-talk that goes on in our brain. If that self-talk is negative, you are more likely to think in a negative manner. If our self-talk is full of words like “can’t” and “won’t”, you can’t stop thinking negative, and you won’t get out of your depressed mood.
POSITIVE THOUGHT: THE WAY TO DESTROY YOUR DEPRESSION
Now don’t get me wrong; I am not one of “those people” who think you can completely rid yourself of depression if only you think happy thoughts. That attitude is just not realistic.
Most of our depression is chemical, and as far as I know you can’t control the chemical processes in your brain with thoughts. But there is a part of all of our depression that is completely mental, and we have the power to change that for good or bad.
If we have that power, why not use it for good Superman?
HOW TO AVOID NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
To avoid thoughts that can damage our moods, we first need to train ourselves to be aware of our thought processes. Focus on your self-talk and figure out if what you are thinking is helpful or not. If a thought is not helpful, recognize it, then move on to a more positive train of thinking.
Sometimes it’s not as easy to move on from negative self-talk. Sometimes it’s impossible to force a negative thought from our head. Sometimes, it takes a little more work.
Thankfully there are ways to gently remove those negative feelings from our mind.
RECOGNIZE AND DISPUTE
Once you recognize that you are stuck on a negative thought, start a debate with yourself. Lets use the example from before:
“I’m going to have a bad day!”
“How do you know for sure?”
“Because I always have bad days.”
“That is untrue. Yesterday was pretty good.”
“Well, today the kids are home from school, and they always stress me out!”
“Why do they stress you out?”
“I don’t know, they always fight and bicker. I can’t stand that.”
“Maybe they just get bored easily?”
“They do always say they are bored.”
“Why not make up a list of activities for them to do to keep them busy?”
“But I’m so depressed. I don’t feel like it!”
“Maybe if you made a list of things they could do on their own, you could have some quiet time to yourself?”
“That would be nice.”
“Then maybe, when you feel a bit better, you could do something with them?”
“Yes, I could probably manage that.”
“Grab your laptop and make that list. It’s almost time for the kids to wake up!”
“Today might turn out to be a good day after all.”
Okay, so it’s a bit corny and simplistic, but you get the idea. Let the rational, positive part of your mind debate with the irrational. Don’t be hard on yourself. Gently convince yourself of the positive point of view.
TAKE YOUR MIND OFF THE NEGATIVE
Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes to distract yourself to move your mind to a more positive outlook. Read a chapter in a book, troll Facebook for a few minutes, read some positive, inspirational quotes or eat something. Whatever you can do to take your mind off the negative self-talk, do it! Don’t forget to replace those forgotten thoughts with some healthy, positive ones.
GET SOME EXERCISE
Getting your blood flowing and releasing endorphins into your bloodstream will go a long way to getting you out of a negative mood. My favorite activity is walking. I love to walk around the neighborhood, looking at other people’s houses, saying hello to my neighbors and being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. It never fails to put me in a better mindset.
Pick your favorite exercise, maybe put your headphones on and listen to some feel-good music. Do anything to work up a little sweat and I guarantee you will have a more positive mindset.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
Being social with the right people can easily change your mood. It’s hard to be negative when you are around someone who is consistently positive.
Grab lunch with a friend, talk to a depression support group on Facebook or (shameless plug) in the Depression Newsletter Forum or chat with someone on the phone. Try to avoid isolating yourself and don’t go out and find someone who is constantly negative.
Positivity (is that a word?) rubs off on you. Use it to your advantage and connect with a positive friend.
REPLACE THE NEGATIVE WITH POSITIVE SELF-TALK
Once you’ve removed the negative, you need something to fill that space. This is the perfect time to fill your brain with positive self-talk.
Affirmations are perfect for filling your mind with good thoughts. It’s a little hard to compliment yourself at first, but when you see how good it makes you feel, you will do it over and over.
What are positive affirmations? Here are a few:
“Why yes, I am beautiful!”
“I am a great dad.”
“Today will be a wonderful day!”
“I have a good life.”
“Don’t worry, be happy!”
Having trouble thinking of affirmations? Just click on over to Google and do a search. You can find hundreds of affirmations to fit any circumstance. Be specific:
“WOW. I have really lost weight. I should be to my goal of 50 pounds soon!”
“Another task completed. I should reaching my goal of ______ very soon!”
“Business is booming! I will be able to buy that new Hummer any day now.”
Have fun with it. Don’t bore yourself and be realistic.
I’ll say it again: Think positive and change your negative thoughts. Engage in positive self-talk. Surround yourself with positive people. Exercise. Change what you have control of in your depression.
Have a wonderful day!
by Jason Weiland