What are your Negative Thoughts?

Taming the Black Dog, A Practical Manual for Sufferers by Patrick Ellverton

Think about how many habits we engage in without even thinking about it, such as putting on our shoes, driving to work, or making breakfast. This can also be said for our thinking habits, both positive and negative. When we feel depressed, many of our thoughts will automatically be negative thoughts such as “I am just not good enough”, or “I will never get this done.” Then there are those we think about in regard to other people “No one likes/loves me.” So how do we change these thoughts around?

It is definitely easier said than done. In the book, Taming the Black Dog they state that over a period of time, we become comfortable with our negative state of mind and can use it as a defense mechanism. When we wake up in the morning feeling depressed and defeated, we pull the covers over our heads stating “I just cannot face another day.” During the day we may suffer disappointment or feel that we have failed at something, withdrawing from our peers and emotionally beating ourselves up.

So what are your negative thoughts? The book lists seven negative attitudes we may engage in, although there are many more. Underline those that may apply. The expectation of failure; “Everything always goes wrong for me.”. Self-Criticism: “I am stupid or lazy or both.” Low Self-Esteem: “I’ve achieved nothing compared to other people. I’m worthless.” Guilt: “It’s all my fault.” Fear: “What if…..?” Emptiness: “I really don’t care what happens.” Lack of purpose: “It’s all pointless. Why bother?”

So what to do about these negative thoughts? First, select the ones that apply to you and if you can, consider the causes behind them. For example, if you feel lazy is it because you lack energy, due to depression, or is it because you were told this as a child? If you can identify what is happening then half the battle is won, but do not worry if you cannot identify the underlying issues at the moment.

As stated, above is a list of seven negative attitudes. Now are going to look at their opposites: expectations of failure - the anticipation of success, self-criticism - praise, low self-esteem - self-respect, guilt - clear conscience, fear - confidence, emptiness - fulfillment, and lack of purpose - purposefulness.

Remember the old adage “If you cannot say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all,” well not only does that hold true for others, but it also holds true for YOU. From now on if you are going to say anything negative say STOP and then have a list of the positive things about you on hand such as recalling the help you have given to other people or refocusing on your purpose.

So how do you create a daily positive commitment? Any commitment has to be written in the present using I statements. For example Self-Criticism the opposite is praise. Therefore your daily habit statement would be I (insert your name) recognize my achievements, visualize them and congratulate myself. I feel good about myself and others. I remember that if I cannot say something positive about someone or myself I say nothing. The Rule is: Praise and Silence

For Self-Esteem the opposite is self-respect and therefore your daily habit statement is I (insert name) am justifiably proud of myself. I recall my achievements and successes today which are (list achievements) and I am pleased with my endeavors. I see the best in everyone, including myself. I am confident in my ability to manage my affairs successfully and to help others. I love myself just as I love (insert name of a loved one). Yes I do.

For each negative belief and thought write out your own daily commitment and say it to yourself every day and night and especially when that negative thought enters your thoughts.