Negative thoughts and feelings are a natural function of a healthy mind. It’s there to keep us safe from harm. Shall I step off this ladder, no it’s dangerous, shall I jump in this freezing rough sea, no I’ll probably drown. It’s good to ask your mind questions, because it likes to work out solutions to your problems. But with depressive and anxious thoughts, it can be like a washing machine, going around and around, over and over the same point, bringing in new references to why you should be feeling this low, because he said this, she did that, life’s unfair, they died, and so on.
When you witness this everyday in someone you love, it can be heartbreaking. I know all about this, as most of my close family members have had depression and negative thoughts, I’ve lived with it and suffered along with them. But it’s like someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, until they want to help themselves, you are powerless. You can take someone to rehab, but you can’t do the work for them to address the reasons why they got addicted in the first place. Now a few people out there will be outraged that I can compare a drug addict to a depressed person. But what’s the difference? Do you think a drug addict woke up one day and thought, hey I’m feeling on top of my game, I think I’ll go out and get myself some drugs. No, they most likely have experienced difficult circumstances, family issues, hardship, depressive thoughts, been constantly let down, thrown out of home, family turned their back on them, many different factors until they thought, hey, I want to feel something different to this and drugs gave them the release they needed at the time.
I’ve counselled and worked with teenagers and adults who have a difficult relationship with drugs and alcohol, and it’s almost the same story as counselling and working with people experiencing depression, except the drug addict has found a change, has actually thought I’ve had enough of this. They most likely didn’t have a loving partner beside them, with kids that adored them, a mother and father that would do anything for them. So drugs were their answer.
So why does depression start? Depression is a series of negative thought patterns, behaviours and exposure to stress. Like weeds in the garden, if left to grow, it will take over and this will become ‘normal’ and all the beautiful flowers and happy thoughts don’t see any light, so wither away. It’s not that they’re not there, you have thousands, even millions more happy experiences than sad, it’s just the negative ones are stronger feelings with more emotional juice in them, and get all the attention. A happy experience is breathing in fresh air, a smile on someone’s face, a green field, a tree coming into blossom, but without practice, we don’t allow ourselves to feel them as a positive, we just see it as nothing.
You can be going along nicely, happy childhood, married, children, good but stressful job, social life, then BAM! Like been hit by a truck filled with negative thoughts.
Our brain is like a filing system, each experience is stored, we have a reference library that take us to the memory, through many different pathways. As we get older, we do not have the energy to contain the negative experiences anymore, like holding down numerous beach balls under the water’s surface, after a while it becomes exhausting. Also when we’re young and carefree you tend not to dwell on the past.
One scenario I have seen many times. When you have children and they reach an age where something traumatic has happened, maybe your father could have died when you were 6 years old, or even something happened you don’t consciously remember. You can think you’re totally fine about it, but as your son, daughter or even niece or nephew reaches that age, familiar thoughts and feelings arise from your subconscious memory, you may feel uncomfortable and begin to get stressed. Or you may begin to feel low, but cannot pin it to anything in particular. As your mind and body feel out of balance, causing you to act on your stress response, you may use one or more of the five F’s. You may anger quickly (fight), you might shut yourself away (flight), completely shutdown (freeze) make silly jokes to deflect the situation (funny) or you may shut down completely (faint).
Prolonged exposure to negative thoughts and feelings, creates a pathway in your mind so it becomes normal to feel that way. You almost forget how to feel good. Especially if you don’t socialise or exercise anymore due to feeling low, you won’t be getting the top up of endorphins from having a good laugh with friends or the excitement of a sporting event.
Just remember, you are not broken, you’re a complete success. It’s just you’re doing something you no longer want to do. Learning techniques on how to deal with negative thought patterns is essential to finding a solution. Each person is unique and this needs to be acknowledged. I would work with one person in a different manner to another. We all have a belief system about ourself and the world we live in. Looking at the negative thought for what it is, a thought, then acknowledging it and what it means, then releasing it, and switching to a positive thought and feeling. This halts that particular thought pathway and redirects it to a positive neural pathway, resulting in a good feeling.
When we run from the left hand side of our brain, negative thoughts can spiral. Bringing in more creative and positive right hand brain thoughts, helps to disperse the negative.
It takes practice and determination. But remember it’s only one thought at a time. Instead of training your body to get fitter, you’re training your mind to become stronger and think the way you want it to. Your mind does not control you, it is a thinking system and you control your thoughts. Halting a negative one before it has time to take route and grow, simply by saying “STOP. I no longer need to feel this way, I am safe, I am here now, not back there, I am an adult and I am in control of how I feel, I’m not in the past, it’s not real, it’s just a thought”.
If you are living or are close to a negative thinker, when they start to say something, you can acknowledge what they say and then compliment them, or do something unexpected like give them a hug or kiss, say how fantastic they are. This alone can distract from the negative thought. You also have to remember not to feed the negative thought as you then become an enabler, saying “oh I know, you have it so hard and remember the time when this happened, it was so bad”.
It’s very important to look after yourself if you’re in a relationship with a depressive thought taker, because you can also become down. As with a drug addict, if they promise to get help and do nothing, you have to ask yourself is this the life I want? To be with someone who has no intention of trying to be their best self. It’s not about giving ultimatums, it’s about looking honestly at your own life too. Sometimes you can stay with a negative person who insults you, never seems to appreciate what you do, doesn’t even look at you when you speak to them and this can become “normal” for you too. This can be because you’re repeating old patterns and beliefs from your upbringing, this is how my Mum spoke to my Dad, or Dad to my Mum, or how I was spoken to and treated by an aunt or uncle. As a child we can only do so much, especially if it’s a caregiver displaying these behaviours, but as an adult we are responsible to how we feel and who we have around us.
I have listened to so many stories from people of all ages, some in their 60’s and 70’s who have a living parent, how the mother or father still speaks to them how they did when they were growing up. They’ve accepted this is how it is, because they never have thought there is another way. Even though they could have gone on to have a successful career (many are still seeking approval of parent’s this is why they have to do so well) or moved from one relationship to the next, never really knowing why they break apart, or not knowing why they feel so low. Breaking the pattern is easier than you might think it is.
How to raise your positive vibrations
Spend 10 minutes of your day, while you’re in the shower, before you get up on a morning, while you’re sipping your morning tea.
Close your eyes. Think about 3 things you are grateful for that is in your life right now. One of them being a very small thing like the breeze on your face or the sound of the wind in the trees, or the rain against the window.
After that think of yourself and imagine positive energy and light going through the top of your head and going to every part of you, into your heart, to your fingers and toes, all through every cell of your body. Then think of that positive energy going to your partner, your children, your dog or cat. Then extend that out to your friends and other members of your family, think only positive thoughts about them. Send them love and caring. Then extend that out to your clients at work, anyone that you have met, people living far away, people you haven’t met who could be going through a tough time that you’ve heard about. Remember only positive thoughts, not about their situation, just sending them good vibrations and love.
Then see a situation that has been troubling you, or you haven’t worked to a solution yet. Just notice it, let it play in your head and see it resolving without you having to do anything. Watch it over and over until it becomes accepted by you that this is how it is.
Repeat this everyday and you will notice by improving your inner world, impacts positively on your outer world and people around you.
Nurture and give yourself what you need. If you need to talk to someone, do it.
I’m determined to break down any remaining stigma attached to mental health. I’ve developed a Mindful Massage that addresses the body’s stress response to old patterns, beliefs and experiences, clearing negative thought patterns with energy work, and releasing tension in muscles and ligaments with hot stones and remedial massage. I’ve had phenomenal results from many happy people.
Do what you need to get what you want from your life, you’re in control.
phone: +61 (0) 414 973394