As I read through other blogs, my own notes and research material, as well as talking to others who battle depression, I realize that 99% of us all deal with a common problem – seeing our own self-worth. I wonder why that is. I’ve known people before who acted as though they were the best thing since Oreo cookies, but I guess the key word there is “acted”, isn’t it? Did they really think that, or were they wearing a mask? Was it confidence or arrogance that they were full of? Do they ever doubt themselves? Just how did they garner all of that confidence? Was it something they had to work at, or did it just come to them naturally? Or maybe they were just that dad-gum smart and could actually Do Anything. Whatever the reason, the cause, or the acquired skill, I wish I had some of it. I am constantly questioning myself. I constantly doubt my abilities. I know that I have accomplished much in my life and I know that I worked hard for it. I know that I can “do” things, but can I honestly “be” those things? Most of all, I constantly question whether or not I even “deserve” it – whatever “it” may be. And I think that’s the biggest problem – believing that I “deserve” to have the good stuff. I know it’s out there. I see others enjoying it. I envy those who have it. I’m probably smart enough to obtain it. But do I deserve it? And, why can’t I keep it? That’s the $64,000 question.
All the books, all the therapy, all the videos, all the blogs – they all give hints on how to reclaim your value or self-worth, whichever you choose to call it. When reading through the lists, they all seem so easy. You tell yourself, “Well, of course I can do that.” And you set out to reclaim all those things that others have and that you have somehow lost. At some point, you think you have it figured out. But then – wham! – something happens and that nasty voice in your head says, “Of course you can’t have that. Why should you have it? What have you done to deserve it? You aren’t good like they are. You aren’t smart like they are. You aren’t beautiful like they are. You aren’t…..You aren’t…..You aren’t…..” I am so tired of constantly thinking of all the things that I am not. I have GOT to remember all the things that I am.
I am also:
- Easily Discouraged
It’s funny how so many of those seem quite the opposite of each other, isn’t it? I guess that’s because I have such a hard time in figuring out what my head thinks and what my heart feels. I know many things in my head, but for some reason, there seems to be some type of electrical short between my head and my heart. Sometimes the feelings make it to my heart and sometimes they don’t. Perhaps I need to be seeing a Neurologist instead of a Psychiatrist. It would be great if there was just some switch that could be flipped so that my head and my heart could be in sync.
So, understanding these confusing traits that I claim, what should I do with them? How do I use these attributes to become whole again (as if I ever was whole) and to finally feel as though I deserve the good things in life? The first thing to be done is to stop the Negative Thoughts that swirl through my brain.
When these negative thoughts barge into my brain, I must learn to:
- Stop those thoughts immediately
- The easiest way for me to do this is to stop and say a short prayer asking God to lead me in my thoughts.
- By speaking a verse from the Bible out loud is a wonderful way to stop the negative thoughts. Once cannot speak and think negative thoughts at the same time.
- Change my thoughts
- Once the negative thoughts have momentarily stopped, I can choose to change my thoughts. I can go in two directions – the past or the future.
- The Past: I can think back to a time when things were good and remember an event that took place when I was happy or content.
- The Future: If I choose the path to the future, I can think of those things that I am working toward. I won’t think of HOW I’ll accomplish these because I know that if I do that, those negative thoughts of not being able to accomplish them will return. Instead, I will merely think of the destination, not the trip itself.
- Make sure I am not thinking in Extremes
- Most of life is not lived in Black and White. Things are not “all or nothing”. There are many “in-betweens” in life.
- Learn to live in the “shades of gray”. Accept that while things may not always be good, they will also not always be bad. There will be ups and downs in life. Accept those in-betweens.
- Don’t Minimize the Positive
- Learn to look for the positive and acknowledge that it happens. (I really have to work on this. The negatives come so easily for me.)
- If in the habit of magnifying the setbacks in life, we will also learn to minimize those successes that happen.
- When we think of a negative about a person or event, make sure that I also think of at least one positive about that person or event. If I always make sure to find a positive, it will become easier to look at the positive BEFORE I look at the negative.
- Don’t Take All the Responsibility
- When bad things happen, do not take the blame or responsibility for it. (THIS is a biggy for me. My children claim that I tend to accept guilt for anything that goes wrong within a 7-county area.)
- Example: A friend fails a test and you had been studying with them – do not assume that it was your fault that you had not gone over a particular item with the friend that ended up being on the test. OR, A friend leaves your house and is later stopped for speeding – it’s not my fault that they did not leave in time to make curfew. People do not speed because of something you did or did not do.
- Release my Negative Thoughts and Keep them Moving Along
- Fighting against something usually takes a lot more energy than avoiding a fight in the first place. (I have found this to be so very true. I can wear myself out with fighting a thought or holding a grudge.)
- Acknowledge those negative thoughts while I calmly tell them to keep moving along.
- Instead of pushing and prying those negative thoughts out, I am simply acknowledging them and releasing them.
- If those thoughts return, (and they usually do) acknowledge that they are still coming and release them again. Don’t fight them – simply release them and let them go away again.
- As I release a Negative Thought, think of something positive that has happened because I was able to send that thought on. Example: The Negative thought took place because I was in a group of people I did not know (let’s say a sewing group) and I was thinking that these are all strangers and I know that I don’t do well in a group of strangers. As I release this Negative Thought, think of something positive that may happen because of this: I may just meet someone who can teach me how to do something that I have not been able to figure out on my own. My problem has now become an opportunity.
- Negative thoughts may still come at me, but maybe not so frequently or with as much power.
- They become easier to replace because my feelings are now being driven by more positive thoughts.
- Just as negative thoughts can build and feed on themselves, positive thoughts can do the same.
As I get familiar with this process, it gets easier over time. Nothing is going to stop the negative thoughts in total, but letting go and replacing those negative thoughts can help with the danger of being overcome by them. Negativity does not have to be in charge of my life.
Letting go of Negative Thoughts is something huge that I must work on daily — I have been programmed for 60+ years to look at the negative aspects of my life. I learned while in the mental hospital that negative thoughts have pretty much ruled my life and began at that point in learning to let them go. Sadly, I still struggle with this. While I can, and do, acknowledge the positive things that are present or that take place in my life, it seems as though my brain immediately goes to the Negative side to tell me that I don’t deserve those good things. I truly need to master the art of letting go.
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: Letting go of Negative Thoughts is draining to me. This was one of the first things I was told while in the hospital in Atlanta — “Betty, we need to work on these negative thoughts. They are consuming you.” Duh, no joke. But, it seems as thought I just can’t find the method that works for me. Everything I’ve read makes sense and I think to myself that it ought to be easy — that is until the next negative thought comes along and I justify it. Maybe, one day, I will stop fighting and let them go.
TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER: Been a bit down the past week or so. Headaches back and terrible problems with my neck. Cannot get comfortable no matter what I try, so very little sleep. I am going to have to break down and take care of that. I did call yesterday to get an appointment to see Neurologist, but only got voice mail — hopefully they will call today to set up appointment. Also went to Audiologist yesterday to see about getting Hearing Aids and they can’t even do the hearing tests until I see my ENT (again) about one of my ears. Lord, getting old is not for the weak of heart. So — Headaches, Neck Aches, and Ear Problems equate to yuck. However, I did go to church Sunday so that helped my spirits. Yay, for church!!!!!!!