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Unblocking Negative Thoughts. Tuesday October 1, 2013

We all know that when we feel depressed, we have less energy to try any self help techniques the books recommend.

Being depressed makes us feel tired, unenthusiastic, unable to connect and to see much joy in anything. We are prone to negative thoughts and it takes too much energy we haven't got to pull ourselves out of the state we are in.

When I really feel at rock bottom, I have one simple technique which I use, in sheer desperation.

It is very simple and works..for me at any rate.

Every time a negative thought comes into my mind, (pretty often, once a second), I immediately replace it with a positive thought. If nothing positive comes to mind, I will say "Stop no that's not right, forget it"

Apparently positive people or rather those not prone to depression automatically think like this. For instance my husband, who against all the odds is cheerful nearly all the time (yes, it can be quite irritating) is sometimes forced to confront a negative problem. He'll spend as little time as possible dealing with it and then more often than not, I will hear him whistling. He will have forgotten all about it! Maddening but true and maybe we can learn from this behaviour.

I guess one could use my negative/positive technique before one reaches desperation point but it's too exhausting to do this all the time and not natural. It only helps me when I really need to take drastic action.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Fionna O'Leary Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 7:55am

You are such a kindly responder, Julia and I really like that. I think what you are intending to direct your post to is not so much having negative thoughts...which are inevitable ...but that negative maelstrom that our persistent negative thoughts can create. Is that right? How do we release ourselves from a sort of whirlpool or quicksand of misery or anxiety?

I don't think we're built to be 'happy-clappy' positive all the time, and it isn't even appropriate or wise to expect to be in that state all the time. I can hear myself giving a mental "AAAARGH!" when that is the unrelenting response. (In fact not always so silent!).

Another source of wise advice is from Pema Chodrun (I'm not a Buddist, but much of Buddhist philosophy or psychology seems helpful) who suggests a meditative technique when one's mind keeps wandering...particularly when it is persistent, of simply labelling the thoughts 'thinking' and turning one's mind back to the breath...She also says to notice the tone one uses when saying "thinking". I've got form for it sounding more like "THINKING AGAIN, DARN IT".... Her advice then is to repeat "thinking" but lightly with kindly humour. Although this is a meditation technique I've taken to using it when I notice that I'm getting into one of those spirals in day to day life ... And then start creating one of those lists that Lex was talking about yesterday (or was it the day before) so Ai do something practical and helpful.

It takes time but gradually one learns to put less weight on the thoughts so they have less power....More as if one learns to regard it as ."It's only a thought". I reckon cultivating kindly patience (which is not my strong suite) particularly with oneself at times like this really matters..

I'm finding these ideas quite hard to put down in words...and find myself having a fine negative thought about my performance (yeah! Lots of judging!) at the end of it!.... But they are just thoughts, not facts....

Anonymous Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 9:45am

For me it doesn't help to tell myself to stop it but it does help to read a book about another lifestyle/country and escaping or buy a magazine about the sea. e.g. The Great Escape by Geoff thompson or the monthly magazine Coast. Then if feeling more positive, get baking to take round to the neighbours or do some gardening.

Anonymous Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 10:53am

I find this idea appealing in its simplicity and I really think it will help with the sort of 'distress' or whatever it is I was trying to describe in a response to yesterday's blog. And if it does that would be amazing. It is a case of different horses for different courses but this one I can imagine being very helpful for this particular horse. Thank you!

Jason Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 11:09am

If you think the technique would be helpful more of the time if it weren't so tiring, you could decide to devote some block of time each day to applying this technique (5 min a day, an hour a day, or longer or shorter depending on how tiring it is). If you work it into your schedule and practice a little bit every day, it might become easier for you to do, and after a while, you might do it automatically, unconsciously, like your husband.

French Toast Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 11:13am

It is said that it takes a month to get a new habit set into place in the mind/body, so I'm wondering if you could get past the exhaustion (difficult, I know) and get to the point where it feels natural?

I'm a Buddhist (Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism - Google it) and I find chanting to be an enormous help when I am struggling. It lifts my life force and reminds me that I am a wonderful person!

Thanks for your post - it's very helpful.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 11:53am

Yes - my husband is like that too: most irritating but probably more useful to us than being with someone also prone to depression. I like your idea and also Fiona's and Jason's. Completely love the "thinking again - darn it!"

Julia Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 12:26pm

Thank you for your lovely, helpful comments and advice which I have read quickly in between doing things. It's been a busy day so far today but I know I will be able to sit down calmly (!) later and read everything you have each written.

Anonymous Tue, Oct 1st 2013 @ 3:01pm

I have recently read a terrific book; Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson. That thing we've heard for years about positive thoughts making you happier is absolutely true, and rooted in the science of the brain! Our brains grab negative thoughts more easily than positive ones because our ancient brain is acting much more quickly to keep us from threats. So we act as if there are threats most of the time, and are anxious far too much. The comment by the Buddhist is right on; the more you think positive thoughts, the more positive you will feel. It takes some time, but it will work. Get on your own side; take life less personally; bring in the good thoughts! And read Buddha's Brain. Its a real eye opener.

SANDRO RICARDO DA CUNHA MORAES Wed, Oct 2nd 2013 @ 7:24am

A depressão morre com o choque da alegria, mesmo que não haja motivos de alegria...

Anonymous Thu, Oct 3rd 2013 @ 1:45pm

Love Pema, she is so great. If i am worrying excessively or being negative i can think oops worryin gnow, save that for ''worry time"" and i devote a half our per day at a certain time when I am ''allowed'' to worry. sometimes i write downt the worry or negative thoughts briefly and save them for ''worry time'' then during worry time i can worry and be negative all I want, but once its over, is over. Mostly though I do the Pema thing, oops, im in the future, past/ thinking, bring myself back to the present moment-what do i need to be doing right now? focusing one? studying? cleaning? child care? what? so i do that. do what is in front of you, what is in front of you will save you. i love that quote.

Anonymous Sat, Oct 12th 2013 @ 11:35am

Dear Fiona
i've just read your response for the 1st October and i want to say you've got a great idea. i think a major part of my problem is not having any time for myself - it has been so difficult to put me first and i still struggle with it.
but, in your response you said "I reckon cultivating kindly patience (which is not my strong suite) particularly with oneself at times like this really matters"... that seems like good advice to me and maybe i'll make a committment to myself to gently observe negative thoughts and then let them drift away or dismiss them.

many many thanks and best wishes

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