Shortly after I wrote about life having ups and downs – that it is 50% positive, 50% negative, I had someone ask me what happens when life is 90% negative. I told her that that didn’t sound like much fun and we used the self coaching model to look at what her brain was telling her. This person experiences depression, a medical condition that no amount of positive thinking can cure. The thing that we noticed is that the thoughts that she was thinking continually reinforced her negative world view. When bad things happened to her, her thoughts were “yep, this is just how my life is – nothing good ever happens to me”. She didn’t notice anything good that happened to her even when I pointed out a couple of things. Many people suffer from depression and I don’t want to minimize how hard that is or that it needs to be medically treated. I just want to offer that sometime re-programming our thoughts can lead to not adding our own suffering on top of the depression.
Someone who can’t see anything positive in their life is not going to get a new thought and go from being depressed to happy, our brain can’t bridge a gap that wide, this is where we can use baby steps.
For instance, the thought “nothing good ever happens to me” cannot become “my life is so amazing”.
But you can try on a baby step thought like, “it’s possible that there are good things in my life – can I name one or 2?
Or, I didn’t feel awful all day today, there were those few minutes when I felt OK, then make a mental note what you were thinking. Try to think those thoughts again.
You might also notice when the negative thoughts come and stop them. I have had luck with saying in my head, “Stop, stop, stop – I don’t think like that anymore.” You need to plant flowers when you pull out weeds, you don’t want to leave a thought void that your brain will want to fill with negative thoughts again.
Sometimes refusing to reinforce the negative thoughts your brain is offering might make you feel a little better.
Do you think trying some baby step thoughts would help you? If you can’t think of any baby step thoughts, I might be able to help you come up with some. Reach out, I would love to talk to you.