Are Self Defeating and Negative Thoughts Contributing
to Your Feelings of Depression?
When you meet a new situation you will have a variety of thoughts about it. We tend to believe our own thoughts, including negative thoughts or self-defeating thoughts, rarely troubling to challenge them.
In fact, particularly when we are depressed we entertain negative thoughts that are often false, generally looking at the world with a cup-half-empty mentality.
It is not simply depressed people who have negative thoughts that are unhelpful; it can be very beneficial for everyone to stop, examine, and challenge negative thinking.
Types of Negative Thoughts and Their Alternatives
Here are some common scenarios that you can ponder and alternate ways of thinking that are more positive and helpful.
Situations are either good or bad. You will hear the words “always” and “never.” These words are often heard in the conversations of troubled couples. For example, “you never help with household chores.” Such a critical comment will not usually have a good outcome.
Instead, try to have the thought that there is good and bad in many situations, as well as many shades of gray.
A person will have a negative belief that they are unlucky, that good things never happen to them, so why bother making an effort.
Think instead about activities where you put in some effort and were able to make a difference.
This happens when someone looks for and believes that the worst possible outcome will happen. These thoughts lead to a great deal of unnecessary worry. In addition, a person might withdraw from activities and challenges because he or she believes in a negative outcome.
Consider a range of possible outcomes and remember events that you did worry over and yet had satisfactory outcomes. This eliminates anxiety.
Worthlessness entails a belief that one is not worthy of love or attention. Self-critical remarks can make a person doubt his or her abilities and fail to make an effort. Worthlessness is often associated with depression.
Family members and friends can sometimes help challenge such thoughts by highlighting your achievements. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is very useful in addressing negative thoughts and beliefs that people falsely hold about themselves.
When you feel a sense of hopelessness, you feel that whatever is attempted will not make a difference, leading to a lack of effort.
Clay Routledge, a behavioral psychologist, wrote the following in The New York Times on June 23, 2018
We have a strong orientation to live — that is, to avoid death. However, the neurological machinery that has helped us survive has also rendered us distinctively ruminative. Our capacity to reflect on ourselves, to think about the past and the future and to engage in abstract thought has given us access to some uncomfortable truths: We know that we and everyone we care about will age, become frailer and die. We recognize that life is uncertain. We understand that pain and sorrow are part of our destiny.
If you can’t control your negative thoughts, or someone you love is mired in this type of negative thinking, it may well be time to seek professional help.