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6 Thinking Patterns That Will Easily Lead To Depression

6 Thinking Patterns That Will Easily Lead To Depression

We may have eradicated a number of diseases that once plagued humanity, and we tend to live longer than our ancestors, but the modern world has seen a rise in mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. Even those living in highly developed countries with a high quality of life are not immune to depression, as those little demons that lurk from the depths of our subconscious and keep putting us down are a lot more powerful in some people.

There are a number of thinking patterns that are really counter-productive and can lead to depression, even in people who haven’t had previous problems with their mental and emotional health. It is important to identify these bad patterns as soon as possible, and work hard on making a positive change.

1. Jumping between two extreme ends of the emotional spectrum

A classic sign that you are on the path leading to depression is the inability to see the complexity of each situation, with grey areas and a number of potential drawbacks, but positive outcomes as well. You start to view the world in black and white, and things are either perfect or your life is in complete shambles. Since perfection is quite difficult, if not impossible to achieve, you end up falling into a dark mood more often, and you keep getting sucked deeper into that pit of despair.

It is important to take a step back when you see this happening, and try to rationalize the situation. It might not be the instant cure you are looking for, but trying to stay rational and reinforcing the belief that thing are not all bad is an important first step in dealing with depression. It is a proactive approach that can really help you get that initial spark of motivation you need to get out of the house and seek out some help.

There are some indications that medicinal marijuana can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, and that it can be used as a way of kick-starting your recovery or as a method of prevention if you are exhibiting some early signs like those mentioned above. Whatever strategy you decide to use, just know that the first step is being aware of your negative behaviour and having a desire to change it.

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2. Creating defeatist scenarios and giving up before you’ve even started

Sentences like “What’s the point?”, “I’ve tried everything” or “I know it won’t work out” should never roll off your tongue. This is the epitome of defeatism, and you start to get into this kind of habit as you start to fall into the clutches of depression. Because your energy, happiness and motivation are in short supply, and you’ve been focusing on all the bad experiences from the past way more than you should, you start to give up as soon as you are faced with a challenge. While lying in bed and doing nothing may seem like an incredibly safe move, it is the worst thing you can do.

I remember a friend being torn about the fact that some of the neighbors in his building complained about his dog. He dismissed all suggestions about going to the neighbors and having a face-to-face talk to try and see what the problem was and how it can be resolved, and he did it in the worst manner possible – by explaining to us what he knew would happen, and why there was no point in doing this.

“They’ll just say this, they’ll do that, then the landlord will do this, and I’ll have all kinds of extra trouble on my hands, so it’s best if I just leave the dog with my parents in the suburbs.” – this kind of reasoning leads to poor decisions and reduced quality of life, and that’s the last thing you need when you feel depression lurking around the corner.

3. Falling victim to self-loathing

A particularly destructive way of thinking, self-loathing is the fast track to developing depression. It often hits us when we are alone with our thoughts, e.g. after coming home from work/school or before going to bed, and it essentially paints the worse possible picture of our lives.

Instead of identifying problems and trying to find solutions, we begin to hate ourselves for not being able to perform, for making mistakes, for being afraid, and even for being negative all the time.

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You find yourself hating the fact that you hate everything, and there seems to be nothing to look forward. It’s best to have someone with you at low moments like these, but if you don’t feel like talking to or facing anyone, you can get a pet you can cuddle up with. Dogs are particularly good at helping you keep depression at bay.

As long as it’s a smart and small to medium sized breed, puppies can be effectively house trained, so you won’t have to worry about them causing a mess. In fact, these loving creatures will not only make you feel less lonely, but you’ll have to take them out for walks, and this added physical activity is another good way to fight depression. Just taking your mind off those toxic thoughts will help you calm down and take a more rational approach.

4. Seeing only the bad side of things

Nothing brings about feelings of hopelessness quite like turning a blind eye to all the good things in your life and the different possibilities and focusing just on the bad things. The truth is that you can find a fairly positive solution to almost any problem, but there can be times where you forget all about the great progress you’ve been making at work or the good times you’ve had with your partner and just think about your debts, that one deadline that you almost missed and the fight you and your significant other had last week.

I have a close friend who was in a similar situation, and no matter how many examples of him doing good we’d come up with, he’d just shut them down by stubbornly sticking to a few things he saw as major problems. Look, a lot of these life problems can be solved through some intelligent budgeting, a bit of exercise and a willingness to do the research and find effective solutions.

There are always options – if you’ve worked in public service for a decade you may be able to apply for student loan forgiveness, if you give up smoking and cook your own food you can save some money, if you take the time to talk to your partner and schedule regular date nights you can work through problems, if stop watching TV shows late at night you’ll be able to get up earlier and feel fresh and focused at work, etc.

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Look at the positives, sing a song of praise to all your accomplishments in front of the mirror every morning and look at all the options available to you, instead of laser focusing on one or two bad things in your life.

5. Becoming Captain Hindsight

There is a great episode of South Park with a powerful superhero called “Captain Hindsight”. He swoops in after a big disaster and tells everyone what could have been done to prevent it, and has three trusty sidekicks: could’ve, should’ve and would’ve. As you slide further down the slippery slope of depression you will find yourself evoking these sidekicks yourself, constantly relieving the past and re-evaluating your decision, dreaming of what your life would look like, if only a specific set of magical circumstances all fell into place.

It’s kind of like a kid who gets shoved around by a bully at the playground and spends the afternoon vividly imagining a situation where he fought back and pounded the bully into submission. Well, here the bully is your own mind and it is never too late to stand your ground and tell it to back off.

It’s one thing to learn from your mistakes, but you shouldn’t let the past eat away at your confidence. A good way to deal with the issues is to keep your mind engaged with new projects, household chores or learning new skills, so that you’ll have a way to anchor yourself in the present and a good incentive to keep moving forward.

6. Holding yourself responsible for everything wrong with the world

Things never quite work out as planned, and life is full of unpleasant little surprises. While you can directly or indirectly affect some of these things, a lot of it is out of your control, and there is always that freaky random factor some like to call luck. There was a time when I took everything a little too personal and blamed myself for every little thing that might have gone wrong at work, at home and in my relationships.

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This is an offshoot of that could’ve mentality, but unlike moping and thinking up different scenarios that seem more pleasant, I was just left a chilling feeling of regret and sorrow. Totally irrational, yet completely unshakable, it burdened my mind and left an acidic taste in my mouth. I eventually shook it off through many a long serious talk with good friends, fueled by generous amounts of whiskey and vodka.

I’m just being honest here, but I have to categorically state that alcohol is not a solution or cure for anything – I knew that I could drink it responsibly, and that it was the only thing that would allow me to truly open up. Find people who care about you and are ready to listen, and schedule a night where you can get some alone time and engage in a bit of “real talk”. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel afterwards.

You won’t find yourself on a crossroads where one path is shiny and paved with gold, and the other is dark covered in weeds and thorns – the road leading to depression often looks like the easier option, and the feelings of emptiness and sorrow can just creep up on you if you don’t know what to look for. This is why you should look out for these destructive thinking patterns, and prepare some serious counter-measures when you find yourself turning to this kind of defeatist mindset.

More by this author

Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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