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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.

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Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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