I don’t always like to start off my posts with ‘this week in therapy’ but….this week in therapy, I absent-mindedly brought up the fact that my negative thoughts have been more present lately. When I reflect on my negative thoughts, I don’t really view them as something to get rid of at this point. They’re here, they’re not going anywhere, and I need to figure out how to deal with them. However, it bothers me that my negative thoughts are very persistent. They can come and go whenever they want, and the hardest time to deal with them is when I forget they exist.
Negative thoughts can seem pretty self-explanatory, but the way they work is usually more complicated than you think. It’s not just self-loathing, and it isn’t just talking down to yourself. At the heart of a negative thought is the idea that you’re less than, and the many ways negative thoughts manifest themselves all come from that root idea.
It used to feel like it was easy to pick out my negative thoughts, but it’s actually become harder to recognize them. Depression’s adapted to the fact that I recognize negative thoughts, so it tries to dress up those thoughts in other ways. I don’t put myself down; I just look down on the way I do things. I cut down my choices, my opinions, even my likes and dislikes. It’s subtler, but these negative thoughts work the same way as they always have – which sometimes makes them hard to recognize.
Depression makes me go on autopilot sometimes, and when I do, I forgot to stay ready for those negative thoughts. I forget just how dark those thoughts can get when I don’t keep them in check. I wish I knew how to get rid of negative thoughts, but the truth is that I don’t. What I can do is remind myself that they exist, and that things are much better for me when I acknowledge this.
At this point in my mental health journey, negative thoughts are persistent. They’re always around, looking to inflict some damage. Sometimes I handle those thoughts in a solid, healthy way; other times, those thoughts get to me and I have to reset and try again. But either way, acknowledging that negative thoughts exist has been far better for my mental health than pretending they don’t.
That’s one of the things that’s at the heart of my approach to mental health: knowing what you’re up against is half the battle. Just knowing that is enough to get you to the next moment, the next time to gear up again. This is definitely true when it comes to negative thoughts. It might not be simple to deal with them, but it can get easier over time. Negative thoughts might be persistent, but so am I. And I don’t go down without a fight.