When navigating depression or anxiety loops (those thought patterns that we tend to go back to), it is good to remember that we don’t have to believe everything we think.
Our loops tend to go pretty dark, pretty fast:
“You never do anything right.”
“You are a failure.”
“You are too sensitive.”
“No one likes you.”
“What’s the point, you won’t ever get it right.”
“You are a bad mother/ father/ friend/ daughter/ son/ spouse.”
“You are worthless.”
“You are unlovable.”
Or the anxiety loops:
“Your leg hurts - it is definitely cancer”
“She is looking at you weird- she will never talk to you again”
“He didn’t pick up the phone- he is hurt and suffering”
Thoughts can contribute to our suffering. There is this idea of pluralism (my new favorite word) that two things can be believed as true at the same time. You can believe: “You never do anything right.” While also naming several things you can do right: “I do a decent job at work” or “I am a good friend”.
An Idea, A solution:
Listen to our bodies and try to figure out what we are feeling – the truth. Our feelings are true. You are sad, scared, angry, embarrassed, disappointed, jealous, frustrated, defeated. Name the truth – name the feeling. And THEN give yourself some compassion and self-love. Allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to just “sit in it’. Allow yourself to name what you need in that moment: a hug, a TV marathon, a run, a warm bath, a good book, a good conversation with a friend, a nap, a glass of wine. All these are valid self-care and self-love acts – and there are hundreds more.
Give yourself the PERMISSION to feel what you are feeling and the COMPASSION to take care of you. Stop beating yourself up, stop bullying yourself.
Now, there is a reason those thoughts are there in the first place. Probably decades of negative self-talk that doesn’t just go away because you want it to (or because you read a blog telling you to stop being mean to yourself). There are ways to retrain your brain and the pathways to more positive thoughts. Professionals are there to help you navigate this journey when you are ready.
To start, allow yourself to believe that you don’t have to believe the negative loops. You don’t have to believe everything you think.
I feel like I am often on repeat when talking about the cycle of anxiety – so I figured, why not share my white board with everyone else to benefit as well. Here are a few [snapshot] steps to managing and accepting your anxiety.