Are you a black and white thinker?
I’m ill with a horrible chest bug, feeling flat, even being negative!
Being a self depreciating, not good enough fraud.
It’s all rubbish, of course.
You know the familiar pattern of beating ourselves up for not being perfect, not reaching our own expectations, or reaching our own goals quickly enough.
Then there is the ‘ill’ combined with not enough sleep, paralyzing logical thought.
Trapped in fearing the worst and having no control of life.
And I lost it with the kids… quietly (headache remember?) But they wouldn’t let me be! In BED. They wanted me to join them, with the cardboard box den they were building in the sitting room., they wanted me to watch Star Treck 1972 cartoon with them, They wanted hugs, they wanted a mediator for the fights, they wanted me to keep them in order. They needed me, but I needed rest. As I lay in my bed upstairs listening to them reconstruct the sitting room, I had time to reflect on how lucky I am.
Instead of sleeping, which was impossible with the noise and interruptions, I did my own work, I STOPPED BEING THE VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
My list of gratitude, re-framing my negative self-talk into positives and writing down all the negative feelings till I re-framed them or could let them go (for today at least) was a valuable hour spent.
Life is an interesting journey. I reminded myself that I am not in a hurry to ‘Get There’. This precious time I have (even feeling ill) has given me plenty to reflect on.
So what is all this all or nothing black and white thinking?
When something happens, we can attribute certain things to it in our understanding.
Here are some examples with explanations:
Internal - eg It is my fault….
External - it’s someone elses fault/the world/Trump/Brexit
Global - my whole life is ruined
Specific - The kids have drawn on the walls but I can wash it off…
So for a depressive thinking style, a person will attribute internal, global stable beliefs about the situation - eg I’m such a lousy mother, my children will grow up being delinquents, and attract attention to themselves by being disruptive. They will be a failure in life….
And with a good event - will attribute external, specific and unstable beliefs such as ‘My friend came round to babysit so I could rest -They did it because they felt sorry for me, and they’ll never do it again because my children are so disruptive, and they won’t stay being my friend. And I won’t be able to rest because someone else is in the house which is so messy and dirty…..
What can we do about this kind of thinking?
1.The first thing to help is to find ways to relax.
A lot of it comes from not having enough deep sleep, and constantly worrying about things. The thought responses are coming from highly emotional mental exhaustion, and nothing new can be learned in this anxious state.
This is where hypnotherapy can really help, or even self-hypnosis, which I can teach. Also gentle exercise every day, or meditation. The usual things.
2. Being able to observe our own thoughts.
This is one of the wonderful things about being human. One way of doing this is to put a scale to the severity of the thing you are worrying about. 1 - 10. What severity is it going to affect you in the next (week/6 months/year) Why? (eg Brexit/ect.)
Questions you could ask yourself when you have stated your life is ruined, it’s a total disaster could be:
How could it be even worse? Think of 5 or 10 possibilities… look at them and how likely are they?
What did you do to stop the situation being even worse?
On a scale of 1 - 10, how bad is it really?
3. Eating in a way that keeps blood sugar levels stable.
If you don’t, blood sugar levels peak and drop so you feel jittery and anxious when they are up high, and you feel hungry and exhausted when they are low. Often this leads to craving sweet carbohydrates such as chocolate, and cakes which continue the cycle. By minimising sugar and eating proteins and fats at every meal, eating complex carbs that are high in fibre, you can stabilise your blood sugar and this in turn helps you think clearly, consistently.
4. Finally what you can do practically to solve a problem or address a problem, (as simple as picking up the phone and asking questions) gives you back a sense of control in your life.
Of course as humans we are naturally problem solvers, but when we are in a pit of depression, we feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness as everything is in such a black and white perspective. You need to be able to see the greys or even the colours... All the tips in the world won’t help you unless you make a change, one step at a time.
If you are feeling helpless and hopeless, take one small step today - start with finding time to relax your mind. I have a lovely relaxing hypnotherapy audio available on my website at www.becky-booth.com Sign up to receive it in your email box, and give it a listen. You can unsubscribe at any time .