Friday, November 16, 2012

The stranglehold of Negative Thinking

Tia is undergoing a very difficult phase since the last six months.She is plagued by negative thoughts.She knows they are not founded on reality,she also knows they are playing havoc with her body & mind as well as her relationships;but she is unable to break the circuit.She suffered a bout of illness before all this started.It lasted for a few days.She had another relapse after a fortnight but she has been symptom-free since then.

Symptom-free from the original illness but not from this malady which was spawned by that illness--the cycle of negative thinking.It has taken charge of her subconscious, coloring her musings in shades of black & black.She is scared that she will fall sick again,become incapacitated,dependent on others & unable to fulfill her obligations.This has robbed her of so many activities which added to the quality of her life.

One day i sat her down & asked her to go to the genesis of her problem.When did these thoughts take root?What was the situation when this happened?Is it the same now?Has it improved or deteriorated?The answers to these questions will tell her if there is any real cause for worry.Most important of all--she has lived through that massive attack on her health. Isn't she better equipped now to handle a repeat of that trauma if at all it were to recur?She needs to keep the contact numbers of her doctor,the ambulance & a dependable escort handy if this happens  again.These steps are likely to add to her sense of alarm temporarily,but in the long run they will give her a feeling of being in control.

Come to think of it,Tia is not the only one in this quandary.Many people go through their lives mechanically--all the while consumed with destructive inner dialogues.These thoughts could relate to their own personalities,an untoward incident that happened in the past, or probable happenings in the future.Whatever be the thoughts,their effects follow a more or less similar pattern.

It works like this:the memory of a distressing event is stored in our subconscious.Recalling it again & again is like scraping a wound.When we obsess about a traumatic event we inflict upon our mind,the same pain which we suffered originally.This is masochistic behavior.As & when we have time,we visit this painful spot & wallow there.Constant focus on doleful scenarios leads to an increase in the flow of negative hormones like cortisol & adrenaline, causing a perpetual state of preparedness.The person is jittery,always on edge.This distorts his responses to the countless stimuli which accost him.As a result his relationships,peace of mind,physical health & opportunities to advance in life suffer.He loses faith in his own capability to cope with life situations & achieve something worthwhile.Entangled in the cycle of negative thinking,he becomes gloomy & pessimistic.
Negative Thoughts About Self A lot of negative self talk concerns our self-image.If we are dejected about our body & physical features then we can take help from this site.But I would like to remind you that it is not our looks,but our nature & inner qualities which determine whether we are loved,popular and successful.
Very often,it is our capabilities & weaknesses which are the cause of our dejection.We think we are not smart,intelligent,confident or gregarious enough to succeed.This mars our performance & stilts our progress.It helps to realize that our own analysis of our capabilities could stem from our lack of self confidence .It may not be true at all.

Obsessing about Past Events
For a person who has lived through an abusive childhood it is almost impossible to forget it.Naturally it generates a lot of negative thinking.
One's past mistakes or blunders when recalled again and again have the effect of destroying one's peace of mind.It would be hard to find a man or woman who did not commit a mistake or face failure.But some people go back to such instances again & again and condemn themselves.Actually they are seeking atonement for their lapses by torturing themselves;but in this way they spoil their present as well as their future;for how can a mind besotted with guilt think clear?

Ominous Thoughts about Future
These too can be very disturbing.They prevent a person from enjoying happy times because he is always fearful that his luck will run out & some tragedy will befall him.The root cause of this tendency could lie in his childhood when he was castigated for every little mistake & made to feel worthless.Such children grow up feeling they do not deserve any happiness--hence these thoughts.The remedy for this lies in going back to their childhood,understanding the situation & training their thoughts anew.

Getting over Negative Thinking

1) Disparaging self talk has to be substituted by positive assertions-it is obvious.Therefore write down all your positive traits & accomplishments to date & read them every day.Be objective & honest while penning them.You will soon realize that you are not such a loser after all & be rid of the cobwebs in your personality.

2) Also, write down the constituents of your negative self-image. Ask a trusted friend if your self opinion is based on facts.You might be pleasantly surprised!Undertake to disprove one negative thought every day & see your self image brightening.

3) If you want to snap out of negative thinking,observe the triggers which ignite morbid thoughts.Be alert when you come face-to-face with them so that you can prevent your thoughts from going haywire.

4) Whenever you find yourself terrified at the prospect of an impending calamity pause & think"Is my conclusion rational?Am i being objective?Would someone else in my place also have identical fears?What chances are there of this event taking place?"
In case you are being irrational or hyper-sensitive,this little bit of introspection will assuage your fears.

5) When you are staggering under the weight of damaging thoughts  you feel a vague sense of doom.But if you were to name the issues which are troubling you,they will certainly fall short of your general opinion about the quality of your life.If you note down in a diary every day what is eating your mind,you will soon realize that life is not all that bad,that many of those issues are not so serious,& you are making progress.Even if you have not made any headway, seeing it in black & white will give a fillip to your efforts.

6)Negative thinking is least active when you are mindfully employed in an activity of your choice.At such times you forget about the hurts of past or fears of future.You will even forget to condemn yourself!Therefore one way of breaking the cycle of morbid rumination is to find an activity which enthralls you.

7) Meditation , Yoga & Pranayam are great mind soothers.

8) Belief in a benevolent Super Power can aid the religiously inclined to find solace in the thought that God will see to their welfare-they don't need to worry.

9) For a person beleaguered by negative thinking,it is a good idea to go through a health check up because poor health too,can induce pessimism.If you suffers from an ailment then suitable treatment will lift your spirits.If there is no anomaly, then too you can heave a sigh of relief & focus upon nurturing your mind.

10) A healthy routine & a nutritious diet are also essential for a fit body,mind & soul--no substance abuse.

11) When the mind is in turmoil, clear thinking & decision taking become difficult.One needs to have a strong will power & insight in order to heave oneself out of this spot.If you find it difficult to do this on your own then tap some other avenue for help.A psychologist or a counselor can assist you to go to the depths of your problem,relinquish negative thinking & adopt better modes of thinking & behavior .Cognitive Behavior Therapy is very helpful for modifying faulty behavior patterns.

12) Lastly,whenever overpowered by pessimism,think instead of the good facets of your life.It could be a simple thing like possessing a normal body & intelligence,a roof over your head,a job or a source of income,or education,or certain relationships you enjoy.

A sense of doom & gloom is a huge handicap--no one knows it better than the sufferer.You may have everything & yet feel sad,empty,useless & hopeless.The root cause  lies in your thoughts,because according to psychologists it is thoughts which spawn your emotions & emotions make your moods.Therefore curtailing negative inner dialogues should be the first priority.Happiness is waiting for you---you only has to lift this pall of injurious self-talk!

Pic courtesy google.

42 comments :

  1. Self inflicted depression is a major cause of concern these days and playing havoc with many lives. We depend upon so many external things to establish our self worth, which can be pretty dangerous if not handled properly, very informative article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Self inflicted depression is the term for it Meenakshi-you are bang on!!!!!

      Delete
  2. What turned the tables for me in childhood was Jerome K Jerome's 'Three men in a boat'! It starts with his reading a medical encyclopedia and imagining that he had every disease in it at varying levels of seriousness except 'Housemaid's knee' and worrying about it :) That one hilarious chapter put the whole thing of building up gloom for yourself in perspective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah now i know the secret of your jovial nature!I hope some more make use of your formula.

      Delete
  3. hmmmm well I have written in my posts about my schooling days etc and all when I was young, I think its about ones own personality how they react or what they learn from a situation.. I have been a idiot all my life but now I guess its the white hair, I am learning :)

    So now I dont think too much, I feel the more we think we get depressed. Sometimes we ask ourself a question, but the reply we give ourself is WHAT we want it to be and that is dangerous , cause it does not work like that ..


    so Now I smile and laugh and be merry .. everything can wait ..

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bikramjit you underrate yourself.

      It is true that too much thinking can be depressing.You have adopted a good motto to be happy.

      Delete
  4. Depression and such psychological terms are really difficult to understand but I just wonder that there are many easy ways to keep away from all this stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kumar you have taken up a nice way of helping people with their blogs to find satisfaction.

      Delete
  5. Great as always! Thank you Indu:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for this encouraging comment!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Way to go, Indu! These posts are great for the mind. You are so right about finding something that gives joy. For me it is music. I have begun playing the veena after over three decades! It is as good as meditation, because there is absolutely no thought! And there is no need to concentrate or anything, Just let the fingers dance on the strings :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh Wow ! I would love to hear you play.I should take down my guitar now,what about a duet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guitar? Now you are speaking....er....playing! I think a duet would be a wonderful idea. I don't know about you, but my fingers need some time to come to terms with the strings :D

      Delete
    2. Every time i take it out of the cobwebs i am a learner once again.

      Delete
  9. Hmm nyc post.. And vry usefull in recent streddfull lyf.. U gave gd point one of my frnd also feel lyk tia nowdays... And i can understand this situation vry well,, thanx keep writing.. And visit my blog

    ReplyDelete
  10. Replies
    1. DrZakir welcome to jeeteraho & thank you.

      Delete
  11. Very true Indu! When one is depressed, everything looks hopeless. It is time to turn to happy memories, loving people and soothing passtimes to bounce back. A good post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rachna you have summarized it beautifully!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Superb post Indu. It makes perfect sense. "one way of breaking the cycle of morbid rumination is to find an activity which enthralls us" I perfectly agree. A simple thing like a jigsaw puzzle could be very effective in handling such situations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a good reminder--puzzles,crosswords,sudoku & Rubik's Cube are all so engrossing!

      Delete
  14. Reading this post reminded me of so many situations where I have felt negative or suffered a low self esteem. I turned to books - spiritual and philosophical, which helped me cope with negativity in my life and changed my attitude towards life completely.

    I now understand that sometimes a person reaches rock bottom, where nothing seems to be bringing peace of mind..but I also know that it's not the end of the world. While most of us love self pity and therefore never get out of a 'sad frame of mind', those who genuinely want to seek peace and happiness achieve so with will and determination.

    Negative thoughts can be replaced with positive ones with a little practice. I was reading this somewhere recently that whenever a negative thought comes in the mind, pinch yourself. Gradually, the brain will understand that negative thoughts invite physical pain and it will refrain from thinking negatively. I will be positive and believe that should work .. at least good to start with! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swati you have found your own mantra of getting over negativity which is very good.Different things work for different people & your suggestion of pinching yourself is also very good.

      Delete
  15. I think after a while, such a behaviour becomes addictive. Imagining the worst possible scenarios, torturing yourself with your thoughts! It's so scary!

    Help is round the corner only if you take the first step.

    Glad you broached this subject.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right,sometimes even a melancholic state feels like a comfort zone to some people.

      Delete
  16. Hey Indu very nice post ... Can u share ur email address with me...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Khushbu welcome to jeeteraho,thanks for your praise.
      My email is indu.sahyog@gmail.com

      Delete
  17. Indu...Imagination is one of the most incredible tools the human brain has but how we misuse it sometimes is incredible!
    A wonderful article indeed. And the good news is that persistent inner work can change habits of thinking. The only thing is that we should be willing to put energy and time to pursue positive thinking....
    The mind has a strange energy. The way we think determines the state of mind...:))) Incredible...Thanks for sharing..
    Lovely blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Panchali our mind can be put to all sorts of uses.If only all those who feel gloomy most of the time could snap out of it.The destination could be so near,but it is so far for some.One feels bad for such sufferers.

      Delete
  18. Interesting article, Indu and so true.

    Another scenario is when it deals with the demise of a loved one. Sometimes one tends to feel one is not honoring the departed one by forgetting the sadness and enjoying life.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yes you are right,it does happen;although the departed ones would not like us to lose our zest for life.
    Thank you TF.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lovely post,Induji. Reminded me of my days, when I went through reading Artist way by Julia Cameron and trying to follow some of her suggestions. It helped a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you Pattu,for your support.I am glad you liked it .

    ReplyDelete
  22. A very thoughtful post Indu! Many people are afflicted by negativity but one has to learn to appreciate what god has given and thank him for that rather than compare with others and keep feeling low! The attitude towards life is more important to remain cheerful:)

    ReplyDelete
  23. When I looked at the subject and the length of the post, I realised it is not something I read in a jiffy. I kept it for reading in quiet and am glad I did that. Very useful post, Indu. Much needed in these days of stress. I think I should print it out and read it to myself whenever I feel low. I try to be positive by reading books and blogging, but still the unhappiness over things not happening the way I desire always persists. I wish I could come over it soon. Thanks once again. Hugs to you for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you Latha for this heart-felt comment.It is true that things do not go our way sometimes,but ultimately we Hindus believe that whatever happens,happens for the best.This is calming to a certain extent.
    Lots of love to YOU !

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have missed out on so many blogs Indu ji just have been a bit too busy
    yes you are right there are so many Tia's and Rita's these days who are facing this problem they should go about it positively and understand that life is too precious to be squandered away in self inflicted depression and sadness ---what is required is to gather oneself up and face life as it comes---I would say let past be forgotten

    ReplyDelete
  26. You have summed it up nicely Rajni,thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm glad someone sincere like you is doing this type of work. Mental health is dreadfully neglected in our country.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you shovonc,it was a pleasure to read your comment.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading,how about commenting?