- Mental Health
Is Your Thinkin’ Stinkin’?
Negative thinking is a tough habit to break. Distorted thinking, all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing and black or white thinking all fall into the category of “stinkin’ thinkin’. I have had a really hard time combating my seemingly constant barrage of negative, self-defeating thoughts, but recently I have successfully been able to replace these negative thoughts with rational, well-reasoned ones. At the beginning, I’ve been told it takes a conscious effort, but that over time, it becomes more automatic.
A little background on depression...
The research states that there are three types of depression:
- Character-Related Depression
This is the most prevalent form of depression and is caused by ingrained, negative beliefs about ourselves leading to thoughts such as, “I don’t deserve to be loved”, “I’ll never have a healthy relationship” and “I am totally overwhelmed and will never be productive” … Since these beliefs about our character defects have developed over the course of our life, character-related depression is the toughest to kick and takes time and tenacity, as it frequently reoccurs.
- Reactive Depression
This type of depression often occurs as a result of a traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one, or other highly stressful situation, and a stubborn refusal to accept that the loss is real. Time tends to alleviate this type of depression, but it often results in sufferers having serious trouble completing routine, day-to-day tasks and functioning normally in society.
- Biological Depression
Those suffering from biological depression often experience physical symptoms including sleep disruption and a loss or increase in appetite. These symptoms are frequently serious enough to cause sufferers problems functioning in daily life and prevent them from participating in social situations and at work. This type of depression occurs due to a chemical imbalance in the brain and is commonly associated with a family history of depression. Studies have shown that biological depression is more prevalent in alcoholics and family members of alcoholics.
A “Fragrant” Future Is Possible
All too frequently we tend to have a number of negative beliefs that lead to self-downing attitudes and negative interpretations and responses to events. Negative belief systems comprise both unrealistic demands and negative exaggerations. We believe that we should have complete control over our lives, the situations we encounter as a part of it, over other people and our feelings. Negative exaggerations cause us to experience unfortunate or uncomfortable events as major catastrophes blowing them completely out of proportion. Rational Emotive Behavioral Theory (REBT), developed by Albert Ellis in 1955, is an approach to sorting out the relationship between our thoughts and feelings. He maintains that we interpret events based on our thoughts and beliefs and that this in turn triggers an emotional response that can be negative, neutral or positive. REBT stresses actively working to alter in individual’s self-defeating beliefs and behaviors by demonstrating their irrationality, self-defeating nature and inflexibility. Ellis believed that through logical analysis and rebuilding cognitive processes, people could understand their self-defeating, irrational behaviors and responses to events. They would then be able to construct more rational, logical and reasonable ways of responding.
You can banish that “stinkin’ thinkin’ by working hard to counter negative thoughts with more rational and positive ones. It takes time and constant practice, but a “fragrant future” is possible with courage and perseverance.