When we’re not feeling well, our thoughts seem entirely believable and convincing. They are the truth! Here is a simple test to make the point that thoughts are not facts, and we don’t need to take them so seriously.
Here is a list of common negative thoughts adapted from Hollon and Kandall 1980. Look through the list and how believable they seem at this moment. Rate it for yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being highest.
Automatic Negative Thoughts
1. I feel like I’m up against the world
2. I’m no good
3. What can’t I ever succeed?
4. No one understands me.
5. I’ve let people down.
6. I don’t think I can go on.
7. I wish I were a better person
8. I’m so weak
9. My life’s not going the way I want it to
10. I’m so disappointed in myself
11. Nothing feels good anymore
12. I can’t stand this anymore
13. I can’t get started
14. What’s wrong with me?
15. I wish I were somewhere else.
16. I can’t get things together
17. I hate myself.
18. I’m worthless.
19. I wish I could just disappear
20. What’s the matter with me?
21. I’m a loser
22. My life is a mess.
23. I’m a failure
24. I’ll never make it.
25. I feel so helpless.
26. Something has to change.
27. There must be something wrong with me.
28. My future is bleak.
29. It’s just not worth it.
30. I can’t finish anything.
If you are not as depressed as you have been, how strongly, if at all, do you believe each of these thoughts RIGHT NOW?
When you were at your worst (most anxious or depressed), how strongly did you believe these then?
More often than not, these are much less convincing and believable when we’re feeling well, leaving us to the inevitable conclusion that these thoughts are not facts and we can acknowledge their presence when they come visit us and let them be, knowing that we don’t have to get dragged through the mud with them. Gently bring attention back to what is most important to pay attention to in that moment. You may do this over and over again holding a sense of compassion and kindness toward yourself during this process.
As always, please share your thoughts and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.