At some point today, you may have labeled yourself in a negative way. You might have thought, "I'm so stupid," or "I'm such a mess." self-talk like this is often destructive and unproductive. In this blog post, we'll discuss why it's important to avoid negative self-labels and how you can start using more positive language instead. Negative labels can be incredibly harmful to our mental health. Each time we call ourselves something bad, we're essentially putting a limit on what we think we're capable of. In this post, we'll discuss some of the most common negative labels and we know that they're so destructive. We'll also explore ways to reframe these thoughts and start viewing ourselves in a more positive light. Are you ready to begin? Let's go!
What are some negative labels you’ve attributed to yourself today? I’m a loser I’m a failure I’m worthless I’m a burden I’m useless I’m stupid I’m not good enough I’m always angry I’m so lazy I’m so dumb I’m such a hopeless case REMINDER: For each of these labels, replace “I am [negative label]” with “I feel [negative label] right now”. This is an important step in starting to speak more kindly to yourself What is one or more good things you’ve done today?
For example, being there for a friend in need, cooking your children dinner, making a co-worker smile at work, helping a customer with a problem they’re having, opening a door and letting someone else go in before you, putting your rubbish in the recycling bin, etcetera
What is one or more things you did today (which depression makes) was really difficult to do?
For example, getting out of bed, having a shower, doing the dishes, going to work, cooking dinner, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, etc Given your answers to the previous two questions, what positive characteristics have you displayed today? For example, if you helped a friend in need, then it means that you’re kind, caring and supportive; if you opened a door and let someone in before you, then it means that you’re polite; if you got out of bed and had a shower when you were feeling extremely “depression tired”, then it means that you’re resilient; etc Remember that many people with depression try to ignore or bury their thoughts - particularly negative ones - in the hope that they'll eventually go away. However, this is not how thoughts work! Why? Because the reason we as people have thoughts to begin with is to help us navigate our way through the world. For this reason, if we have a problem or something that’s troubling us, it’s natural for our thoughts to gravitate towards whatever that is – to try to process what’s going on and figure out a solution. Consequently, your thoughts cannot be suppressed forever - they need to come out - and as soon as your stop distracting your mind from them, they inevitably will. Not only that, but when they eventually do come out, they're also likely going to be much, much more intense and unmanageable than they would have been if rather than trying to ignore or bury your thoughts for so long, you'd instead set aside time to periodically address them. It can be really helpful to challenge your negative thoughts, by: Asking yourself: What evidence is there to suggest that this negative thought is false? •For example, let's say you have the negative thought "I snapped at my daughter this morning, so that means I’m a terrible parent". However, evidence to the contrary might be: •"While I regret snapping at my daughter this morning, it does not mean that I’m a terrible parent. It’s unrealistic to expect myself to behave perfectly all of the time, and when I don’t behave perfectly, it does not automatically mean that I’m 'terrible'." •"Even though I snapped at my daughter this morning, throughout the previous week I’ve helped her with her homework, cooked her favourite dinner and taken her and her friends to the movies – all of which proves that I’m actually a very good parent." Secondly, you could ask yourself: Is there a more positive, accurate way that I could be viewing this situation or circumstance? This is because in most circumstances, there usually is. •For example, to stick with the same example of snapping at your daughter, a more positive, accurate way of viewing this incident might be: "The reason I snapped at my daughter this morning was because I was really stressed about my job interview today. This is very understandable, and does not mean that I’m a terrible parent. In the “big picture”, this incident is really not a very big deal – but even still, when I see my daughter tonight I’ll tell her that I’m sorry. Thirdly, you could ask yourself: If a friend was in my position, would I be telling them the same negative things that I'm currently telling myself? This has the effect of distancing yourself from your thoughts and looking at them from a different, more objective angle – and when you do this, you'll often realise that you’re being really, really hard on yourself.
*For example, if your friend snapped at their daughter in the morning, then would you conclude that they're a terrible parent? You almost certainly wouldn’t, which highlights that it isn't fair to conclude this about yourself, either.
Challenging your negative thoughts like so is an important part of "mental self-care", as opposed to ignoring your negative thoughts or distracting yourself away from it. A nice metaphor to help you retain all this information would be ~ to consider these negative thoughts as the trouble your car gives you when you try to start it.Imagine what happens to the car if you repeatedly ignore what it is saying to you.Sooner or later, the car will suffer breakdown if it’s problems are not addressed at the right time.This is why cars in UK have MOT tests. Is it time for an emotional MOT for you? Book a call with me & lets talk.
With love, peace and gratitude always,