(Bear with me, this is actually a positive post) A few months ago it was no epiphany when I realized how negative my thinking has been. It has been that way for years. What was new was I thought, Why? Why can’t I have a positive thought without immediately following it up with a negative one? That is when I googled, Negative thinking and up popped the list of 10 common cognitive distortions. That was not news to me but I was surprised by how much my thinking usually falls into at least several of the categories at once. Especially when I am depressed or have high anxiety and then it turns into a feedback loop where that kind of thinking makes my anxiety and depression worse. Then I got a little pissed because I’ve had several therapists start with the thought distortions and I would say yes, I do all of that but that was the end of it. None of them ever suggested there was a way to combat the negative thinking. And my distorted brain said, oh well, I’m just fucked up and there is nothing I can do about it. To be honest I’ve had more severe issues but there has been plenty of time along the way to pick up on the subject. Anyway, I’m working on it. I’m really trying.
I didn’t sleep last night but I stayed in bed as long as possible. I made coffee pretty early and turned on the World Wide Web. I was surprised to see a lot of people had already put up their blog posts. I like when that happens because I like to read and stimulate my brain while I stimulate my brain. This morning I wasn’t in the mood to add to my own negativity so skimmed through, reading the previews and skipped a bunch. (Sorry if I didn’t give you a like today) I’m sure I get skipped a lot for the same reason.
Two blogs stood out. They were both about gratitude and they were both very short. One was a reminder to be grateful for what you have and the other I thought was really good. It was from someone who usually doesn’t post along that theme. It just said, “Things I am grateful for this week.” And listed off six or seven simple things. It made me happy.
I rant a lot here but I’m not a total Negative Nellie. Since the same realization a few months ago I’ve have been purposely thinking of things that make me happy. That’s where the problem with the automatic negative thoughts comes in. I think of one thing, “BUT”, another thought to detract from it. The more I try to stop it the more forceful it is. I was very aware of it this morning and I wanted to get it right. I started with the obvious, My daughter, my ex-wife, my mom, BUT, I fucked that all up. What kind of dad, husband, son am I? Like come on now. Shit happens in life. We all have great relationships now. Can’t I just be happy with that?
Now it was really starting to bother me and I searched something. It said try to start with something small that was good today. That was easy. I eat fruit everyday. Yesterday I went to the store for food and all the fruit was fresh and perfectly ripe and I got home and every time I looked in the fridge I thought how I couldn’t wait to start eating this in the morning. I thought of that and I was so happy while I was eating it. My favorite apples were back, Oranges so juicy, my mom talked me into buying bananas which I wasn’t sure about but yeah, that was good too. BUT remember last week you got those peaches that looked so good but the next morning they had mold and some fruit flies? What the hell? It wasn’t even a conscious thought. It just popped into my head. It wasn’t a big deal at the time. I threw the peaches in the trash and thought, oh well, I’ll have to find another fruit. I did. Bananas, and they were good. What is wrong with me?
I tried a couple more searches but the pages I found had pop up ads trying to sell you online courses before you could even finish the first sentence. At least I’m not the only one having a problem with this. I thought of one more simple search. “How to practice gratitude.” This was very helpful. www.mindful.org
The site is trying to sell you a lot but the page I found was free, long, well written and step by step. The first step was about are you aware of how you say thank you.. Yes. I always say thank you and mean it. Even to the woman from my doctor’s office who was rude to me yesterday. I said, “thank you for calling me back.” She didn’t have to, it was late on a Friday. Whatever. That’s not what it was about. I picked up my phone and texted my daughter. I already said, I love you, this morning. I typed, “I am so happy I know you.” Then I sent a message to my ex-wife, “Thank you for putting up with me”, my phone beeped right back, “cause I love you”. that made me start to tear up. “Thank you again”. I texted my mom, “Thank you for talking to me every day.”
It worked. I was feeling better. It’s not new for me. I’ve been sending people random positive texts since I started trying to think more positively. I thought I was trying to make them feel better. I didn’t know it was making me feel better. Even the last time I was at my daughter’s house, her and her mom were busting my balls asking if I bought a book of inspirational quotes. I don’t send stuff you would find like that. Just simple messages I think will make them smile or stress less.
The list has some good ideas. Some of them are simple, some of them I couldn’t see myself trying. One was so simple I felt stupid. Use visuals of things that make you happy. I looked around my computer desk and it was covered with crap. I have a lot of pictures of my daughter in my room but none out here. I ran and got one. A school picture. It’s funny. I remember she was so happy when she got glasses and braces. What a weirdo. I think it is because it made her feel unique.
I feel better now. It didn’t solve all my problems but it helped get me through the day.