Coping with depression – Challenge negative thinking.
Coping with depression is difficult for most people because depressed people experience a lot of
negative thinking. Negative thinking is when you evaluate yourself, your behaviour, events,
things around you in a negative way. Negative thinking makes everything look tougher, heavier,
uglier, not exciting and literally drains your energy when you only think of it. By challenging
negative thinking you are effectively coping with depression, if you do it right.
But first things first:
1. Lower your expectations: By lowering your expectations of yourself or others,
you will experience less disappointment and failure. The higher you aim the bigger
the chance to fail, it’s that simple. For now, it’s important to start with a task and to
finish it, rather than to worry about delivering the best product ever. By lowering
your expectations, you experience more success and success boosts your mood
and self-esteem. If you have difficulty lowering your expectations, then contact a
friend and ask them if you’re aiming too high for now. Coping with depression is all
about being realistic.
2. Stop punishing yourself: If you fail to finish something, if you can’t do certain
home chores or cancel an appointment because you can’t get yourself out of bed,
then don’t punish yourself for it. Realize that you are depressed right now and that
it is difficult for you to do the things you used to do when you weren’t depressed.
Instead, focus on the things you achieved! You started the task, you Made the
appointment and there are other home chores you Managed to do.
HOW TO CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THINKING?
1. Write down when and where you are starting to think negative about yourself or
your behaviour. For example: At 5PM when I was at home I got a text from Walter.
He invited me for a drink.
2. Write down what you thought. Try to be as accurate as possible. For example: Oh
no, I can’t. I am such a loser, I can’t get a job and I am very boring company. I
always make a fool of myself around Walter.
3. Write down for every single thought you had how much you think this thought is
true (0-100%). I am such a loser (true: 100%), I can’t get a job (80%), I am very
boring company (75%). etc.
4. Write down evidence to proof that this thought is actually true. For example:
Arguments for: “I am such a loser”: I think I will never get a job, I have no friends, I
can’t get a girlfriend, I have debts.
5. Write down evidence to proof that this thought is actually not true. For example:
Arguments against: “I am such a loser”: I’ve had a job for 15 years. People invite
me for BBQ’s or drinks. I’ve had 3 long relationships in the past. I have a Bachelor
in Economy etc.
6. Compare the arguments for and against and try to eliminate everything you can’t
use as hard evidence. So, erase: “I think I will never get a job” and “I can’t get a
girlfriend” <– these are not true (see Arguments against). I have no friends is open
for debate since people are still inviting you over. And so on… Eventually you’ll
see that your feelings/thoughts are far too negative.
7. Find a more balanced thought: Instead of “I am such a loser” you could use: “At
the moment I feel down”. Do this for every thought.