Are you feeling overwhelmed? Do you tend to overthink things? Depression is like a tug-of-war between short periods of happiness and fits of sadness that don't seem to end. Here's how to overcome such periods of low mood:
1: Stop choosing negative thoughts
Most depressive people (unwillingly, but strongly) focus on negative circumstances, negative events or negative things happening to them. Pessimistic thinking is a typical feature of depression. However, most depressed people are not aware that the negative emotions they feel are always flowing from their negative thoughts. Negative thinking is one of the strongest of habit patterns and by thinking a negative thought, we are actually always making an active choice. In order to overcome depression, you will need to consciously choose more positive thoughts. Here's how to do this:
2: choose more positive thoughts:
One of the most powerful tools in overcoming a depression is to understand how powerful your thinking is. The quickest way to change how you feel is to change how you think. It is nearly impossible to control how you feel, but it's always possible to control how you think. The first step is to be aware of the importance of the thoughts you are thinking. The next step is to consciously choose more positive thoughts. You will probably need a few days to assess the amount and degree of your negative thoughts. Here's how you can do this:
- Each time you feel bad, stop for a moment and ask yourself: What am I thinking right now? What was I thinking a few minutes ago? What was I focused on just now? What did I give my attention to? There is always an underlying negative thought which is causing you to feel bad. In most cases, however, we are not aware of these negative thoughts, as they have become automatic.
- Keep a journal. Write down as many instances of negative thinking that you can identify. Also take down any self-criticism that you may have.
- Learn to identify the moments where you are focusing more on a problem than on a solution. Write down the thoughts you have, for example "I know I am unable to do this". Most depressive people tend to think in black-and-white. Make sure you identify these thoughts and write them down.
- The next step is to take each negative thought that you wrote down and find another thought that makes you feel better. For example, if you thought "I will never find a partner" you could think something like "I will now focus more on myself". Overcoming a depression largely depends on finding new thoughts that will make you feel better. You have to 'feel your way into this' and always watch out for thoughts that will make you feel slightly better. Converting negative to positive thinking is easy if you take small steps. It's easier to believe that you are now focusing on yourself than to believe that you will find a partner soon. After you have created some relief by thinking a slightly more positive thought over a period of time, this positive thought will gain momentum and it will then be able to dominate the way you feel.
3: Listen to your inner guidance
For depressive people it is very important to strengthen their connection with their inner guidance. You can do this by quietening your mind and tuning in to your emotions. This works especially well in the early hours of the morning, but you can also practice this throughout the day. Each time you feel sad, hopeless or helpless, stop for a moment and choose to reconnect with yourself. Slow down your mind, drop in your body and start to feel more. Allow your inner feelings to guide your actions and decisions. Here are some tips on how you can start to build this relationship with your own inner guidance:
- When you make decisions, simply notice how you feel. Try to find out which option makes you feel good and which options makes you feel uncomfortable. Your inner guidance is like a loyal dog, trying to show you the right way. It is doing this by gently pulling you into the right direction.
- Choose to tune into this energy within you moment by moment. Remind yourself throughout the day to take a deep breath, drop your attention in to your body and listen to the subtle signs your inner guidance is trying to give you.
- Learn to trust your inner guidance. The more you trust the subtle signs, the more you will be able to follow them. Once you start reconnecting with your inner guidance, you will be reconnecting with who you really are. The ability to know inwardly what to think and do comes partly with experience. Continue to listen quietly within yourself. Recognise the three kind of feelings that indicate true guidance: Calmness, clarity and joy.
I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I offer psychotherapy and couples therapy in English. I currently offer all my counselling sessions online, over the phone as well face-to-face. To contact me, you can send me an email or call me: +49 40 40 46090233. (Please don't forget to send me your phone number and the times I can reach you). I look forward to hearing from you!