We tend to think negatively more than thinking and finding the positives in our lives, we are quick to think negatively and tell ourselves we are bad and shouldn’t do things, we can talk ourselves out of doing things, we judge ourselves and therefore our self worth suffers, we don’t think we can do certain things so put ourselves down, when in reality we are more than capable of doing things we just choose not to. The result is that opportunities are missed and choices get chosen for us.
We change and influence our lives by our feelings and when we are stuck in negative thinking, it can cause further damage to our self esteem and our confidence. Here are a few ways we put ourselves down and talk ourselves out of doing what we are capable of doing:
Repeating past experiences
People sometimes find that if they do something and get a certain result then there is nothing they can do to change that result should they find themselves in the same situation again. The outcome however can be changed by looking at the result with a different perception, you and only you can change the future. By thinking more positively and ignoring and avoiding negative thinking, the outcomes will become more positive.
Self talk plays a big part in our lives whether this be negative or positive, it helps us to make decisions, and it influences our lives a lot. Negative self talk can result in a negative outcome.
We sometimes spend too long looking at the past, mostly in a negative manner, but it doesn’t mean that you are back to square one. It means you have taken an option and gone a different route, however if you want to get back to the route you where on then you have to realise where you went wrong and think of positive ways you can get back there.
Practising positive thinking
If you have spent years thinking negatively at yourself, the world around you, your life etc, then these conditioning’s will make thinking and acting positively harder but not impossible, its about changing your habits and thinking more positively, unfortunately this wont happen overnight and may take some time. Its about changing your habits.
By paying more attention and persevering with your thoughts you can change your thinking. By visualising yourself as a confident, happy person you can begin to see yourself as this person. Now unfortunately you will have days where you feel down and cant be bothered, but see this day as a blip, one that can be forgotten about and you can try again tomorrow.
This week in the Living Skills group we started the Emotion Regulation module. This is a module that I really want to do as I struggle so much with my emotions and especially anger and getting stressed out, irritable and argumentative.
The skills that are taught in emotion regulation module are
– understanding our thoughts, interpretations and assumptions of situations
– Looking after yourself: reducing emotional vulnerability to negative emotions
– Being good to yourself
– Letting go of emotional suffering: “loving your dandelions”
– Acting Opposite
The goals of emotion regulation
– Understanding emotions that you experience
– Identify (observe and describe) emotion
– Understand what emotions do for you
– Reduce emotional vulnerability
– Decrease negative vulnerability ( vulnerability to emotional mind_
– Increase positive emotions
– Decrease emotional suffering
– Let go of painful emotions through mindfulness
– Change painful emotions through opposite action
In group today we had a picture of a stick figure called Charlie and had to decide which emotions we would give him and why. We found out that good and bad emotions are needed in life to function but when intense we can get stuck in them and they become uncomfortable causing distress.
We gave Charlie the following emotions
Anger – Pro – Fight or flight protection, stand up for yourself, release tension
– Against – Can just lose it
Happiness – Pro – positive emotion, lifts mood, connect with people, spurs you on, gives you energy
– Against – Can be impulsive, Not consider consequences
Sadness – Pro – Shows empathy, loss (this was important), appreciate the good, shows need for support
– Against – very heavy emotion, physically painful, exhausting
Guilt – Pro – Know right from wrong, to repair relationships
– Against – can hold on too long, have false guilt
Love – Pro – Makes you feel good/wanted, connection to others, motivator
– Against – Emptiness, loss
Shame – Pro – Learn from mistakes, adhere to social norms
– Against – Withdraw/back up
Anxiousness – Pro – Survival, safe from danger
– Against – Physical tension, paralysing
We then went on to do the hot cross bun (padesky, 1995) (how 5 factors combine to keep the problem going)
The following is an example that was used in group.
Factor 1 – Trigger/Situation (where, what, who, when?) – 1am a sudden crash downstairs
Factor 2 – Negative Automatic Thoughts (What was going through your mind in that moment) – Someone in the house, OMG what was that, Bomb/Gunshot
Factor 3 – Emotions – (what did you feel? EG sad, anxious, angry, afraid, guilt, ashamed, etc) Anxious, scared
Factor 4 – Physical Symptoms ( What was happening to your body? EG, loss of energy, tearful, racing heart, palpitations, perspiration etc) frozen, startled, physical tension, shaky, butterflies, churning stomach, heart racing
Factor 5 – Behaviour/Urge (What did you do/ want to do as a result? EG avoid, self harm, distract, use safety behaviours etc) Investigate, protect self, hide, ring the police.
Next in group we talked about about PLEASE MASTER – looking after yourself.
A way to remember these skills is to remember the term PLEASE MASTER
Treat PhysicaL illness
Avoid mood-Altering drugs
1 Treat PhysicaL illness – Take care of your body. See a doctor when necessary. Take prescribed medication. Holistic therapy, over the counter medication
2 Balance Eating – Dont eat too much or too little, dont comfort eat. Stay away from food that make you feel overly emotional. Eat sensibly, balance diet, regular meals. Stay hydrated. Get the right nutrients and vitamins
3 Avoid mood-Altering drugs – stay off non-prescribed drugs, including alcohol, caffeine. Dont under/over use prescribed medication. Minimise sugar intake. Reduce nicotine usage.
4 Balance Sleep – Try to get the amount of sleep that helps you feel good. Keep to sleep program if yo are having difficulty sleeping. Get 6-9 hours sleep. Get into a regular routine, have a bath before bed, cool down your bedroom and reduce phone/computer usage an hour before bed.
5 Get Exercise – Do some sort of exercise every day, try to build up to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. Natural feel good chemicals, releasing emotions and expand energy. Dont do 2 hours before bed.
6 Build MASTERy – Try to do thing a day to make your feel competent and in control. This gives sense of achievement, a sense of control. cooking, gardening, housework, making the bed/changing the sheets. Making self go out.
Its a horrible place to be in when you are feeling suicidal, you cant see anyway out or any future; life just doesn’t seem worth living. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you don’t have to go through with any thoughts or feelings that you are currently experiencing, remember these are just thoughts they are not facts and you do not have to act on them.
That being said, I know how it feels to be in this excruciating mental pain, and I know what it feels like to act on the thoughts and nearly complete suicide. What I wish I had back when I made the near fatal attempt is some wise words, some hope. Click Here READ ME FIRST!! this website isn’t for distraction but to ask you to read it first before making any decision. To take a step back for a moment. Had I known about this website back then, would I have made the attempt, I don’t know.
Hope that this post and linked website is able to help when you are feeling distressed, overwhelmed and feel you have no way out.
This is something i learnt when i first did DBT back in 2008. Its rather effective in how it works.
Sit back and relax your face from the top to your chin and jaw, let go of each facial muscle and feel everything becoming loose. Your forehead, eyes, brows, cheeks, mouth and tongue; teeth slightly apart. If you have difficulty, try tensing your facial muscles first and letting them go. A tense smile is a grin and might tell your brain you are hiding or masking your real feelings.
Let both corners of your lips go slightly up, just so you can feel them. It is not necessary for others to see it. A half smile is slightly upturned lips with a relaxed face.
Try to adopt a serene facial expression. Remember, your face communicates to your brain; your body connects to your mind.
So basically when you do a half smile the brain believes you to be in a calmer happier place and therefore you begin to feel calmer and happier.
Letting go of emotional suffering.
Feeling extreme emotions is typical for a person with BPD. A way of letting go of the emotional suffering is by using mindfulness.
Using the What Skill ‘Observe’ Observe the emotion and notice its presence, taking a step back and allow yourself to become unstuck from the emotion.
Using the What Skill ‘Describe’ Experience the emotion as a wave so coming and going, in and out. Try not to block or suppress the emotion, nor try to get rid or push it away. Don’t try to keep the emotion around or hold on to it and don’t amplify it. Label the emotion as it is.
Using the What Skill ‘Participate’ Remember you are not your emotion, you do not necessarily have to act on the emotion. Remember times with you have felt different.
Practice loving your emotion by not judging the emotion, practising willingness and radically accept the emotion is there.
Source: Linehan, M. Skills training manual for treating borderline personality disorder. 1st. New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 1994. Print.