3 STEPS FOR LETTING GO OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

Feeling depressed or anxious is never pleasant but this unpleasantness is what makes negative emotions useful. Our brains are hardwired to attend to that which may harm us. Similar to how hunger motivates us to seek food, negative emotions motivate us to seek safety and comfort (and to take better care of ourselves).

Bad days and bad moods are a normal and healthy part of the human experience. But prolonged negative thinking can result in negative thinking habits, which alter our neural structure over time. However, we can lessen the impact that negative thoughts, emotions, and experiences have on our brains.

Psychologist Steve Hayes suggests that we allow ourselves to feel bad in order to feel better. This may seem counterintuitive, especially to Western cultures where we try to control and rid ourselves of our anxiety, depression, and frustration. But Tibetan Buddhists believe that this attempted control is the problem and not the solution.

An increasingly popular new treatment called Acceptance Commitment Therapy is based on this assumption. ACT proposes that when we stop fighting our emotional pain and focus on the things that are important to us, we actually suffer less.

Accepting negative emotions can free up mental energy to focus on other more important things in our lives.
ACT’s founder, Steve Hayes, suggests that when we judge a thought or feeling, we give it more power. For example, the more time and energy that we spend trying to control our anxious thoughts, the more anxious we become.

Beating ourselves up about feeling down just adds more negative feelings to the collection we’re already coping with. So we become depressed about being depressed. We may not be able to shift our unwanted mood but we can change how we feel about the mood itself.

The less attention we give to our negative thoughts and feelings, the less impact they have on our neural structure.
We have thousands of thoughts and feelings a day. We can’t possibly attend to all of them. When negative thoughts arise, don’t ignore them, judge them, or try to stop them. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Here is how.

1. Let your negative thoughts and feelings flow. Neurologist Rick Hall suggests that we think of our thoughts as flowing through our mind like a river. If we attach to a thought, then we can ‘let it go and let it flow.’ Here is an example.

Attaching negative thoughts and feelings:

Thought: I feel like such a failure.

Reaction: I am doing it again. I am beating myself up. Every time I try to be positive, I fail. See, I am a failure. Stop it. Stop it. But I can’t even do this right. Ugh.

Accepting negative thoughts and feelings and letting go:

Thought: I feel like such a failure.

Reaction. Hmmm. There is that thought again. What should I have for dinner?

2. Meditate ten minutes a day to get better at it. Apps such as Headspace offer short (some are only 1-2 minutes) exercises that you can do anywhere. The Acceptance exercise teaches how to accept our own thoughts and feelings as well as other people’s difficulties. There are also short exercises on patience, pain management, and happiness.

3. Practice self-compassion. I say ‘practice’ because self-compassion is a skill. We will inevitably get stuck on negative thoughts and feelings and it easy to get disheartened. With Kristen Neff’s collection of self-compassion meditations, you can learn to compassionately let thoughts and feelings flow. The less palatable it sounds to you, the more you may need it.

Accepting our negative thoughts and feelings does not mean that we should not take steps to better our lives. “Letting our thoughts flow” is useful when we have done what we can to remedy our negative mood but it still persists. We don’t have to be carried away by our thoughts and emotions. And letting go frees up the mental space so we can focus more on the positive experiences in our lives.

Warm regards,

Jena

HOW TO CATCH DEPRESSION BEFORE IT CATCHES YOU

When we think of depression, we may imagine being permanently pyjama-clad, lying in bed or on the sofa in a dark room, unable to move. Clinical depression (or major depressive disorder) can look this way and the Internet and media often paint this picture.

If we research depression symptoms online, it usually brings up Clinical depression information, leaving some of us thinking that, it feels bad but it’s not as bad as all that.

But some depressive symptoms are less recognizable. Most of us are busy. We might feel down but we can’t afford to stop. Even when a situation (like a breakup) triggers deep sadness in us, we have to keep going. So the symptoms are subtler, more gradual, and easier to disregard. They sneak up on us and if unaddressed they can become debilitating.

Recognise any of these?

– A sense of heaviness you can’t shake
– Impatience, irritability, quickly losing your temper over little things
– Growing intolerance of others, our surroundings, or ourselves
– Heightened awareness of negative things
– An emboldened inner critic, bullying ourselves or self-loathing
– Incessant worrying (going over the same thing again and again) or catastrophizing (using words like always and never)
– Wanting to hide from the world and avoiding things that make us feel better (friends, exercise, nature)

Our brain activity is habit forming; the more we think and feel certain ways, the more likely we will think and feel that way in the future. A persistent low mood can spiral into depression and the lower we spiral, the harder it is to pick ourselves back up.

We all have low moods but when feelings of depression seem unshakeable, it is time to start paying attention to them. One of the best ways to deal with depression is to catch it early.

Here is how:

– Become mindful of how you talk to yourself. Would you lose friends if you talked to them the way you talk to yourself? Your inner critic may have pushed you to do better but it can push you down that depression spiral too.
Get blood tests from your doctor. Low mood can be a side-effect of any number of physical ailments: nutritional deficiencies, bacterial imbalances in your gut, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, fibromyalgia, hormonal imbalance, food allergies, infections, and medications.

– Create exercise accountability. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve our mood. We may have the best intentions to exercise regularly, but low mood can sap our motivation. When depressed, we are far more likely to put it off.

So instead of beating yourself up for not exercising, put measures into place that hold you accountable. For example, book a boutique exercise class, schedule workouts with a friend, or join a beginner’s club team (your Fris team depends on you). If you have no problem skipping those type activities, then hire a trainer for 30 minutes twice a week. (Hire a really cute one for added motivation!) Tell her/him to follow up with you if you miss a session.

– Forgive yourself for feeling this way and for setbacks that may have triggered these feelings. Low mood often increases our critical self-talk. We feel down so we beat ourselves up, which makes us feel even lower. Interrupt the self-critical spiral with self-compassion. If this sounds too difficult, read or listen to The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook by Tim Desmond.

– Listen to what thoughts are driving your emotions. There is no such thing as a ‘negative’ emotion. Even depression serves to protect us. Our low mood is a red flag. Sometimes it is telling us to slow down, to reconnect with loved ones, or to disconnect from unhealthy situations. Or to get help.

– The app Thought Record app from Moodnotes helps you uncover the situations and thinking patterns that may trigger your low mood. And to find alternative, more helpful perspectives.

Everyone feels low, drained, or worn-out occasionally. Many of the symptoms of major depressive disorder – irritability, lethargy, and hopelessness – can be normal reactions to stressful life events.

‘Sometimes, depression is a perfectly reasonable response to trouble in your life.’ Karla McLaren

However, if your low mood is cyclical or doesn’t respond to the healing changes you make, talk to your doctor or a professional therapist.

If you think you might be clinically depressed, you can take this test.  Depression Self Assessment

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition.
Tim Desmond. (2017). The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook. A 14-Day Plan to Transform Your Relationship with Yourself
Rick Hanson. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness. The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence.
Karla McLaren. (2010). The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You.
Robert Plutchik. (1980). Theories of Emotion (Volume 1).
Dan Siegel. (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation.
Bessel van der Kolk. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Warm regards,

Jena

Pineapple Support is Looking for Volunteers To Join Their Team of Listeners

Becoming a Volunteer Listener for Pineapple Support

Volunteer listeners have full control over when and how long they are available to listen. They provide a safe, anonymous, caring, non-judgemental and completely stigma free space for adult industry performers to reach out.

 

What it means to become a listener.

Pineapple Support provides free emotional support 24/7 to people within the adult entertainment industry. We want to support others so they never have to feel alone. Having someone there to listen can make all the difference in someone’s life. Active listening is a great way to support someone. It’s not solving problems, it’s helping someone feel heard, valued, and understood.

Pineapple Support have joined up with 7 Cups of Tea, one of the biggest and best emotional support platforms. When you join Pineapple Support, you not only get to feel good about doing something awesome.

– You become part of the community that genuinely cares and helps others. As a listener, you have access to peers, other listeners, and mentors.

– You develop excellent active listening skills, which will strengthen your relationships, improve your confidence, and equip you to deal with conflicts.

– You get free hands-on training that is designed to help you learn by doing. As 7 Cups says, training is directly relevant and immediately applicable to your life.

Here is how it works: we provide free online training & support – all you need is an internet connection to get started.

  • Free active listening course
  • Online volunteering from home (or via app!)
  • Control your own availability to listen
  • Get certifications to boost your resume
  • Get support & coaching from friendly mentors
  • Feel amazing that you are making a difference in other peoples lives!

 

Click here and join our team of listeners today.

What It Means To Become A Listener

Pineapple Support provides free emotional support 24/7 to people within the adult entertainment industry. We want to support others so they never have to feel alone. Having someone there to listen can make all the difference in someone’s life. Active listening is a great way to support someone. It’s not solving problems, it’s helping someone feel heard, valued, and understood.

Pineapple Support have joined up with 7 Cups of Tea, one of the biggest and best emotional support platforms. When you join Pineapple Support, you not only get to feel good about doing something awesome.

– You become part of the community that genuinely cares and helps others. As a listener, you have access to peers, other listeners, and mentors.

– You develop excellent active listening skills, which will strengthen your relationships, improve your confidence, and equip you to deal with conflicts.

– You get free hands-on training that is designed to help you learn by doing. As 7 Cups says, training is directly relevant and immediately applicable to your life.

Here is how it works: 7 Cups provide free online training & support – all you need is an internet connection to get started.

• Free active listening course

• Online volunteering from home (or via app!)

• Control your own availability to listen

• Get certifications to boost your resume

• Get support & coaching from friendly mentors

• Feel amazing that you are making a difference in other peoples lives!

 

To become a listener follow this link and click on the orange tab at the top of the page “Volunteer as a Listener”

 

Dr Jena Field

Why You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself

We might think we feel ashamed when we don’t do the things we set out to do. For instance, when we overindulge, skip the gym, or put our foot in our mouths. But what we are feeling in these instances is not shame, it’s guilt. We often use these terms synonymously but they are actually very different.

Guilt is ‘I did something bad’; Shame is ‘I am bad’.

Guilt alerts us when we do wrong whereas shame is when we feel inherently wrong. This may sound counterintuitive but sometimes feeling ashamed is the best thing for us. (Stay with me here). I am not saying that we should feeling bad about who we are. I am saying that often we already feel shame and we don’t realize it.

The most common cause of anxiety and depression is what psychologists call negative schemas – or long-held beliefs about ourselves – such as ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am not smart enough,’ or ‘I am unlovable’.

We develop these negative self-beliefs when we are children. Often we have no idea that we have them but they influence every decision that we make. When we cling too tightly or reject a romantic hopeful, a negative schema is often to blame. It makes sense when we think about it: if deep down you believe that you are unworthy of love, wouldn’t you be overly anxious about losing someone you care about?

The tricky thing is that shame hides, even from ourselves. Most the time we don’t realize we feel it because it is buried under other emotions. It’s often the culprit behind defensiveness, perfectionism, and people-pleasing.

You’ve got to feel it to heal it.

The only way to stop the negative influence that our schemas and the subsequent shame have on our lives is to identify them. When we uncover negative self-beliefs, we can finally challenge these beliefs and change them.

Some positive news about negative schemas: they are never true.

1) Schemas are based on a child’s logic. Like most child logic, there is a hint of truth mixed with a whole lot of supposition. When we are children, our brains construct schemas to make sense of our surroundings and to help us survive in the world. For instance, a schema like, ‘I am not good enough’ stops us from trying new things and consequently protects us from the pain of failure.

2) Children blame themselves for much of what goes on around them. Children tend to attribute trauma – parents divorce, Grandma’s stroke, or the departure of anyone important – to their own shortcomings. Which is one reason why, ‘I am unlovable’ and ‘I am not good enough’ are the most common schemas.

3) Schemas are overly simplistic. Another very common schema, ‘I am not smart enough,’ is a great example. We may get terrible grades at school but academic tests are only one of many ways to measure intelligence. There are (at least) nine other types of intelligence including interpersonal, physical, creative, and emotional.

Uncovering your negative self-beliefs is just the first step.

Negative schemas are stubborn. They’ve been in our brains for a long time and won’t disappear the moment we uncover them. We’ve got to work at it. I’ve written a number of posts explaining how shame and our inner critical voices harm us. And what steps we can take to change them. Check it out at http://themonkeytherapist.com/category/guilt-shame/