Category Archives: Negativity

101: How to eliminate wild weeds (Negative Thinking)

Eliminating weeds from our gardens or from the Spring beauties who show their marvelous colors every year, makes it our major task to dig the weeds out, cutting down these thriving seeds of destruction. They become a pest when allowed to grow and take over what was hoped to be something beautiful and bountiful. Negative thinking is likewise that noxious weed- It yields no good fruit!
Our strategy, is to knock them out before they can get a root- hold, destroying our hard work and handiwork. Seeing the first sign of the noxious weed (negative thinking) tells us that more are on the way.

This I believe, serves as a metaphor for when a mind has been taken over with negative thinking and accompanied by a sense of hopelessness.
Our mind, if filled with uninvited negative thinking, cycling us down with a feeling of loss and hopelessness, we find it’s time to get into action, take a crack at that first negative thought–before it even gets a chance to sabotage our thinking, our feelings and motivation to change.
When the negative thoughts begins–say STOP–don’t go any further with a debate about that first thought. We refuse to get entangled with this tangent thought, always leading us to places where we don’t want to go. We have been at this point of thinking far too many times. We know now how to dismantle this crippling form of negative thinking. Change the script. You do the managing of what you think about.
First, cut the thought down to size–don’t let it scare you, but tell it “I’m not going to believe this anymore.” Another reccuring negative thought, for example might be, “You are worthless.” When this thought appears, we can replace it with a positive “sunspot.” This “sunspot” can be a positve recent mental image of a past event or a positive affirmation of ouselves. And with your own weed control operation, tell yourself as many good things about yourself as you want. What you can accomlish at this point is to see the weed (thought) for what it is. Cut it down, like a bad weed, and dig it out. Have an affirmation ready at hand, to replace each and every negative thought. Positivty thinking is what you are all about!

AFFIRMATION
“Making direct amends and using a personal inventory continues our progress and helps free us from all the hurts of the past. We know now that we can’t afford to think long about real of imagined hurts, or we will throw ourselves back into saddening ourselves once again.”

REFLECTION
One of the things that is toxic for the depressed peron is negative thinking. This thinking continues to grow, once nurtured by my attention into a large and uncontrolled wild weed, taking all the attention from the good things happening in my life. I know that I can no longer give into that first thought allowing to pound me to the ground. My negative thinking is very much akin to drinking for the alcoholic. Once I give into that first moment of self-bashing, the cycle of depression begins. There can be no second negative thought!
Hurts from my past continue to grow stronger the more I allow them to dominate my thinking and my behavior. Hurts are best eradicated (Seep 4 and Step 5) when I deal with them openly and honestly.

MEDITATION
The spirit hopes in God as we begin today with a prayer and a belief that this day can be a good one, like the days that I have had in the past.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. Depressed anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky. Pages 153-154. (September 17)

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous. Third Edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

Energy of activation – Walking through the struggle

I study chemistry, and I see a correlation between a chemistry concept and walking through a struggle in depression.   In a chemical reaction, there is something called the “energy of activation.”  It is the energy that is necessary for a reaction to proceed.  In the diagram below, is the large hump or hill between the initial state and the final state.  So if I relate that to depression, it is the struggle that I go through to perform a particular task.  Now, I’ve realized it’s not about the task.  For example, it does not matter if the task I’m trying to achieve is getting out of bed, going to a meeting, going to work, going to the gym, or achieving a lofty goal.  It’s about the energy of activation, or the difficulty of the struggle that matters. When I am in severe depression, the energy of activation required for me to get out of bed is immense.  It may feel impossible at times!  Now that I am not in a depression, that task is not a struggle for me.  It has a low activation energy.  In other words, it’s easy for me at this time.

So why does this matter?  Because I used to (and still can) compare myself to others and ask myself the question “how does that person do this or that so easily?  How come it’s so hard for me to get out of bed but so easy for someone else?”  This concept of activation energy helps me realize that everyone has struggles.  And if I focus on how to get through the struggle, then I am focusing on the solution.  I also realize that at different points in my life, the activation energy for the same task can be VERY different.  This also tells me that I can and should give myself credit for getting through the struggle, no matter what the task is!!  Because what matters is getting over that hump.

So how do we do that?  It boils down to our thinking, doesn’t it?  If I feed myself positive thoughts, such as “this is possible,” “I can do it,” “I’ve had successes is the past, so I can do it again,” “I am capable and I am worth it,” then I’m going to get into action and take baby steps up the hill.  But if I think negative thoughts (or choose to stay with those negative thoughts, since in my case my default thinking is negative) then I am going to walk myself right down that hill and stay stuck at the bottom.  Sometimes I need to think positive thoughts that will get me to call someone else and ask for help or motivation.  It’s okay to get help – it’s easier to climb that hill together!

I’m realizing that when I focus on giving myself credit for overcoming that struggle, then I’m helping myself.  If I tell myself, “oh, it’s no big deal.  All I did was get out of bed today.  That doesn’t really count as a success,”  then not only am I saddening myself, but I’m also being dishonest with myself!!   Because overcoming the energy of activation for that task was critical and a major achievement!!  And best of all, at the end of the task, I’m in a better place than where I started.  So just for today, I am going to give myself credit for walking though the struggle – no matter how big or small the task.

Resentment is the number one offender

What’s your problem? One problem that many of us have is that we are riddled with resentment. How do I come to that conclusion? It’s found in the AA Big Book (remember that Depressed Anonymous is based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous).

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics (or depressed people) than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”
Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 64-65

Okay, so we’ve identified the number one offender. We must set ourselves free from resentment. What do we do to rid ourselves of resentment? That too is found in the AA Big Book:

If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.

It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it too always comes. And because it works for me, it will work for all of us. As another great man says, “The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.”
Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, page 552

I can personally attest to the fact that praying for the people you resent truly works. I harbored a deep resentment for over 15 years. My parents chose not to come to my daughter’s funeral. The resentment was all consuming. My sponsor in AA told me “Bill you need to pray for your parents”.

The first thought that came to mind was: “No way in hell am I praying for my parents”. Then the small still voice of my Higher Power asked me a question: “Well Bill, what are you willing to do?”.

I realized that I was willing to pray for willingness. I prayed for two weeks, and the willingness came. I prayed for two weeks for my parents: that they know peace, that they feel the presence of God in their life, that they have wisdom.

I prayed and the resentment was gone. The scar was still there because they hurt me. It however was no longer an open and festering wound. No longer was there bile in the back of my throat because of deep anger. I was free!

Prayer truly works if you pray for those you resent, and not pray at them.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Roadblocks and pitfalls in recovery

I think sometimes people have the idea that recovery is a straight line angled upward with a positive slope.  For me, that is not the case.   My recovery is a conglomeration of sine waves, bumps, upward swoops, pot holes, and squiggly lines.  Overall, it does have a positive upward slope.  In other words, as the promises state, I have more good days than bad. Today, I have many more good days than bad.

But what to do on those bad days?  That is the question.  How do I navigate recovery when I am in a downward slope, have a roadblock or a pitfall?  How do I get through this period of mild depression?

First of all, I remind myself that This too shall pass.  It may sound cliché, but it is true!  If I am having a difficult day, I do not have to let it become a bad couple of days or a bad week.  I do not have to let it go to a moderate or severe depression.  Sometimes I can even limit it to bad moments.  The point is, this depressing feeling will not last forever.  I do have a choice to realize that it is temporary, to do something about it and not let it take over.

So what do I do about it?

The program gives me tools.  It’s up to me to use them.  Sometimes I have to pray for the willingness to use them.  The willingness to help myself undepress myself and stop being a victim.  When I’m in a pitfall, I feel alone and isolated. That is my disease talking to me.  The reality is that I’m in a program with people who understand me and care about me.  I can reach out to them and be honest about how I’m feeling.  This simple but sometimes difficult action really does help me a lot.  By telling on my feelings, I feel less isolated and more connected to others.   Another thing I do is journal to my Higher Power.  I tell my Higher Power what I’m thinking and feeling.  Sometimes I follow it up with journaling from my Higher Power to me.  This is the voice of truth.  This helps me to contradict those negative thoughts and see the truth as my Higher Power sees it.   When I’m in a slump, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be in a slump and to be kind and loving with myself through this period.  I’ve learned that my recovery is not a straight line upwards, and that it’s okay for me to have some squiggly parts and bumps in that recovery journey.  I can learn to give myself that same love and compassion that I would give another struggling person.  Another tool I like to use is the “way to go self” list.  When I’m in a slump, I focus on the negative, specifically those “I’m not good enough” statements.  I neglect seeing my positives.  So I make a list of my assets or those things that I am doing well, or those things that I am accomplishing.  And I’ll give myself double stars for doing something positive when I don’t feel like doing it – because that is extra difficult for me!  So by making a point to look at the positive things I am doing, it helps me gain clarity and see the positives.

To sum up, bumps in the road of recovery are part of the process for me today.  It doesn’t mean I’m bad or need to shame myself.  It means that life happens, and now I have an opportunity to use the tools this program gives me – IF I choose to do so.

Stacy S

Depressed? Looking for a stable and secure environment?

Depressed and feeling alone? This is what many of us have felt when a combination of the many symptoms of depression shackled us physically and put our mind in park.

Some of us felt that there must be a way out of the pain of depression, but as yet were unable to find what might help us. But this feeling changed once I came into the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step program of recovery. When I was asked if I would like to share with others my own path of recovery I heartily agreed. Here is my story.

I am sharing my story here to give others a chance to read what happens when we land in this circle of friendship with its healing acceptance and support.
After ten years of repeated meetings with the depressed of Depressed Anonymous meetings, it’s clear that that the meetings create a secure base for those who in their childhood had neither kindness nor the life giving warmth and affection of a loving family.
People who keep coming back to Depressed Anonymous continue to grow and become aware of the inner change taking place, week after week, as they find not only attention to their story, but find that they are loved and and cared for at the same time. Possibly for the first time they find that they look forward to each weekly meeting and become attached to the positive feelings that emerge inside themselves as they continue to share the story of their pain. In time they share how their week is suddenly being filled with more good days than bad. It also becomes obvious to the participant that childhood behavior and experiences are carried right on into adult life. Trusting is such a hazard for the depressed, because every person is different. You can’t trust your environment because it could suddenly shift and you would be without a certainty that you were bad and worthless. The meetings gradually present to you an opportunity to be someone worthwhile and valued. Your sharing and risking information about yourself begins the construction of a new and secure you. The DA group becomes for the first time in your life a very secure and stable environment where you can share, trust and grow.
–Anonymous

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 162-163. (Personal stories: #25. Depressed Anonymous provides a secure (love and acceptance) base for those who never experienced love nor support growing up.


To read more stories of inspiration (Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com. Literature can be ordered online. Ebooks are also available.

Thinking causes feelings, feelings cause moods and moods cause behavior

This sounds right for me. When my thinking is negative and my mind cycles around and around, these negative thoughts can create sad feelings which are negative. If I feel sad enough and for prolonged periods of time my sad feelings will create moods which can last for a short time or deepen into moods which gradually darken our thinking to the extent that hopelessness begins to rule our emotions-our lives. Once our moods deepen, we begin to find ourselves prisoners, not of any iron bars and locked cells, but the change in our thinking, now negative and hopeless , not only will change our behaviors so that any physical, mental or spiritual activities will come to a halt All those activities that were once such a large part of our lives, providing pleasure for us, gradually have all disappeared. From this time on, our thinking, our feelings, frozen with fear and anxiety are stuck in a place which is unable to provide any possible solutions providing a predictable escape.

Magic wands and silver bullets are not available here

AFFIRMATION

“…seeing and talking to other people are amongst the most helpful experiences for depressed people generally.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

What a novel thought: a  depressed person talking  to another depressed person.    When I tell people I am going to a Depressed Anonymous meeting their first response is   “Isn’t that depressing?” “Actually,”  I respond, “it isn’t.”  I know from my    experiences in other 12 Step groups how sharing with persons who have the same problems as  my own,   is always helpful and therapeutic.

“It takes one to know one”  as the saying goes. The reason that meetings with the depressed are not depressing is that all of us speak the same language. All of us come with a  HOPE that they  can find a way out of the  isolation and pain. The depressed person  is discovering  meetings which are hopeful and solution focused. No “poor me” attitudes here.  No ” pity party”   going on here.

I find the meetings upbeat and focus on the solution. The solutions are found in the 12 Steps;  spiritual principles presenting a Step by Step plan  for recovery and freedom from sadness and isolation. At the core of these meetings is a belief in a power greater than ourselves, who is restoring us to sanity. This power, for some, is the group meeting and while for others it is a being  called  God, the God of our understanding.

How Depressed Anonymous Works.

At each Depressed Anonymous meeting the following message  is read to the group  by a volunteer:

“You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are on a journey of hope and who mutually care for each other.  You will hear how hope, light and energy have been regained by those who were hopeless and in a black hole and tired of living.

By our involvement in the group, we are feeling that there is hope – there is a chance for me too. I can get better. But we are not the people with the magic pills and the easy formulas for success. We believe that to get out of the prison  of depression takes time and work.

We all  have been wounded in different degrees by the experience of depression. We also know that there is a method to regain control over our lives that is practical and workable.  It is successful for all those who want to change their lives. Some of us believed that there was no hope and that suicide was the only way out.

In this natural world, one of the first laws is that all growth is gradual – that belief is the bottom line for all of us who are depressed and who want to get better. The more we attend meetings, the more we will learn and see the various ways to escape from depression. We also learn  how important it is not to give up on ourselves.”


RESOURCES

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 156-157.

(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

(c) Believing is seeing:15 ways to  leave the prison of depression.  Hugh Smith (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. .

Please VISIT THE STORE @THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS BOOKSTORE   if you would like to order online any of the books  listed here.

Negative thinking can keep me depressed

 

When I am depressed. I do not think clearly. I feel like I’m worthless and that no one really likes me. I feel like there is nothing that I can do.

I keep telling myself these negative thoughts:

I’m helpless.

I have no control.

I can’t get going and I have no motivation energy.

Things are always bad and they won’t get better.

This kind of negative or distorted thinking includes more than self-criticism. It is a negative view of the world and the future as well as a negative view of the self. This way of thinking is a well established habit. The more self-critical and helpless I feel the more miserable I am. The more miserable I am, the more depressed I feel. How can I stop this cycle? If I could keep the negative thought from crowding my mind I might be able to remember  my  good qualities. For example, I know that  I am helpful, generous, flexible, and have a warm smile. I am truthful, caring,  considerate of others,  responsible. and thoughtful .

We want to foucs today on the connection bretween what I think and the way it makes me feel. The task will be to practice changing what I think in order to feel better. (See the Depressed Anonymous Publication : I’ll do it when I feel better (2016). Louisville. KY.

What I think determines what I feel. Thoughts produce feelings, feelings cause moods and moods cause  behaviors.

It is sometimes hard to recognize the connection between what I think and how I feel. So, it may   help to think about simple examples.

EXAMPLE:

If I showed a spider to five people, one might scream, one might back away, one might  poke it to get it to spin a web, one might put it by the fish pond so its web would catch mosquitoes, one might get a magnifying glass to look at the exquisite markings on its back. All of the responses, though different,   resulted from what the person Thought  about spiders.

The one who screamed THOUGHT spider bites were fatal.

The one who backed away  THOUGHT “Be careful!”.  He was mistrustful of what kind it was.

The one who poked it was curious. His THOUGHT was “what will it do!?”

The person who put it by the pond THOUGHT it was a useful insect.

The person who got the magnifying glass THOUGHT it was beautiful.

In each of these cases, the person could probably say th e spider caused  the response when, in fact, what they THOUGHT about spiders determined how they responded and how they felt.

Similarly, what I think about myself, and how I believe I should behave,  determines what I do and how I feel.

One of the goals of this session today and tomorrow  is to stop the negative, self-defacing thoughts and beliefs that may result in symptoms of depression and replace them with useful, positive, constructive thinking.

One of the  first steps is to become aware of all the different kinds of self-critical thoughts that cause trouble. Following are some examples of situations and reactions.

EXAMPLES:

Situation: I didn’t get Sue’s invitation to the party

Negative thoughts: No one likes me.

Feelings and reactions: Rejection and depression. I won’t talk to her tomorrow.

EXERCISE # 1

In the following situations, look at the possible negative thoughts that might explain the person’s feelings and actions.

A man’s neighbor came over to ask if he could borrow a shovel. The man took him to the garage to get the shovel. The garage was cluttered with junk and tools. After some digging around he finally found the shovel to loan to his friend. His negative thought might be:                            (circle one of the below).

  1. How embarrassing to have my neighbor see this messy garage.
  2. I should keep this place clean all the time.
  3. It’s terrible to be  so unorganized                                                                                                                    The man had “rules” that he thought he should follow. It wasn’t right to not always live up to his own values.  Therefore, he was embarrassed by the clu tter in his garage. He was sure the neighbor would think less of him. When in fact the neighbor was thinking “Gee, this guy must be OK, his garage looks just  like mine.”

Tomorrow we will continue our discussion on our important topic of how I think determines how I feel and respond to life situations and environments.

SOURCES:  I’ll do it when I feel better(2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

Quotations from A  University of Oregon  Doctoral Dissertation:A Depression Workbook.

I kissed a chunk of my life away…

My Mother had died in 1983 and I fell into a severe depression. I felt overwhelmed and suicidal.

I never actually attempted suicide because the alcohol came into my life. It dulled my senses and made me oblivious. Alcohol also at the same time gave me this feeling of empowerment and happiness, but at the same time. – resentment because I knew what was  bothering  me  and didn’t quite  want  to  address the  issue.

It wasn’t until 1993 that I joined Alcoholics Anonymous and got into therapy, which has been amazingly helpful. I’m growing and dealing with the death of my mother and with alcohol. My hobbies, like gardening and my writing give me great  joy and are therapeutic. I’ve been working  The  Twelve  Steps with  an open mind  that every  day things will  get   better. If problem does occur, the Higher Power will give me the answer and the strength to deal with it and not to run away or shut it away like before.

Depression is something that’s so overwhelming. For me, it’s like crawling from beneath the earth and facing the light with fear that no ne would understand how I truly feel. When in depression, isolation would follow as my only friend, but actually,  it was  my own worst  enemy. I  should have been opening up to someone. Instead, I shut myself  off from the world.

Through therapy, a belief in myself, and encouragement, facing each day doesn’t seem difficult.

Working my Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous and reading Higher Thoughts for Down Days gives me reassurance that we are not alone. I now appreciate what I do have when I work through the program.

Through prayer and appreciation, I realize that there’s more to life than alcohol and that I kissed a chunk of my life away because of it.

Now I’m gaining much more through life than ever before. Being sober, I see my life as a gift and not as a heavy burden.” Rheatha

Click on to Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for more literature dealing with depression and the Twelve Step Program of Recovery.

Depressed Anonymous,3rd ed., Depressed Anonymous Publications. (Personal Stories). Pages 110-152.

Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step Fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications