Part One: Sunspots And The Law Of The Threes
Jim, (a member of Depressed Anonymous) for instance learned that he needed more “SUNSPOTS” to bask himself in. These “SUNSPOTS” meditation times where we can focus on all those pleasurable events, people, places or things that can make us feel happy. The trouble with most of us when we are depressed is that our whole life seems to go in to a deep pit with an eighty foot hole and an eight foot ladder.
One good way to escape from this prison is to get with a group of people who by joining each other’s section of a ladder, will all together eventually get to the top and out of this deep dark pit that we call depression. Think upon these small SUNSPOTS throughout the day and know that you are gradually coming into the light of a new day. Prepare a lot of meanings which at one time in your life were the cause of some joy and pleasure and try to recreate that activity in your imagination as often as you can. At first all you may be able to do is just make a mental decision to do it even if at the time you don’t feel any particular pleasant emotion. Keep at it and with the continued encouragement of the group, you will be able to recapture a little joy and peace. You will begin to have more mastery over your life and the world and this in itself can lower your negative feelings of sadness. When you have a negative image or thought which produces an unpleasant feeling, replace it immediately with three positive and pleasant thoughts or mental images. In Depressed Anonymous, we call this THE LAW OF THE THREES. One negative thought is immediately replaced by three pleasant thoughts and/or memories.
Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, Copyright © 2014, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 47-48.
Part Two: Being Aware Of Negative Thinking
Becoming aware of my negative thinking and learning the skills to cut negativity thinking out of my life.
With all the negative thought uppermost in my mind I always have one to apply to any situation. These are examples:
- Situation: My friend called and just talked a few minutes on the phone and then hung up.
- Thoughts: I blundered again. I must have said something that offended him.
- Emotion: Hurt and depression
- Situation: A child turned away from me in the store and ran to his mother.
- Thought: I’m really ugly. It’s awful to scare children.
- Emotion: Depression and despair
- Situation: My new blender wouldn’t turn on today.
- Thoughts: I’m really dumb. I can’t do anything right. I should be able to figure this out.
- Emotion: Sadness and helplessness.
The following are some of my own situations or events in which I used negative. self critical thoughts and beliefs which resulted in depression and bad feelings.
- Situation – What happened?
- Thoughts – What I believe or think about myself?
- Emotion – How did I feel?
Depressive thoughts are sometimes called warped thinking, irrational thinking, automatic thoughts, crooked thoughts, or negative thinking. These thoughts are not “crazy” thoughts like “I’m God” or “My neighbors car is a disguised spaceship”. But rather small negative thoughts about myself that seem possible to me when I am depressed. They are just as untrue as “crazy” thoughts but they can add up to a lot of pain and unhappiness
Small negative thoughts like these are the culprits:
- I deserve to be sad
- I should do things better
- It isn’t fair
- I’m a failure as a parent
- What if my Mother comes and sees this home?
- It’s always my fault
- I’m just a jerk
- This will be a disaster
Now, I’m thinking that I have thought like that, but I can’t do anything about what I think. The thoughts just come into my head and I can’t do anything about it.
Any thought that contains “I can’t” is one to look at more closely because it leads right back into the depression cycle.
If I look at thoughts as things I do, then I can change them. I can change other things I do. Negative or irrational thoughts are like any bad habit that can be changed by:
- Becoming aware of the bad habit
- Learning to do something else
In the case of negative thoughts, I have to:
- Pinpoint the negative and self-critical ways I think about myself.
- Find other ways to think about myself.
A good way to remind myself that there are other ways of seeing myself is to imagine the court scene. I am both the prosecutor (accuser) and the defender. Each time I accuse myself of something bad, I will also think of a positive way to look at it. This will be my self-defense against my self-criticism.
- Accuser – I should do a better job.
- Defender – This is good enough for now. It isn’t that important.
This new kind of self talk (self defense) will seem “right” if it is practiced often.
How to self-defend – three steps.
- – Stop Yourself When You Are Feeling Depressed / Sad / Bad
In our examples we talked about how: Situation leads to thought leads to emotion. Many people may recognize the emotion “I feel depressed” but may not understand why.
- – Quiz yourself
Why do I feel bad?
A. I criticize myself and give myself negative messages.
- You jerk, why did you do this?
- You’re so clumsy. Why don’t you stand up straight?
- There you go eating sugar again – you are going to be a blimp.
B. Am I making impossible demands of myself?
- I should not make any mistakes.
- I have to do well on this test.
- I must always keep things neat and clean.
C. Am I thinking in terms of “all or nothing”? For example:
- I am a total failure.
- I ‘ll never be happy.
- I always have to do the dirty work.
D. Do I place too much importance on what happened. For example:
- I can’t stand to be rejected.
- It would be absolutely awful if my Mother saw me now.
- What if I break my leg while skiing? That would be the end of everything for me.
E. Am I placing blame on someone else for my problems as an excuse for not taking responsibility for myself? For example:
- That child is driving me crazy. I can’t do anything about it.
- We never go anywhere. Why don’t you take me somewhere?
- That store has the worst rip off prices in town. I always get cheated.