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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Should I be Constantly Fighting Negative Thoughts?

Dear A. B.
Thank you for your sweet and warm encouragement, it put a big smile on my face :). Yes, I'm determined to go on the path of self-responsibility, and you are my inspiration !

I just got back from an evening session of yoga - an activity I use to enjoy a lot -- however I found that I was having negative thoughts all the time. The more I relaxed, the more it came that was anxiety building. Of course, I practiced brainswitching, or trying to focus on the breath or anything else, also telling myself " it's just a chemical thing, it's not reality" or " it's not an option to think downer thoughts !!! I refuse !! ".

This would work for a split second and I feel the relief, but right away boom! another negative thought would arise. Beneath the relaxation composure, I was in a constant fight, or shall I say chase -- to combat the negative thoughts that seemed to just auto-generate. I feel exhausted with a headache now from the "fight" but at least I don't feel as depressed as if I was not putting up a fight and letting the negative thoughts take me down further. Is "fighting" like this the right attitude, that I must do for every single negative thought?

How long does it take to get to a less painful place, where the thoughts don't have power over me? I know you say it's more qualitative than quantitative, but I remember reading somewhere that it took you 2-3 yrs.

Did you have to battle / fight constantly at the beginning?

Kindest regards and thank you deeply for this support, Y_______

Dear Y_________

Well, actually no. That's not exactly right. We shouldn't be fighting thoughts. Fighting thoughts just keeps them alive. Thoughts are very quick, they are over almost as soon as they pop up, unless you choose to think them again and again. You don’t really kill thoughts, you just don’t think them.

What you are doing is not fighting thoughts but choosing not to think them when they pop up. The best way to choose not to think any particular thought is to choose to think some OTHER thought instead of the thought that popped up. Thus substituting “green frog” or hippoty-hop” for the thought "I feel depressed." Remember that depression is first and foremost a thought.

As for how long it will take. It took 2 to 3 years until I was able to perfect the process for myself. But I was creating it as I went along. You have the whole process before you, laid out in the book. It should not take you as long. Some people say that, once they got the idea of blocking the acknowledgment in the neocortex with some nonsense word, they never suffered any more pain from depression. They used the word, got out of the pain, and then went on with the regular chores or work of the day.

One man wrote me that "green frog" totally changed his life. Another that "hippity-hop" was all he needed and his life was totally changed as well. But both these people already had good lives they had built and the depression was a side step out of their lives. Knowledge of how their brain worked allowed them to side step back out of depression and into their regular lives.

For you, it may be that you have more life-building to do so that once out of depression you have something viable to jump into. If you don't have much going on, where do you go when you get out of depression? You have to re-engage with life, but you have to have an ongoing life to re-engage with.

You certainly seem to have fragments of a life, family, work, etc. But there is not yet a serious investment on your part in these fragments to build into a more coherent whole life. But the mind exercise should always be able to get you out of the extreme agony of depression, even though you are not all that "happy." Remember though, that you can always be cheerful even if your heart may be a little heavy. And cheerfulness can become happiness in due time. It's that old psychological cliche--fake it until you make it. A. B. Curtiss

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