I have this friend, well she’s a “frenemy ” really. He name is Debbie Downer and she has a habit of jumping into my thoughts and scattering my good feelings like cards into the ether. I can be ok at 10 am, looking forward to the day, motivated and excited about finding a new job. By 5pm I am ready to sob into my soup. What happened to my brain between 10am and 5pm ? Well, my day started out well, then I got a call to say , I didn’t get the job. Hummm… me thinks why not ? Thought process then goes something like this ;
10am : It must have been my lack of experience ?
So…I am unqualified to get a job in this area. Every one can see that.
So…I will never have enough experience to get a job. My qualification is useless.
So…I will never get a job in the field I love.
So…I will have to go for boring jobs below my capabilities.
So…I will not get paid much and will be poor.
So..Everyone will think I am a loser.
So… it a fact : I am a loser.
5pm : Loser sobs into soup
Recognise this ? Yeah I know and we wonder why our mood can go from upbeat to misery in one day. Life throws at us all sorts of problems and obstacles , yet we sometimes check ourselves and ask ” why do I feel so low ? ” . Our thoughts have incredible power over our feelings . It can be like a self perpetuating cycle . negative thoughts = negative feelings= negative thoughts . The two way high way we can’t avoid,or can we ?
Anxiety is a normal body response to danger and it alerts us to action and gives us the motivation to solve problems. We need it to be our mentor and our life coach at times. It can be a welcome support and navigating guide in times of life obstacles . However the shadow side of anxiety is its ability to be kicked into action for situations where it is not needed. This is when it lacks the ability to differentiate between the need to simply process a problem and ruminating ourselves into an anxious blubbering mess with thoughts that are unproductive and crippling. Anxiety distorts our thinking by causing us to overestimate the likelihood of something going wrong, and imagine the potential consequences as worse than they really are. Sometimes, just taking a moment to think about these facts can help us recognize our irrational thoughts.
Checking in with your thoughts is a great self help tool. The thinker , thinking, about their thinking, and back tracking on their thoughts , to see what has been going on . If I do some investigating, follow the paper trail I can see that Debbie Downer has been between my ears doing what she does best : sabotaging me.
If we challenge Debbie, if we ask her ” where is the evidence for this terrible thing happening ? She will scuttle away or maybe put up some very weak defence that will not hold up in court.
This takes effort and time. Its like a muscle that needs to be worked. It won’t happen over night but it will happen ! We can consciously and diligently replace these negative thoughts with more realistic ones :
Maybe there were a lot of applications.
I will have more luck come my way, if I keep at it.
Now I have time to go over my resume and fine tune it for better outcomes.
This is the essence of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. We can only do it if we become aware of our negative narrative. Many of us have years of practice of this self defeating thought pattern , we are very good at it ! Learning to take time to hone in on our thinking and doing vivisection on those thoughts that do not serve us, are self sabotaging and create over the long term, anxiety and depression is a worth while exercise for the well being of our brain.
So if you feel Debbie Downer crashing your party and turning it into a fizzer, tell her to get her own life, challenge her , and replace her with a friend, a real friend, someone who is your best friend – you.