Charan sparsh Swamiji. 

Today, let me talk about negative thinking – it’s anatomy and typical negative questions which your mind asks you when you feel mentally weak and how various negative presumptions torment you during your low phase. Also a powerful way is proposed to mitigate through the catastrophe.

Do you feel like you have lost all your power or become weak and vulnerable? That bad things happen and there’s not much you can do about it? That your situation is hopeless and out of control? Depression puts a negative sign on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. Even your mind can turn the most obvious positive event into highly negative one.

When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression / low mental phase and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes—known as cognitive distortions—aren’t realistic. They do not have any real existence and are only nurtured by your own mind. These thoughts do not have any significance and they just feed on your wildest imaginary fear. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it and become a slave of such behavior. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts (pattern identification) that are fueling your depression, and replace them with a more rational and balanced way of thinking.

Some typical Negative, unrealistic ways of thinking that fuel depression are listed as below

1. All-or-nothing thinking:

Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no gray reality. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“If everything is not perfect, I’m a total failure.”)

2. Overgeneralization:

Generalizing from one of a kind negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“I made a mistake while driving the car due to which it got scratches, I’ll never be able to drive a car properly.”) A second proposition could be: (“Last time I could not clear the exam, this time also something unfortunate will plague me”)

3. The mental filter:

Ignoring positive event / unfolding  and focusing on the negative aspect of the same. Picking up and magnifying the one thing that went wrong which may be insignificant or can be easily fixed, rather than all the things that went right. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“I got the simplest question on the test wrong. I’m an idiot.”) (even though I have successfully attempted the most difficult question)

4. Diminishing the positive:

Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count at all even though they are very much genuine. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“My Guru told me that I am in the path of Spiritual Progress, but I think he / she was just being nice and did not want to hurt my sentiments”)

5. Jumping to conclusions:

Making negative interpretations without actual evidence supported by facts and figures. You act like a mind reader and think more about what others think about you. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“He must think I’m terrible and good for nothing”). You may also be donning the shoes of a Nostradamus like doom-fortune teller. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“I’ll be stuck in this vicious cycle of misery forever.”)

6. Emotional reasoning:

Believing that the way you feel reflects reality.  Typical proposition of this thought is: (“I feel like such a loser. Everyone must be laughing at me and my silly mistakes!”)

7. ‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ guidelines:

Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules. Setting strict boundary of operation. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“I should never have attempted that task. I’m an idiot, for thinking I could do it.”)

8. Labeling:

Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser; a good for nothing fellow.”)

9. Self-doubting:

Doubting your own ability even if you are able to carry out the task. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“Somehow I pulled it off last time or this time, but I won’t be lucky always”)

10. One failure cascading to all areas:

If you fail in a particular area of life, you think that you are a failure in all aspects of life. Typical proposition of this thought is: (“As I could not hold the water bottle properly while drinking and spilling it all over, I cannot ride a two wheeler”)

The thoughts may sound very wired for them who have not experienced a major depressive episode by God’s grace. But the ones who have experienced the horror of depression, they can co-relate to the same and can perceive the thought and consequent threat to be very real.

Methodology to overcome these thoughts in a systematic manner creating an all purpose neuron path permanently:

Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:

  1. “What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?”
  2. “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?”
  3. “Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?”
  4. “How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?”
  5. “Why these thoughts were not troubling me when I was all right?”

As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression. Yes, I acknowledge that it is very difficult to break the shackles, but not impossible. Keep a journal handy and jot down the thoughts. One thing really helps: write the most troubling thought on a piece of paper and then tear it into pieces telling yourself loudly “Go away you bad thought, you have no place in my life. you do not deserve to be in my mind.” After practicing the exercise 2 /3 times, the intensity of the negativity will decline dramatically.

So, which thought are you going to tear off today?

Dedicated to all those who are struggling with the low mental phase defined as “Depression” and praying for their speedy recovery at the lotus feet of Swamiji and Shri Hari.

Thank you all for your patience. Jai Shri Hari…