This is Part 2 of How to Respond Intrusive and Obsessive Thoughts . One kind of challenge that comes up for depressed people are those persistent self-critical thoughts that so many depressed people think. When these arise, you can use affirmations to replace the critic’s negative self-talk with a more realistic and compassionate view of yourself. Here’s a link to Part 1.
Here are some examples:
Inner Critic’s Self-Talk Replacement Affirmation
You’re not good enough. I’m okay the way I am.
I hate myself. I like myself.
You’re worthless. I’m awesome.
You can’t do anything right. There are many things I can do.
No one cares what I have to say. I have important things to share.
Ultimately, the best way to inoculate yourself against the inner critic is to practice self-acceptance and self-compassion..
A third thing to respond to intrusive thoughts is ask yourself, “Is this really true,” This is what is done in cognitive therapy where you challenge the irrational thought and place it with a more realistic one. For example, one of my clients had this thought pop into her head while walking in a local park: Other people are disgusted by me.” So she asked herself, “Is this really true? How do I know what the people around me are thinking. They are probably so absorbed on their own worlds that they aren’t even noticing me. “
And finally, you can respond to the intrusive thought by using the principle of distraction. And while distraction usually has a bad connotation, in this context it is a positive thing, in that it means participating in an activity that distracts you from the negative thought and brings you into the here and now, such as going on a nice walk around the block or watching your favorite YouTube video.
I remember many years ago during a bad depressive I was living with my parents in their retirement community. I made friends with a person my age who worked in the pro tennis shop, and any time he saw me obsessing about thoughts of gloom and doom, he would day, “Doug, I will meet you on the tennis court in five minutes.” Before I knew it, all I could think about was returning his wicked serve over the net.
If you would like an extreme version of using the distraction technique, I recently posted a video that tells the story of how one person used skydiving to get him out of his head and into the present moment. I guarantee you that when he jumped out of the plane and was in free fall, all he could think about was one thing—pulling that parachute chord!
Then, for those of who believe in better living through chemistry, there is an antidepressant named Luvox, that’s L-U-V-O-X as in X-ray, which is used to treat people with OCD. Two of my support group members told me that taking this medication reduces both the frequency and the intensity if their negative thoughts.
Finally, before we who suffer from depression and OCD feel too sorry for yourself, think of the poor schizophrenic with who actual hears REAL voices. I once attended a virtual reality exhibit where I entered the virtual world of someone with schizophrenia. After two minutes of hearing persistent voices whispering in my hears, I thought I was going crazy. This is one case where the benefits of antipsychotic drugs might outweigh the risks.