So today I have been making flashcards for myself. I am really trying to change my thoughts and behaviors, BUT IT”S NOT EASY!! 😦 I used flashcards when I was in school to help me remember things, so I thought I could do the same with self help therapy techniques.
One of the cards I made up included different questions that I can ask myself to help control my thoughts. I learned the other day that thoughts are not facts. This may be obvious to every “normal” person, but I am not normal. Thoughts, I’ve learned, are generated randomly and are automatic messages from our brains. They are not necessarily true and not necessarily helpful. We set ourselves up for failure by believing these thoughts. We become upset and react to situations automatically. When we accept the crazy thoughts running through our head as truth, they just keep coming and coming. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stop from basking in the negative thoughts you have? You start thinking it’s true, and then you can’t stop your brain from going even deeper into that negative thought. Thoughts pile up. You become more distraught, more hopeless, more angery, more anxious. We need to learn to challenge these thoughts. We need to ask ourselves if these thoughts are true.
When you hear a negative thought pop into your head, THINK about it instead of immediately believing it. You hear, “You’re so stupid. You’ll never do anything right.” Think about it. Is that true? No, you’re not stupid. Why not? How do you know? Maybe you are taking classes and doing well. That means you’re not stupid. Maybe you spend a lot of time writing poety or stories. That means you’re not stupid. Maybe you immerse yourself in literature and have an extensive vocabulary. That means you’re not stupid. Next time you have a thought, challenge it. Ask yourself if this is really true. List the reasons why it is NOT true. If you need to (and this was suggested by an old therapist), write down three reasons why you aren’t stupid and post them around your house, stick them in your purse or pocket. When you have that thought (and if it isn’t that you’re stupid – that’s my demon to wrestle with – write down the reasons why you aren’t insert-negative-attribute-here), pull out the little note card (or big ass flashing neon sign!) and read it over and over until you know that that thought you are having isn’t true. If we don’t challenge our thoughts, they will never stop coming.
Another set of flashcards I made listed some positive affirmations. I actually made a bunch with different affirmations based on the mood I’m wrestling with. Some of the ones I used are “I am a needed and worthwhile person.” “I am in control of my life.” “My life has meaning and purpose.” “I am a unique and special person.” “I will take notice of the many positive things this day has to offer.” “Everything is getting better every day.” “All is well, right here, right now.” And the list goes on and on. You can find more at www.get.gg.
So, I guess that’s all my rambling…for now anyway. I have some more flashcards to make up.