More depressed thinking habits
The following are a few examples of further unhelpful habits which contribute to angry or anxious habit spirals, and therefore to the depression habit spiral.
Rule-bound thinkingWe all use a variety of "rules" or principles to guide our action and streamline thought processes. But unrealistically rigid ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ set up stressful regular experiences of frustration and lack of control. This leads to angry or anxious feelings, which in turn intensify the wish for the world to operate according to clearer rules… When applied to your own behaviour, the habit of rule-bound thinking can lead to unhelpful self-bullying.
"Control freakery"Rule-bound thinking is closely linked to "control freakery", or the unrealistic attempt to keep rigid control over ourselves and outside events. Our attitude towards control is very commonly infected by unhelpful all-or-nothing thinking. Aiming for either ‘total control’ or ‘no control’ results in things being chaotically out of control, dramatically raising anxiety or anger levels. True control results from a flexible, relaxed and realistic approach.
CatastrophisingCatastrophising is another extension of rule-bound thinking, when deviations from the rules or expectations are experienced as disasters. Thinking your life will be ruined because you fail one exam is an example of catastrophising. This habit is linked to perfectionism and other habits, like superstitious thinking, which are focused on trying to achieve an unrealistic level of control.
Hyper-vigilanceBeing appropriately aware of risks helps us to be sensibly cautious. But risks can't be totally eliminated from life. Over-focus on physical dangers such as plane crashes or psychological dangers such as rejection or criticism raises adrenalin levels without helping us to do anything about these dangers. Unrealistic risk aversion and hyper-vigilance can be reinforced in modern ‘blame’ culture (see page on depression-inducing society).
AvoidanceOver-use of the "flight" response to stressful situations is a particularly risky habit. If you never give yourself the opportunity to face difficulties (for fear of failure), you give yourself instead a kind of ‘evidence’ that these difficulties can’t be faced. At its worst, this habit can lead to complete inertia or even agoraphobia (ie. being unable to go out).
Any of these sound familiar?
If you experience high levels of anxiety or anger, or if any of these habits sound familiar, it is especially important for you to learn about managing stress levels, as well as working on challenging these and other depressed thinking habits.
Can you see yourself in any of these examples?
It is so important to recognise when we are stressed out.
It isn't always easy to do.
If you're like me, you avoid asking for help.
Don't. That's my advice. For what it's worth.
Hopefully, in time, my psychotherapy training will also get me more 'in the know', au fait, as the Frenchies say: I'll be better able to handle what life chucks my way, threatening as it does, to push me off my Penny Farthing into another century...
Then, I will be better equipped to help others. ...Which is right where I want to be.
That's my two penn'orth!
What do you wish for, mes bloggy Einsteins?
Fhina is waiting, and her clinic door is slightly ajar...
Image courtesy of Getty