So, what could be some of the healthier thoughts and actions that can help to put these unhealthy thoughts at bay?
We know that what we think often leads to how we feel. It starts with awareness of our thoughts, a mindfulness of the thinking patterns that lead us down a negative path, that is deemed disruptive. With that awareness, we can put things into perspective, to challenge that thought and/or thinking pattern. Can we identify whether this is irrational, whether we are catastrophising, or having a filtered thought? The more we can identify it, the more we may open ourselves up to other perspective thoughts that can shift our outlook on the situation. We may not be able to control the situation unfolding in front of us, but we can try to control how we perceive it and how we react emotionally.
We can also try to be mindful of our past experiences – the difficulties we encountered and how we overcame those. Recalling that we had the strength to overcome it then, can we not overcome what we are going through now? It is that simple memory that can remind us that we are stronger than what we think we are, especially during the moments when we are feeling vulnerable and dejected. It may even help to write things down and help jog our memory in these circumstances. The act of journaling is simple yet effective – to form a narrative of our experience describing the thoughts and feelings, engaging with our emotions, processing the situation by forming a coherent story, how we are coping with it, our reflections, and the journey onwards. There is so much to learn from our past experiences that give us the opportunity for growth. It also paves way for that little bit of hope that can give us mental strength.
Together with our thoughts, healthy actions can also contribute to our strength. We can practice more compassion towards ourselves – treat our self like how we would treat others. Be kind and non-judgmental towards our self, for having negative thoughts, for feeling frustration at our inability to overcome what we are going through, for having bad days, for having imperfections. How would we treat others that are going through similar problems? Perhaps we can first start by acting this way towards our self.
It can also be healthy to reach out, to talk about what is going on. Talking about it makes us feel less alone, to know that other people may be going through similar hardships and are also in the process of overcoming them. It can act like a support system. Sometimes it helps to lift the burden that we are carrying within ourselves by confiding in others.
All this can help to build our resilience - the process of adapting well when facing adversity or significant stressors. Being resilient is not black and white, like a switch you can turn on or off. Resilience takes time, effort, practice, and motivation. It is possible for all of us to work towards, no matter how impossible you may think it is.
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