Automatic Thoughts

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“I grasped two things: I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change.” — Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

In my sessions the main thing we’ve been working on is controlling the thoughts that send me spiraling out of control with anxiety or depression.

It’s not an easy thing to do.

The first thing my therapist pointed out is that everyone has these Automatic Thoughts. Often times they can cycle through your mind so fast that you’re hardly aware you’re thinking them.

It was nice to know that these kind of thoughts aren’t unique to me, or even to people with mental illnesses, but are actually a common issue that anyone can have difficulties with. It feels good to know you’re not the only one.

For now my biggest struggle has been trying to stop my racing thoughts long enough to identify exactly what I’m freaking out about. If I can manage to put my panicked feelings into actual words then I can start to try to figure out which type of Automatic Thought I’m dealing with and how to fight it.

When I start to get panicked I try to breathe deeply and repeat a little mantra I created to help remind me that although I feel out of control, things are actually alright.

“You are okay, you’ll be okay”.

Sometimes in the thick of it it’s hard to remember that I’m not actually dying, the world isn’t actually ending, and against every feeling I have, my life will go on.

If that works (it doesn’t always) then I can start to detangle my web of thoughts and figure out which one is causing me to melt down.

So far I’ve struggled a bit to figure out which type of Unhelpful Thinking Habit each of my Automatic Thoughts falls into, but next week I’ll share a couple of my most common ones and how I’m working to defeat them.

Do you struggle with Automatic Thoughts or Unhelpful Thinking Habits? If you’d like to share yours in the comments next week then take a look at the picture below and think about which most greatly affects you.

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