Researchers know that depressive people like me tend to see the world through a negative lens. For instance, on an unusually hot day in the summer, a well-adjusted person might think, “This is a perfect pool day!” A depressive person like me will think, “Definitely global warming. The world is going to end soon.”
Years ago, a therapist taught me that I needed to counter my unrealistic negativity by constantly feeding myself more positive, realistic thoughts. At first, I didn’t think it would work, but she told me that was just my Negative Voice talking. Don’t you hate when your therapist has an answer for every excuse like that?
Anyway, I tried this positive affirmation business, and it worked amazingly well.
It has been about 15 years since then, and the positive affirmations have caused a second personality to form within me. I’d love to call her Miss Positive. In reality, it’s probably more accurate to call her Miss Slightly Less Negative. At any rate, these are the types of things that this more realistic voice tells me when life feels like a struggle.
(Note that not all of these sayings are original. Some are a part of the human collective consciousness, but I still find them useful.)
When Life Feels Too Hard
“Everything always works out eventually. This will, too. And if it doesn’t work out, that means I’m dead, so it won’t matter anyway.”
“Anything is possible, even this.”
“Just put one foot in front of the other.”
When I’m Too Scared to Take a Risk
“It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all.”
“I need to do this. Otherwise I’ll always wonder, ‘What if I’d had the courage?’”
When I’m Lusting After Something I Can’t Afford
“If I had that, I’d probably be really unhappy.”
When I’m Wallowing in Self Pity
“Build a bridge and get over it.”
“There are much worse things than this.”
“This, too, shall pass.”
When I Feel Overwhelmed
“I’ll get it all done. I just might not get it all done today.”
“Am I really going to care about this when I am on my deathbed?”
When I Feel Like a Good-for-Nothing Loser that My Own Dog Doesn’t Love
“I’m definitely going to get my period tomorrow.”
When I’m Mad at My Husband
“Someone has to be the big person here. He’s obviously not going to be that person, so it’s going to have to be me.”
When I’m Tempted to Skip Sex, Exercise or Meditation
“I’ll feel better when it’s over.”
“If I don’t do this, the Negative Voices will take over. No one wants that.”
When I Feel Mean Mommy About to Surface
“If I die of a massive heart attack right now, do I really want my last words to be, “Stop acting like such a brat”?”
“Just close your mouth and walk away from the child.”
“Ignore her. Ignore her. Ignore her. Ignore her. Ignore her. Ignore her.”
When Mean Mommy Surfaces Anyway
“My mom told me that I got on her last nerve about 6 billion times, and I turned out all right.”
“She’s going to end up in therapy whether I slip up and call her a brat or not. Stop feeling so guilty.”
“At least I’m not as bad as that lady on Halloween who cursed her kid out because her kid wouldn’t walk up to a door to get more candy. Now that’s a kid who will end up in therapy.”
When Someone Leaves a Nasty Comment on My Blog
“That says more about her/him than it says about me.”
What are the things that you tell yourself during life’s harder moments?
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.