Identifying Gloomy Thinking
This morning I’m having gloomy thoughts. Despite the fact it’s halfway through May the weather is cold enough to put the heating on. It has been pouring with rain for hours and the prospects for getting out and about (in anything other than a thick coat) today or the rest of the week are poor. Oh well, on with other activities I suppose.
What makes my gloomy thoughts different to those of a low mood? Well, I’m experiencing a low level of frustration because some of the things I enjoy doing are being denied, plus those heavy dark skies seem to have been around for months. However, it’s only because I’m writing about it that my focus hasn’t shifted elsewhere. This may seem a minor issue but it is key to understanding something about moods. We can all feel fed up, down-in-the-dumps, or just plain miserable, but our capacity to move on from this, or not, will help to shape the outcome.
In a previous post I asked the question, what are low moods? I concluded by saying that certain styles of thinking tend to take priority over positive thinking and become exaggerated. In low moods gloomy thoughts are invariably about ourselves, and the way we see our world. For example, you may have a belief that people just don’t like you. This just happens to correspond with a belief that most people aren’t worth the effort of getting to know because they will be unkind, or critical, or will gossip about you afterwards. It’s the permanence of such thoughts that result in low moods.
If we unpick what’s going on with this style of thinking certain features are revealed. First, these thoughts seem to pop up automatically and without any special effort. Then, when it comes to examining one, we generally find they are unrealistic or unreasonable and often result from jumping to conclusions. What muddies the water is the fact that, to you, they appear correct at the time and the more frequently they occur the worse you feel. Such is the way of thinking errors.
Putting ourselves under scrutiny is often far harder than we might like to admit. It certainly isn’t easy to challenge long held personal beliefs yet if we are to move beyond a pattern of gloomy thinking that could lead to depression it’s exactly what we need to do. In order to diminish negative thinking and stop taking things personally we need to see gloomy thoughts and unhelpful thinking styles for what they are. In my next post I’ll be looking at some self-help techniques to help turn things around.