You know that "helpful" advice people often give to us when we're in that dark place:
"Just be positive!"
"Just think positive!"
"Just think positive!"
Great, right? No.
People usually mean well when they advise this, but if you're struggling with emotional distress then this can top the chart of Most Irritating Comments. Often people don't understand that a low mood can't just be flicked to a happy one, just because someone demands it. You can't turn off anxiety like a tap.
What I found helpful was embracing open thinking. Going from negative to positive thinking seemed way too daunting, but somewhere inside me I realised I could get on board with open thinking.
Let me explain.
So I understand you might feel terrible, but try to be open to the idea that it could improve. Be open to a suggestion. Be open to the idea that your future (both near and far) could be a little brighter than this moment. The very fact you're reading this post means you're open to trying a new way of looking at things! You're already practicing open thinking! Being open to someone else's ideas is worth it because something needs to change in order for your situation to change.
For myself, professionals and well meaning family would give me suggestions. And straight away I'd think oh I can't do that, I'm too depressed or I can't do that because I'm such a useless human.
With those cants, you're affirming to yourself that you cannot do something. Of course you can! Everyone can.
So instead I would tell myself OK self, what they're suggesting sounds a bit overwhelming and impossible but I'm open to it. I'm open to trying something new, because goodness knows my way isn't working out. I can't just switch on positive thinking but I choose to be open to new ideas.
Doors began to open. It took the pressure off me. I didn't have to commit to positive thinking, but my brain was at least thinking in a helpful direction. It allowed me a stepping stone to the elusive Land of Positive Thinking. Open thinking is about allowing the words of possibility into your life again.
- Maybe one day I'll be free.
- Hopefully today will be better than yesterday.
- Perhaps tomorrow will be better.
- Possibly that suggestion he/she gave me might be worth a try.
- Maybe I could try...
- If they can do it, maybe I can too.
- I wonder what could improve this situation.