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How to deal with obsessive repetitive negative thought patterns

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by KagamineLen, Nov 10, 2019 at 10:10 PM.

  1. KagamineLen

    KagamineLen Gay and autistic midlife weeb.

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    So, it’s like this.

    There has been a lot that has happened in my life that I now realize was pure BS. But most of it happened a while ago, and I can still work myself up about it by letting repetitive thought patterns drag me into a pit of resentment instead of focusing on what I actually can work on changing in my own life.

    I wish letting go of baggage was as easy as flipping a light switch. This is only holding me back and distracting me from living how I want to live.

    So, I need to work on reprogramming my default thought patterns from “None of that was remotely fair and I am pissed about it all” to “What do I want to do to enrich my life and the lives of those I care about today?”.

    Any bright ideas here?
     
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  2. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Well, I was ruminating in a somewhat negative way when I woke at 3.45 am, and usually what I do is to resign myself to being awake and distract myself with something like reading, planning, or googling. So my suggestion is, distract yourself, have some preplanned ways of doing that that work for you, and just take your mind away from the thoughts.

    Probably there's no further use in going over that old stuff, another way to mark the end of doing that would be to say some full on goodbyes to it, maybe light a candle and have a little ceremony? Then recall that, when you find yourself there again, have a minute of respect for the person you were who went through that, then distract yourself from it with something that works for you, a hot or cold drink, something to read or do.
     
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  3. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I distract myself when I find myself having negative thoughts or anxiety. Today I woke up early and started to wrry about an upcoming medical scan. So I got up, made myself some coffee and watched a video. The action of getting up and making coffee made me forget that thought for a while, but no guarantee it won't come back - I just have to keep distracting myself so as not to dwell on it.
     
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  4. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    focus on the above to distract yourself, it's a beautiful thing :)

    congratulate yourself for getting through the BS and realise you're still here today because you're awesome.

    think about your plans to enrich your life and the lives of those you care about.

    The injustice of the past will keep on rearing it's toxic, ugly head.
    (it's on a thought loop, determined to be heard)
    Don't give it any power.

    When it comes up thinking something like,
    "not today thank you"
    and redirecting thoughts to your plans for enriching your life instead.

    Using your time and energy for your future and those you care about :)
     
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  5. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Another vote for distraction here.

    I get mentally stuck on negative stuff frequently, whether it's things I'm scared of or just depressed about. And the only thing that works is to do some activity that requires enough mental engagement that there's no room left for whatever was bothering me.
     
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  6. Aspychata

    Aspychata My Art Work

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    This has taken several years of failed self-programing to finally get here today. Which today is, stuff happens,but we are survivors and life is more fun to live in the now then in the past.

    So transition thoughts to future is what l try, when the past pops up. Lately,l also look at how far l have come. For me, l was a battered female that suffered thru psychological and emotional abuse for years. But wallowing around in the past did nothing for me, so l live for today now.
     
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  7. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    One of my favourite replies to all the looping self-recrimination is: "I'm already doing the right thing". It's now in the corner of an art piece that I did, and it's up on a wall to remind me. You can add whatever statement you want at the end of it.
     
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  8. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    Aggressively counter-program yourself. Several commenters have mentioned thought "comebacks" to the negative repetitive thoughts. Select a message you can really believe in, and make signs and post-its to leave around your space, to remind yourself.

    What I did in my life to accept losses and disability is to post "less is more" around my home. But you should pick something that works for you. Another maxim of mine, although I did not post messages about it, is "Living well is the best revenge."

    In short, replace something negative with something positive. Distraction, which other people mentioned, is also good, but I think replacing one behavior with a different, incompatible behavior (replace negative thought with positive one) is a great aid to moving beyond something.
     
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  9. Dadwith2Autisticsons

    Dadwith2Autisticsons Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    In my opinion, the simple solution of distraction is only part of the answer, and that answer alone works best for perhaps less extreme cases. Distract yourself to what for those with more moderate or extreme cases? To another negative thought about something else? To another negative thought about someone else? And/or to another negative thought about yourself? That answer alone will help some yes, but it may seems like a band aid to those who either obsess more, or to those who were trained over a life to be negative, or if certain genetics are involved.

    The answer I feel largely depends on the level of negative obsessive thoughts, the frequency and duration of those episodes, the length of time one has had that negative programming over the months or years, and the source of those severe negative thoughts, feelings, anxiety, and pain. Distraction is at most ten percent of the answer I feel.

    Let’s start with the source? Are the negative thoughts partially because of low self esteem? Are the negative thoughts partially because of a lack of inadequate past or present close support system? Are the negative thoughts from some extra general anxiety, post traumatic, routine, or obsessive situation or condition? Are the thoughts because of pessimistic nature?

    The bad news first: I feel you will need some daily effort to correct any negative programming. The good news: You have made a great first start, by uncovering the suspected problem and a major possible source for such. The great news: You are reaching out for help, and wanting to change any negative programming, and it may be resolved easier than thought.

    Am I saying my suggestions will definitely work for everyone, or that part of my answer is to change the unchangeable parts of one’s condition, or to change the fabric of one’s being? No. What I am saying though is that for many cases, you do not need twenty years of therapy to accomplish little to nothing, but a quicker plan.

    While in some some cases, it could be some anti-anxiety medication to help balance better the lower serotonin levels, for those with OCD for instance, and while others may do well, like with a therapist that can either talk through your traumas with some step-by-step immersion therapy, or cognitive therapy program, I myself preferred self-help.

    After having hit rock bottom from being painfully withdrawn and avoidant as a youth, teen and young adult, from having no friends, obsessing negatively about everything, having had faced daily environmental traumas until age nineteen, and from letting others and situations control me, I finally realized I had had enough daily negativity and intense anxiety.

    The choice was to either fight or flee. This time, I chose to fight. As bad as my parents were to me, and as bad as others and the world treated me, with me failing time and time again, and feeling critiqued and rejected time and time again, and with my suffering and silence worsening to the point of no return, I did not want my parents or those others to win.

    As horribly as I was socially, and as bad as I thought I was because everyone said I was bad and did bad things to me, I still felt I had an ounce of good in me that survived that abuse, and I wanted and needed to get rid of or reduce greatly those negative opinions, feelings, obsessions, and to pursue some plan that reversed that.

    The plan was for me to analyze myself and my own anxieties, fears, abilities, limitations, capabilities, needs and goals, and then list the things I did not want to change or felt I could not change, and the things I felt could be better and should be bettered at, to accomplish both short term needs and long term happiness, functionality, and a feeling of success.

    And then I decided to research methods that could help me hone, acquire or develop those needs and goal, but taking into account if I did not believe that a certain plan described was for me, I kept looking until I found something I could use or to alter that a bit to reflect my needs, beliefs, limitations, capabilities, and that took into account my current situation.

    What worked for me was to first pick an attainable goal. If I felt it was too big, I had to make it smaller, in order to then have that belief I could achieve that. This would increase my motivation to pursue that, and it would increase the energy or strength to achieve that. By then creating a plan of action, and revising if obstacles occurred, this was my mindset.

    Specifically, I knew my obsessions and negativity was largely because of my very low self esteem, my traumatic upbringing and environments, my developing conditions, and the resulting negative programming. Whether genetics also played a role, I was unsure. I just knew the answer to my recovery or bettering immensely my health and situation would be through my own efforts, not others’ efforts.

    So, through much self-discovery, using my introspective, analytical and detailed abilities, I decided to pick shorter term goals to think more positively, to improve my self esteem, and to worry less, thinking for my situation all these were somehow related. I had a belief I could achieve these goals, and I felt I had the energy, from having survived my condition(s), bullying or rejecting others, and my past.

    I felt I just had to redirect all that negative and obsessive energy and daily effort from beating myself mentally up, to things that were more positive and constructive. The key I knew was to change my very unhealthy routines, fixations, rituals and mindset, to creating practices or routines that were more happy, relaxing, and less negative.

    In order to have a greater chance to make my long term goals met, which was my desire to feel less alone, through having a friends or a long term relationship, to be or feel more functional or successful in life, to feel in control of my life, or to be more content in life, I felt I needed to reprogram my mind to think more positively, to worry less, and to love myself more.

    Below are 8 such things I did daily to accomplish those three things, with the reasonable goal of six to ten weeks to change for the better much my mindset. Give the below a try. You never know. It could work much for you too. (See next post for specifics).
     
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  10. Dadwith2Autisticsons

    Dadwith2Autisticsons Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Below is what I did daily to help transform for the better a lifelong negative, self-defeating and obsessive mindset, to a more positive, relaxed, and confident person, who no longer let negative others, harmful situations, and past traumas control me or determine my functionality or happiness in life.


    (1) Self Praise daily: Everyday I found one or more good things to say about me and to focus on, several times a day, whether it be a trait, an action I did that, a bad action I did not do, something good said about me, and like a positive phrase about me, to say over and over to myself. Also, like secretly give yourself a positive nickname, or use a positive trait about yourself as a password, and rename items near you to reflect something good about you.


    (2) Reward yourself daily. Those with very low self esteem or who are used to pleasing others or denying themselves of pleasures, and those who are trained to think more obsessively or negatively, they deserve to ease anxieties, negativity and stress by either getting or doing things they enjoy, are good at, or that they like or love. Too often we are trained to put others first, or we subconsciously do not make time for ourselves. Daily reward yourself somehow. By receiving something or doing something that you see as a positive, this will make you feel deserving then of compliments and good deeds you get from others. Even if that reward is partially just more time for yourself, this is great too.


    (3) Use positive visualizations daily to change negative thoughts and feelings to positive ones. By doing so repetitively, for at least a few times daily, like once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once at night, over weeks of doing this, this can trick your mind to thinking these were actual real life experiences. So, if one goal for me as a very shy person was to talk and initiate more, with confidence, and to be at ease socializing with people, I visualized that in graphic detail, and I visualized me often succeeding there, by daydreaming of numerous different such sceneries involving social successes.


    If another goal was to deal better with a traumatic past, I imagined myself no longer as a bad or weak child that feared or hated my parents, but I visualized in detail me as being brave, a great person, and strong those years, and now, with my parents apologizing sincerely for everything. I daydreamed how I learned so much from that environment and from those persons who likely cared much, but just did not know how to show it due to their own conditions or anxieties. As well, I visualized daily of the times too my parents did great things. Over time, the more one has such positive visualizations, regardless what your specific visualizations are, whether true or fictional, this will indeed start not only start changing a negative mindset, but cause one to worry and fear less as well, and causing one a feeling to be more in control.


    (4) Change Positives to Negatives daily. Yes, at first this will be hard too, for one with long term negative thinking, obsessiveness and worrying, but over time, by constantly finding something good in a bad thing or situation, this should not only cause much less times daily thinking, feeling and acting negatively, but more time daily thinking, feeling and acting in a positive way. In the beginning, it may be more difficult, but the more you practice twisting these thoughts and feelings, the easier it will be to do so. Then, over time, your mind should be naturally seem more positive, and your actions the same. This does not mean that temporarily, one cannot be negative, or that never can a person be negative, as sometimes we need to see something in a negative light to learn from it, or to correct some mistake, or to get it out of our system to heal. But, once the lesson is learned, and that natural feeling felt, dwelling on it more than one should, often produces more harm than good.


    Let’s say for example I by mistake dropped a dish and it broke to pieces. Yes, I can be briefly upset at myself for that, in order to try to be more careful next time, but then focus on the fact it least it was not a hundred to thousands dollar dish, and at least nobody got hurt by the sharp pieces. Also, another example. Let’s say one blurted out the wrong words by mistake because of comprehension difficulties or when under duress, and someone else felt hurt by the words. Yes, it’s ok to feel embarrassed or bad about saying that, but sooner than later tell yourself, “I learned now that those words can hurt, or it was not my intention and I understand things better now, and it gives me an opportunity to show the other I can be polite, and tell them am sorry.” By repetitively finding and focusing on some good you can find in something originally seen as a negative or bad, this helps one become less worrying, anxious, negative, fearful and pessimistic, and more optimistic, confident, positive and relaxed.


    (5) Divert your mind from something specific that you see as anxiety or fear producing, bad or negative, to something totally different that is more happy, calming, beautiful and positive. For instance, instead of dwelling on a mistake you made, a trait you perceive as being substandard, or an inaction you did that resulted in something bad, or some inability you have, quickly change or divert your mind to something else that would be seen as positive in nature, like some beautiful or relaxing nature setting, a video game you love, an activity you enjoy, or a dream you have. The less time you are having negative thoughts or focusing on such, and the more easier you can think of something else positive at a moments notice, this creates more healthy and positive thoughts and routines, and it creates one to be more in control of what they think and feel.


    (6) Temporarily Altering Posture, Gesture and Facial Expression. Another way to help get out of a negative thought or feeling, or to stop a harmful action, is by changing your posture, gesture and/or or facial expression temporarily to more quickly reach one’s desired physical and mental state. Admittedly though, this technique may work best for those who are not lifelong maskers, or for those who naturally are able to show easier the emotions they feel, using body, gesture and facial expression.


    This is because the theory is that since many people smile when they are happy, stand up more stiff when confident, have head down or body slumped when shy, lacking energy or sad, self-help experts then feel if one wants to trick the mind to feel that more positive way, or get out of that more negative state, then alter the body to those desired gestures and positions, to get your mind jump started to being in that other mood. Again though, it may best and most natural though for all moods and feelings to be experienced first, regardless how negative, at least temporarily, for proper learning to occur, and for healing to occur.


    (7) Find one or more supportive, understanding or positive persons, and avoid negative persons, when able. This will help speed up the process in being more positive, worrying less, and in having greater self-esteem. More positive support from another or others, and more time and healthy space to think and feel, away from negative others, will mean more time, motivation and energy to work towards your goals, without setbacks from those others. When you receive support, true compliments, and friendship from another, and when you are distanced from critiques, rejection, and those who do not believe in you or see the good in you, it can result in more time needed to accomplish your goals.


    (8) Use humor daily. Make light of stressful or negative situations or things by sometimes using humor. Too often people take the world too seriously, and sometimes for good reason. But, life is what we make of it. People can have conditions, adverse situations, and need assistance in some way, but there is no saying we cannot use humor during some of these moments. Humor is a way too of reducing anxiety and telling our mind it’s ok to think, feel and process information in this way as well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019 at 12:16 PM
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  11. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Negative thoughts can creep in often, and for a long time, when you have nothing of importance commanding your attention. I'm unsure if this is true, but I believe that young people with ASD cling to hobbies and special interests to escape depression and sadness. Being fully invested mentally in a project doesn't leave room for external annoyance. That's why we love our special interests. I would assume that the same would be true for adults experiencing the same negative thoughts, sadness, or depression. It's easy for me to agree with all the other suggestions provided to you - get busy with something, switch topics, get meds, or infuse your life with positive, happy thoughts. Too much negativity, regardless of the reason, is not healthy for your mind or spirit. Focusing on something negative that can't be changed is a waste of time and energy. You have to come to terms with those thoughts. Some of them might be less important than you think. Only you really know.

    Years ago, I recognized that I had too many dilemmas and worries at the same time. It was impossible to deal with all of them at once. I ended up spending all my waking hours focused on negativity. When I consciously limited "negative thought time" to 1 hour per day, I began to understand how to handle each issue one at a time. It was a baby steps approach. It was like divide and conquer. Focusing on negativity was nothing but pushing my face into the problem over and over again. I focused on solutions, which were part of gaining progress to alleviate the problematic issues. You can only do that if you disregard the same negative thoughts. It wasn't easy to control negative thoughts, so I initiated steps and ideas to find solutions. That was more positive, thus lightening the load of all the negativity. Negativity accumulates and it is as heavy as lead. Establishing a pro-active regimen and sticking to it helped me get through. I still go through periods of negativity, but employ these methods to keep the negativity at bay if I can. I have no meds to help me. I just try to use what I feel I can do to the best of my ability. I think the advice everyone is offering you is all worthy of consideration. For me, it was trial and error. Replace the bad with something good.
     
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  12. KagamineLen

    KagamineLen Gay and autistic midlife weeb.

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    Thanks for all of the responses.

    I agree that distraction can only go so far - then again, I was using legal Mary Jane as a distraction. It is effective in the short term, but it is ridiculously far from a 24/7 fix.

    My sponsor tells me I need to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin. I see what he is saying, I know he is right - but damn, if solid logic alone could conquer this, it would have been conquered a very long time ago.
     
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  13. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    Get outside your comfort zone a little bit at a time. Keeping a journal of your progress can help.