Why You May Be Feeling More Down Than Usual & How to Get Back to Your Normal

The first part of curing anything is acknowledging you have or are feeling some type of way. Next is figuring out what to do to fix it. Becoming intentionally aware of the way you’re thinking is the first step to take if you’re feeling more down than usual. According to the Second Edition of “Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders,” below is a list of what Robert L. Leahy, Stephen J. F. Holland, and Lata K. McGinn, call the “Distorted Automatic Thoughts” you may be suffering from.

1. Mind Reading: Constantly assuming you know what people are thinking.

Tip: If you live your best life, and focus on the good you bring to the world every day, you’ll learn to stop caring about what people may be thinking of you. Focus on being confident in who you are and what you stand for, and your haters thoughts will stop crossing your mind.

2. Fortunetelling: Seeing your future in a negative perspective that always has bad outcomes.

Tip: Remember "Mind over Matter," if you think you’re going to do bad, you’re already setting yourself up to. Instead, erase these negative possibilities from your mind, and focus on the work you need to put in to prevent these negative consequences from happening.

3. Catastrophizing: Always thinking that the outcome of what is currently taking place or what will happen will be unbearable to handle.

Tip: There is nothing in this world that is impossible to overcome, if you truly want to accomplish it. With enough education, preparation, and dedication, any individual can make the best out of what their situation is and achieve what they set their mind, heart, and soul into.

4. Labeling: Identifying yourself and others with negative traits.

Tip: Instead of criticizing, reflect on why you do so. Most people who catch themselves “hating” do so because of reasons they are insecure about. Try to work on improving these things about yourself, and if you can’t, accept them. I’m sure at the end of the day, they are some of the most unique and beautiful parts that make you, you.

5. Discounting Positives: Devaluing the positive situations and accomplishments you or others have around you.

Tip: Make an effort to be proud of yourself and others. Never take for granted the good that happens to you or them.

6. Negative Filtering: Focusing on the negatives more than the positives.

Tip: Remember all the good that you have in your life. Everyone has had rough patches and has made mistakes, but it’s important to take time and appreciate the things in your life that you’re happy to have going for you.

7. Overgeneralizing: Thinking bad things always happen to you based on one single negative incident.

Tip: Don’t allow one negative situation to determine how the rest of your life will go. Take a second to evaluate if this logically even makes sense. Sometimes bad things happen, for better things to come along for you.

8. Dichotomous Thinking: Having an “all-or-nothing” mindset on events or people.

Tip: Just because some events may not work out for you, or some people may not like you, doesn’t mean all the other possible events and people in your future won’t. Try to start on a fresh plate, and focus on all the other potential opportunities you have to meet great people and make incredible memories.

9. Shoulds: Instead of focusing on the way things are, you constantly think about how they should, or should have been.

Tip: Sometimes, “It is what it is.” A lot of times, it’s not anyone’s fault for the way things turn out. And regardless, who are you to decide whether or not it should or shouldn’t have gone a certain way anyways? Just because something doesn’t go your way, doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The actions you take after the event are what determine your character. So yeah, you can sit back and complain all you want, but that’s not going to get you anywhere. Why not get back up, and try again, even if it’s something new. The next thing that works out for you could be the best thing that ever happened.

10. Personalizing: You think everything is your fault.

Tip: Bad things happen all the time, to everyone, and although there are definitely certain situations where some blame can be put more heavily on one person’s actions than others, most of the time it takes at least two. We’re all only human and I believe it’s what you do after the mistake you made that says the most about your character. So stop thinking everything is only your fault, and if it’s mostly yours, own it, and take time to try and make amends with those you may have hurt.

11. Blaming: You think everything that happens to you is someone else’s fault. (Opposite of Personalizing)

Tip: Take time to acknowledge when you made a mistake. Although there are many times where outside factors and people could have interfered and impacted the consequence, it’s important to own what part of it was your fault to learn and grow from it.

12. Unfair Comparisons: Interpreting events in terms of unrealistic standards, resulting in feeling inferior because you believe other people are better than you.

Tip: Stop comparing yourself to other people. Everyone was born with their own gifts and talents. Even though you may feel people are better than you at one thing, doesn’t mean they actually are. You’re also probably better than them at other things they’re not. So instead of comparing yourself, be grateful for all the things you are good at, and focus on giving back to the world by utilizing those gifts in your own way. Put yourself and others in positions to win by doing the things you were gifted to do.

13. Regret Orientation: Overthinking what you could have done better in the past, instead of focusing on what you can improve now.

Tip: Although it’s important to reflect on what we could have done better from previous mistakes, it’s just as important to know where the line is when thinking about that since it can drive you crazy. Think just enough about your mistakes to be able to grow from them in the present moment, but don’t let them hold you back in miserable thoughts. What’s done is done, think about what you can do better now. Life is about growing into the best version of yourself anyways, and you can’t do that without making some mistakes to learn from along the way.

14. "What if" Questioning: Over-analyzing the possibilities of what your future could be and even of what your past could have been if you would had done some things differently.

Tip: Again, focus on the NOW. It’s important to plan and reflect, but don’t overdo it to the point that you’re thinking about things you can no longer control. Aim to accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

15. Emotional Reasoning: Letting your feelings impact the way you see your reality.

Tip: Don’t let your emotions confuse you from what the truth of your reality is. Try to accept things for what they are, and work on them individually. If you try to fix your emotions at the same time as other things going on in your life, you may fall into the trap of thinking one has to do with why the other is not working it. Therefore, take time on both goals separately and you’ll see faster improvement that way.

16. Inability to Disconfirm: Rejecting arguments and evidence given to you that go against your negative thoughts.

Tip: Start accepting the compliments and advice the ones you love are giving you. The people you love only tell you the truth because they care for you. If they didn’t, it’s because they don’t really care all that much. So stop making excuses for why they’re saying the things they’re saying and begin to listen. Whether the advice is good or not, know that you are loved just for the simple fact that they are trying to help you.

17. Judgement Focus: Measuring yourself and others by standards that make you feel good-bad, superior-inferior, instead of just understanding, accepting, and describing the situations and possibilities of yourself and others.

Tip: Focus on all the positive possibilities and accomplishments you and others have made instead of overthinking the negative ones. A real friend and good human being will not solely judge you based on your negative outcomes, but more importantly on the actions you took to make them better after.

 

As soon as you realize you’re overdoing one of these, intentionally practice telling yourself to stop. Take a second to breathe and re-evaluate your thoughts in the great scale of the world. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

 

  1. What evidence do I have for this thought?
  2. Do I know for certain that the bad consequence will happen?
  3. Is there another way of looking at this situation?
  4. Is there another possible explanation or outcome?
  5. How would someone else think about this situation?
  6. Are my judgements based on how I felt rather than what I did?
  7. Am I setting myself up for an unrealistic and unobtainable standard at the moment?
  8. Am I forgetting relevant facts or focusing too much on irrelevant facts?
  9. Is this an example of all-or-nothing or black-and-white thinking?
  10.  Am I overestimating how much control and responsibility I have in this situation?
  11.  What would be the worst thing that could happen?
  12.  If this is true, what does that mean or so what? What would be so bad about that?
  13.  Why can’t something else just as great come from this temporarily negative situation?
  14.  How will things look, seem, or work months from now? Years from now?
  15.  What are the real and probably consequences of this situation?
  16.  Why not focus on how to make the best out of it, and look for other opportunities to make your future better?
  17.  Am I underestimating what I can do to deal with this problem or situation?
  18.  Am I confusing a low-probability event with one of high-probability?
  19.  What is the likelihood that the bad consequences will happen?
  20.  Where is the logic in this thought?
  21.  What are the advantages and disadvantages to thinking this way?
  22.  Is what happened really so important that my entire future resides with its outcome?
  23.  Why not learn and grow from it?
  24.  Why can’t another opportunity possibly be a better outcome for you?

 

If this doesn’t help, make an effort to think about all the things you have that make you happy, all the ones you couldn’t live without, and spend more time on them. A lot of the time, people are unhappy, not because they are overwhelmed, but because they aren’t spending enough time on the things that make them happy to be alive. Another reason people are unhappy is because they live their life in a way they believe fights his or her core fear- for most people, it’s the fear of being incompetent; for others, it’s the fear of being insignificant. Below are other possible core fears you do the things you do:

 

You may be scared of being:

  1. Insufficient
  2. Irrelevant
  3. Unloved
  4. Worthless

 

Whatever it is you’re going through and may be feeling, never hesitate to ask those you love for help, and if you need additional help from a professional, try to talk to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Most colleges offer free counseling services, so why not give that a chance? A wise person knows when to admit they need additional support, so never be ashamed of getting the help you need. You may actually be putting yourself one step closer to the happiness all of us want, but most are too scared to make the right sacrifices for.