One of my tasks as a therapist is to help clients identify and manage the unhelpful, irrational, automatic thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression. Some of these thoughts are easy to identify. Others play in our heads without our being really aware they are there. Even so, those thoughts are powerful and can lead to a lot of misery.
I am often beset with such thoughts myself, and they cause me lots of anxiety. I know exactly where they come from, too. My mother. I picked up from her what I call “We are all going to die in the ditch” thoughts that nag at me with the worry that bad things are just around the corner, and you can never relax or trust that things won’t get worse.
My mom was justified in developing this mentality. Her life was a series of hopes that turned into disasters–she meets the young man will marry, and then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and he goes away and she doesn’t see him again until 1945. Once he is back and they finally get on their feet financially, their apartment is destroyed by a fire. They start a family, and her appendix ruptures at seven months gestation and she loses the child and is in the hospital for months. She gets healthy again and develops MS. After that, things went quite well for her and there were no more disasters, but the salience of those disasters stayed with her and left her assuming the worst and waiting for the next disaster to happen. Her thoughts just oozed into my brain and it is quite a trick to combat them
I listen to the Broadway station on our car radio, and I heard two songs recently that made me realize that there are sources all around us for unhealthy and self-defeating thoughts. I am using YouTube clips so as to avoid any rannygazoo with copyrights. Listen to the lyrics and ponder the unhealthy messages.
Whose voices are in your head? Whose voice would be more helpful?