The article and podcast below describe difficult thoughts that you "need out of your mind." As I have worked as a counselor, I have come across clients who would like to "get rid" of painful thoughts. They include thoughts like life will never get better, what others think about me is right, life can't change, I should never have done that, and life is supposed to be easy. While these are all thoughts that can work against your mental health and well being, it is simplistic to say you can "push them out of your mind." If I tell you to stop thinking about ice cream, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? I bet it wasn't monkeys...but you might be thinking about monkeys now. The mind is a funny thing; thoughts come and go through our mind, many times without our conscious effort.
One form of therapy that addresses these concerns is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT. In this form of counseling, the goal is not to stop thoughts, but to become less fused with those thoughts. The concept is that thoughts aren't the problem, it is how we incorporate those thoughts into our consciousness and behavior that becomes the problem. For instance, the thought "I'm worthless and no one can truly love me" isn't a problem if it pops in the head of someone who acknowledges it as a passing thought that isn't true and doesn't let it affect the way they interact with others. However, that same thought can become a devastating burden to someone who fuses it with their self image, believes to the core they are worthless and unlovable, and who then changes the way they interact with others because of that worthless feeling.
ACT involves using mindfulness, or becoming aware and grounded in the moment, setting or discovering our core values in life, diffusing ourselves from thoughts that are contrary to those values, and taking committed action towards our values. I think there is great value in the following article in identifying hurtful thoughts in our lives. I encourage you to listen to or read it, but then look to see if you have these or similar thoughts in your life that you struggle with. Are you fused with those thoughts, believing them to be true, and if so, are they helping or hurting your in your achievement of your values in life and in who you want to be as a person? Rather than just trying to push those thoughts out of your mind, analyze them, make room for them, read the thoughts like you would a newspaper article, and decide if you want to incorporate them into your life and act on them, or throw them aside as they come to mind. It doesn't mean those thoughts will go away, it just means you won't let them dictate who you are.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/09/26/9-thoughts-you-need-out-of-your-mind from Marc and Angel
I see it all.
I see the anxiety and the tremors that men and women have when they see me for the first time. I see their foot bouncing as they sit on the sofas that fill my space and the chairs that line my soft, grey walls. Most people don't know that I see it all. They don't even acknowledge that I'm there. I get it, though. I understand they have more important things on their mind, like wondering what their therapist is like and what questions they are going to ask. I understand that it takes a lot of courage and bravery to make the appointment with my owners, let alone walking through the big wooden door that separates me from something new.
I see them in the beginning--when their life feels like it couldn't get worse. I see the children, who may come from broken homes and have difficulty expressing their emotions. Or when they do express them, they come out in non-socially acceptable ways, like tantrums or numerous tears or exploding at school. I see the couple who aren't talking and are looking at their phones, both wondering if they can fix their marriage.
I see it.
And then I see the miracles.
I see the smiles on their faces as they leave me for the last time. I see the couple who is no longer separated sneak a kiss on their way out the big wooden door. I see the children bobbing their heads along to the music, and I see it. I see the recovery.
You see, most people think I'm just a room. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. I'm a room that holds both the hurt and the happiness. The beginnings of therapy and the beginnings of healing. The ending of a therapeutic relationship and the endings of hurt. The middles and the in-betweens and all the other stages.
I'm the waiting room.
Are you feeling depressed and wondering what the best course of treatment is? Depression can be very confusing and there are several options out there for treatment. Part of the difficulty is understanding what even causes depression. Is it hereditary, is it biological, or is it based on experiences? The truth is that is can be any and all of these causes, and so it can be treated through a variety of methods. Research shows that the best results come from treating depression through both medication and therapy.
Benefits of Both Methods
Because of the multiple reasons for depression, a single form of treatment doesn’t have as high of a rate of recovery as both treatments together. For instance, if you only choose to use medication, you might start feeling better to a point, but then life happens and you might find yourself in an overwhelming situation without the coping skills to help prevent it from spiraling into severe depression. Also, you might only pursue therapy and find that coping skills and processing difficult thoughts and emotions help to a point, but the chemical imbalance might still need medications to get fully back to feeling yourself. I have seen individuals who have built coping skills and made positive adjustments in their life but when they aren't taking the proper medication will uncontrollably cry and withdraw from loved ones.
What If I Don't Want to Take Medication?
It is entirely your decision how you choose to treat your depression, and there are many people who are apprehensive about medications. I don't think medical treatment is for everyone with depression. There is situational depression which occurs when something significant happens in your life, like getting laid off, relocating, children leaving the household, and divorce. If you haven't experienced severe depression in the past and a situation causes you depression then you can likely treat it through therapy alone. Also, if the depression is at a level that you can manage it mostly through coping skills, then you might not need medication. However, if you find that you are constantly in a state of depression and have difficulty pinpointing the causes, then medication might aid in your treatment along with therapy.
James McMillian, MA, LCPC, NCC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS