Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think

A lifesaver thrown to someone in the depths of depression/anxiety/anger/shame/guilt. Nothing earth shattering but I love the idea of a gratitude journal and writing a letter of forgiveness to people I’m mad at (not to send, including myself).

I also just listened to a quick interview where the author (Padesky) gave 5 strategies from the book:

Balance what you do during the day. We feel better when accomplishing things and experiencing pleasure, but important to get balance right. Could be 3 accomplishments for each pleasure or 1:1, figure out what works for you.

Approach instead of avoid. Don’t linger over your to do list. We don’t enjoy our time off because we’re avoiding tasks. Approach something you want to avoid even in just small steps. If big thing, make a list of what needs to be done and tackle each item.

Gratitude. Weekly gratitude journal boosts happiness. Quality of gratitude counts more than quantity. Go deep instead of long list.

Identify & test negative thoughts. We talk to ourselves all day long, automatic thoughts. Can change a more negative dialog once we realize what we’re saying to ourselves. Catch & correct negative distorted thinking. Reprogram brain.

Acceptance. Just get on with it. Maybe you have a tedious task to do, just accept it and move on.

Positive thoughts are not the solution. Instead you have to consider all the information and many angles of the problem. You can anticipate your reaction and plan for it. The way we think about or assess a situation matters deeply by impacting our mood and behavior. How we understand our problems affects how we cope.

Helpful hints for evaluating the seriousness of the action we just did:

  • Do others find it as serious as I do? Why or why not?
  • What if my best friend did it instead of me? Is it still as serious?
  • How important will this seem in 1 month? 1 year? 5 years?
  • What if someone did it to me?
  • Did I know the consequences ahead of time?
  • Did I do damage? is it correctable?

Questions to id automatic thoughts:

  • What was going through my mind right before it happened?
  • What images/memories do I have that are associated with it?
  • What does this mean about me, my life, my future?
  • What am I afraid might happen?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • What does this mean about how the other person feels or thinks about me?
  • What does this mean about other people in general?
  • Did I break rules or hurt someone? What do I think about myself?