A question regarding negativity in life was recently posed to me: “How can one prevent negative thoughts when there is nothing positive going in his/her life?” This question came from one of my blog followers who has been through a lot and struggles with depression and anxiety. It’s a powerful and complicated question.
I think the answer is different for everyone and individual life experiences certainly shape how it is for any one person in particular. For me, it seems like my life has been one trauma or conflict after another since I was 6 years old: incest, teen pregnancy, problems with motherhood, estrangement, death. I’m not in a perfect place in my life right now but I think I am in a good place, even though I still struggle with many things, especially anxieties and second-guessing certain aspects of my life. This question made me reflect back on how I got to where I am now – how did/do I prevent negative thoughts when I have been hurt so much? But after reflection, the truth is – I don’t. I can’t prevent it – it is a part of who I am now unfortunately. Life and the people in it have created a deep recess of my brain that automatically goes to a negative place. What I can do, what I have mostly been able to do (sometimes successfully, sometimes not), is learn to recognize and deal with those thoughts in better ways.
Negative thoughts are a dangerous thing. They can lead to depression and self-harm. I have been suicidal twice in my life – once due to the side-effects of an anti-depressant that my mother wanted me on and the other when just too much had happened, too many people had hurt me and my life seemed empty and without purpose. That was 2 years ago and it was the lowest point in my life – the scariest point in my life. I posted a blog about how I came out if it (see post: Stepping Back from Suicide’s Edge). I had reached out for help but the people I reached out to ignored my pleas. Somehow, I found the strength within me to pull myself out. Two things kept me from harming myself – my love for my husband and not wanting to put him through the pain of losing me, and a deep desire to not let the events of my life and the bad people in it win. I refused to let them get me!
So, how do I prevent negative thoughts when there is nothing positive going in my life? I say “screw them and the world” and make my own life! I don’t know where this strength came from; I think I have maybe always had it in me and just finally found it. Believe it or not, going through so much pain and turmoil does build strength as you survive it, even if you can’t see it yet. I guess I also found a certain acceptance – as a child I thought I was special, that I would grow up and do it all, change the world a little, be successful. Well, I didn’t do those things and I have spent much time blaming the things in my life for that. I know I can’t blame anyone or anything for my failures but I do believe that the things that happened to me, especially when young, did influence me and the decisions I have made, so I think a little blame is actually fair. In knowing that, I have finally come to a place where I have accepted that my life isn’t grand, isn’t anything close to anything I dreamed of as a child. No one is going to change it for me – it’s up to me! Acceptance is a big thing – this is the life I have been given and it’s up to me to make the most of it – once you have that, you can start to move forward. Do things that make you happy, even if they’re small – hobbies, travel, being out in nature, writing – those things help make me me again. I will be damned if I let them win! So much of my life was taken from me by others and I just refuse to let them take any more. I guess you could say that I have taken my power back. Or that I finally found my power.
And so, I am at a good place now. I will not lie – I still have negative thoughts, much of the time and I still hurt if I let my memories take over. Like I said – that will always be with me, a part of me. But I distanced myself from the negativity in my life (my family) and I try to change the things I can. Having my blog and seeing that others are experiencing the same things I am, knowing I am not alone, definitely helps. I would never tell anyone to “just be positive” – I hate that crap! What I will say is take your life back and make it yours. The stronger you get, the less it affects you when something negative happens. Sometimes I even laugh now rather than get hurt by something. It’s like – okay, bring it on! I have a different mindset now.
I don’t know if this post has helped or hurt the person who asked the question – I hope it helps. Just know that I have been where you are and I so completely understand. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!