When you’re emotionally stuck in a bad place, it can be hard to even imagine loving yourself. Depression, darkness, and despair often feel like a hole you can’t climb out of. Many years ago, my depression was so awful, I wanted my life to be over and occasionally imagined a semi-truck taking me out on the highway so I could be free from the pain that felt like it was destroying me inside.Many years ago, my depression was so awful, I wanted my life to be over and occasionally imagined a semi-truck taking me out on the highway so I could be free from the pain inside of myself. Click To Tweet
While I am very grateful that never actually happened, I learned that I was not alone with such thoughts when I interviewed Dr. Riva Robinson, who is a functional medicine physician and champion bodybuilder. Though our traumatic histories were somewhat different, we suffered a similar kind of response to them for many years.
Beating Up Ourselves
Anyone who looked at us from the outside would likely not guess what was going on in our hearts and our minds:
- We didn’t love ourselves.
- We beat up ourselves—a lot.
- We allowed the hurt from others to control our emotions.
- We masked our pain and insecurities with achievement and perfectionism.
Now don’t misunderstand me—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being motivated and wanting to do things really well. But let me ask you this:
If you fail at an important objective or goal, which way do you respond—A or B?
- You feel humiliated or defeated, and then you make it worse by saying unkind things to yourself–words that you would never say to a friend.
- You get up after the fall, recognize what went wrong and what you learned from the experience, acknowledge your disappointment, and then move on.
My guess is that many people would answer “A”. Why? Because I have been there. Dr. Robinson has been there, and so have millions of other people with traumatic histories that ultimately manifested as negative and toxic thoughts about themselves.
5 Ways to Help Manage Toxic Thoughts
When you feel sad or bad inside, you’re vulnerable to being your own worst critic, which of course does not help you in any way. But there are ways to stop the cycle of toxic thoughts that can rule your mind and lead to those dark despairing feelings at times.
Here are 5 things you can do to diminish toxic thinking:
- When certain thoughts get stuck in your head, write them out in a journal. Be honest with yourself about how you feel—these are your private thoughts. And when those thoughts come back again—it takes a while until they lose their power—get out your journal and write some more.
- Make sure you are feeding your body and brain with healthy food. It’s especially important to eat a diet that suits your brain type to help you feel more balanced. If you don’t already know your brain type, you can learn what it is by taking our 5-minute Brain Health Assessment here. Comfort food is not likely helping, so definitely stay away from sugary foods. The spikes and dips in your blood sugar can make you feel worse.
- Get the support of a psychotherapist to work through your past and address the traumatic or painful thoughts that keep popping up in your mind. I found that EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, was very helpful in my recovery from trauma.
- Engage in some form of exercise regularly. I can’t say enough good things about how physical movement helps us on so many levels. Not only can it reduce stress while elevating brain chemicals that help us feel better, but the focus and time spent doing it can also help give you greater clarity about your thoughts and feelings.
- When we feel better, we tend to do better, so consider trying nutraceuticals that help promote a more positive mood, such as BrainMD’s Happy Saffron Plus. It’s possible that some people may need the stronger support of medication, so if that’s the case, making an appointment with a psychiatrist for a full brain evaluation will likely be very helpful.
Each thing you do to work through and manage toxic thoughts helps your mind become more disciplined so they don’t continue to control you!
Check out more of my Relentless Courage interviews on my YouTube channel and order my new memoir, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer. To help calm stress and promote more positive moods, try some of the supplements and other high-quality products at BrainMD. Want 21% off? Enter TANA21 at checkout. It’s that easy!
And if you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 844-818-0616 or visit our contact page here.