Everyone, at least one time in his or her life, gets knocked down, and most of us have trouble getting back up. Let’s face it – we all get depressed at times. Sometimes we get stuck in a funk and we don’t know how to get out of it, especially if we’re constantly being knocked down. Eventually, we don’t even want to get up anymore. Why should we get back up, just to get knocked down again?
That’s when we have to catch ourselves and be conscious of our thoughts. What does being self-aware have to do with getting back on our feet, you ask? Just about everything.
Most of us aren’t really aware of our thoughts. If we would pay attention to the thoughts going through our heads, we would notice that more than half of them are negative: towards others and ourselves. We’re our own best critic. From when we wake up in the morning until we go to bed, we constantly put ourselves down and pick on ourselves.
The most common thing we do is victimize. Sounds like some therapeutic technical term? It is. There is a popular therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT for short. Suppose you failed a test. Along with this situation comes either a feeling, thought, physical reaction, behavior, or perhaps all four. You failed the test so you feel sad, maybe angry or frustrated. You’ll probably be thinking, “I’m stupid” or “I could have done better.” Maybe you’ll cry, or scream. And then your behavior will be probably to give up and not try on the next test since you failed this one. That’s the gist of CBT. Situations trigger the four reactions and each of these four lead to each other until it’s a vicious cycle of thoughts and feelings and behaviors and a whole big jumble.
So you see, the way we think has a huge effect on pretty much everything. Like it says, “A person is where his or her thoughts are.”
Now, how can we change that entire situation?
You failed the test. You feel bad and upset and you start picking on yourself. Wait – STOP.
Seriously, picture a stop sign and yell out to your racing thoughts to hold up and slow down. Now that your thoughts are frozen, think about what you were just doing. You were victimizing.
Let’s talk about a victim versus a survivor.
Isn’t it interesting how they could both mean the same thing but totally different things at the same time? “She’s a victim of the war.” “She survived the war.” They both went through a war. They both got out of it. But one’s a victim, and one’s a survivor. Why is that? What makes one a victim and the other a survivor? It’s their thoughts, the way they think which changes the way they hold themselves and creates who they are.
The victim thinks “Why me?” She spends the war and post-war angry and sad – which is totally normal, but the victim lives in her anger and sadness. It becomes her; it’s who she is.
The survivor has a totally different way of thinking. Sure, she gets angry, sad, and depressed. But it’s different with the survivor. Instead of thinking, “Why me?” she thinks, “This happened to me, and it’s difficult and awful and it just plain sucks. But I can get through this; the war will be over soon.” She doesn’t live the war. The war hasn’t taken her over and controlled her. She hasn’t become a victim, she’s a survivor.
How do we become survivors? Let’s be more self-aware. In every situation stop yourself, and be aware of your thoughts. Are you in victim mode or survival mode? Is this never going to end or is it long but over soon? Notice how different the positive thoughts are, and how different and happier we are because of them. It’s all about thinking positively, being a survivor, taking those victim thoughts and dumping them in the trash. Sounds cheesy? It is. But it works.
The only way to pick ourselves up again is to change our thoughts. We have to train ourselves to slow those thoughts down so we can interrupt them and turn them into positive thoughts.
Believe me, once you’re in survivor mode, your whole life changes. It’s almost exciting, like you’re a brave soldier battling through wars and winning. You’re a survivor, rather than a sad lonely victim who had to fight the war.
So think those survivor thoughts. Make a list of them. Write them down, memorize them, and live them. And then that’s who you’ll be: a survivor.
The above article was originally posted on Maidelle.com, an online magazine for Jewish teen girls to speak their mind. Check out the site and read more articles and poetry submitted by girls worldwide who made the choice to use their voice.