Kill the spiral: Block your thoughts

Changing behavior begins with changing your thoughts.

We all get caught in negative thought spirals at times and it can be very hard to get out of them. Left to run too long, they take us into depression.

Early in my career, I was my own worst enemy. I made a lot of mistakes and commonly told myself that I was a complete idiot and stupid. Not only that, I would revisit those memories and clobber myself all over again. This creates a significant drag on self-esteem and performance when under stress.

I’ve learned a few things over the years. I know when a black hole is brewing in my brain. With the hope that it will help you, this is what I tell myself to block the spiral from continuing:

In the middle of something difficult:

  • This is temporary.
  • This will end.
  • This is not real – it didn’t happen and won’t happen (when ruminating on the worst possible outcomes).
  • Lots of other people have been in this situation and come through.
  • I still have friends/family that love me.
  • This is really hard but I’ve done harder.
  • The weekend always arrives on time!
  • The ultimate goal is… Keep your eyes on the prize!
  • I’ve accomplished something like this before…
  • If you can’t breathe you can’t work. Stop and breathe.
  • Write it down and put it aside. I will revisit it later.

Looking back on failure:

  • This does not define me.
  • Others have failed, too. The best get up and keep going and that’s what I’m doing.
  • The pain ended a while ago. The lesson was already learned. I don’t need to go there again. 
  • I’ve changed – that’s not who I am anymore.
  • Why am I here again? I have so many other positive events to think about…

We all get down from time to time and there isn’t always someone else around to distract us or shake us out of negative space. Hopefully, these tips come in handy. Post them somewhere!

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff Skipper