How to Deal with Self-Stigmatizing Negative Thoughts
Self-stigmatizing negative thoughts can work their way into your mind when you live with a mental illness. Learning how to deal with negative thoughts is one of the biggest learning curves there is. Personally, it's something that I still struggle with, too. When things become still and I'm left with myself, it gets loud in my head. The self-stigmatizing negative thoughts begin to incessantly drum away and it becomes challenging to deal with, but I do have helpful strategies.
Recognizing Self-Stigmatizing Negative Thoughts
Not all negative thoughts are a product of self-stigma, but I think recognizing when they are can be helpful since they have a way of creeping in ("Signs of Self-Stigma: Do You Stigmatize Yourself?"). One of my regular, self-stigmatizing negative thoughts is: If people really knew how broken you are, they would walk away and never come back. It's akin to the kind of stigma that tells us our mental illnesses make us lesser and ultimately unlovable or unworthy. On a logical level, I understand this is not the truth. And yet the thought still lingers — among many others.
The toughest thing about your thoughts is you can't escape them. You can walk away from people stigmatizing you, but you can't walk away from stigmatizing yourself. At least not as easily. Recognizing my negative thoughts as self-stigma is half the battle because even that spark of understand they're not true can make a difference ("Mental Illness Myths and the Damage They Cause")
The other half of the battle is learning how to deal with self-stigmatizing negative thoughts when they arise.
Strategies to Cope with Self-Stigmatizing Negative Thoughts
One thing I ask you to keep in mind is I'm not offering these up as a curative. These are simply things to help get through the moment because sometimes that's all we can ask of ourselves. Sometimes that's the most important part.
These are also things you can try when suggestions such as reaching out to a loved one or helpline are not possible or something you'd like to do. While I always encourage and recommend reaching out, I also know that's not the only option.
Other strategies to cope with self-stigmatizing negative thoughts include:
- Listen to music. When the dark thoughts come, I put in my earbuds and blast my music. Even if it's listening to one song on repeat for hours, music works two-fold for me: it helps drown out the negative thoughts and process the whirlwind of emotions I'm dealing with.
- Write. Writing can be a cathartic act of gettings thoughts out of my head and onto a page, a way to make sense of the thoughts, or something more creative to give me something else to focus on ("Journaling for Mental Health Improvement").
- Watch a movie or show. Regularly turning to escapism isn't good, but sometimes it helps to get out of ourselves. As I mentioned above, we can't walk away from our negative thoughts, but this can help.
- Read a book. Like above, it's a little bit of escapism that can make a world of difference.
As usual, it's about finding what works for you. What I want you to know is that there are things we can do to help ease the struggle of dealing with self-stigmatizing negative thoughts. Use these strategies to get you through those moments and then seek out a greater level of help if you need to.
Barton, L. (2018, October 26). How to Deal with Self-Stigmatizing Negative Thoughts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2018/10/how-to-deal-with-self-stigmatizing-negative-thoughts