For some, this quote is about choosing to make decisions based on your head or your heart, and breaking out of your comfort zone. For me right now, it’s about the battle going on when I’m in a period of emotional darkness. After it’s over, I have a hard time making sense of it in my head. I often don’t understand why I was feeling that way, why I couldn’t motivate myself or pull myself out of it… but the feeling when you’re inside it is so much different than what your rational mind is telling you. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. It distorts your thinking and takes over your body. That’s what depression does. Sometimes I even feel that way when I’m in it. I frustrate myself because deep down, I know that the thoughts flowing through brain aren’t true. They’re mean and negative and hopeless. I know that they’re distorted, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get through, that I don’t feel them. The worst battle is between what you know and how you feel.
Game Plan: Dr. Burns talks a lot about cognitive distortions in Feeling Good, and I really recommend reading chapter 3 for an eye-opening look at how the thoughts that you have impact the way that you feel. The first step is in recognizing that they are distortions (all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, magnification or minimization), and then you can work at overcoming them. The best practice is in writing them down so that they’re in front of you and not just swirling around in your head. Record those automatic thoughts (I never do anything right, I’m self-centered and thoughtless), and then substitute them with a rational response (I do a lot of things right; I may be thoughtless at times, but I can also be quite thoughtful and it is something I can work on.) The hope is that you will be able to catch those automatic thoughts when they happen and replace them with a rational response.