When things go badly, the hurt is normally so acute that it's easy to just focus on the badness and let it become your whole world.  However, one way to take a bad situation and make it worse is to start telling yourself that things are going to be bad FOREVER.

Nothing lasts forever.

Don't let your homunculus trick you, though.  Most of the little annoying things that happen in life are not forever type events.  Just because your significant other yelled at you, doesn't mean they'll be yelling at you forever.  Just because you didn't get that job offer doesn't mean you'll be unemployed forever. Yes, it can be easy to worry that things will not get better, but they probably will get better eventually.  And, if you stop dwelling on the possibility that things won't get better, things might get better faster.

Yesterday, we discussed one way to deal with a negative homunculus: ignore your homunculus.  However, a more powerful approach to dealing with negative, automatic thoughts is to argue them directly.  


Task: Argue automatic thinking that a bad event will be permanent.

Info: For this task, you can either recall a bad event or listen to your automatic thinking during a fresh annoyance.  Argue any thoughts that creep in that make the bad thing seem permanent.  Very few bad things that happen day-to-day are really permanent, but try not to pick something that is really serious for this task.  Pick something that is moderately stressful and try to convince yourself that the bad situation is temporary.  I'll give an example that I can relate to: a rough day at work.  After a particularly frustrating day, I could either conclude "That's it.  Work just stinks, every day from here on out is going to be like this"; or, "Tomorrow's another day.  Sometimes, bad days just happen."  The first reaction accomplishes nothing and makes me sad.  The second approach makes me happy and more willing to keep working hard.  Pick a situation that you can relate to.    

Goal: Convince yourself that the causes of a bad event are temporary.

People who frequently think of bad events as having permanent effects are more likely to be pessimistic and more likely to get depressed.  Want to learn more about the thinking-styles that contribute to depression?  Check out Learned Optimism.

Links: Return to the Week of Optimism - Continue to the next Daily Mind Game

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