People with depressionA disorder of mood which usually involves feeling 'flat' or sad; disturbed sleep; poor concentration; loss of interest in sex, eating, or other enjoyable activities; irritability; aches and pains; avoidance of social contact; and possibly suicidal thoughts. and anxietyAn extended period of worry or nervousness that's hard to control - can involve poor sleep and difficulty concentrating, as well as feeling restless, tired, and irritable. tend to interpret situations negatively. This way of thinking can become a pattern that makes people feel worse and can also bring on cravings to use meth.
Do you have any of the following unhelpful thought patterns?
Are you a ‘black and white thinker’?
- Are things in your life either all good or all bad with no shades of grey?
- Do you think that because something has gone wrong once, it will go wrong every time?
- Do you have strict rules about yourself and your life? For example, do you think that in order to be good at something, you must do it perfectly every time?
- If things don’t work out exactly as you'd planned, do you feel hopeless, as if you’ve failed? ‘Well, I stuffed that bit up, so the whole thing is useless now'. ‘I never get what I want so it’s stupid to want anything at all’.
- Have you ever thought: ‘I used meth once this week, I’m a total failure so why bother trying?’ or ‘I can’t change, it’s pointless trying’.
- Do you believe that in order to be a good person, everybody must like you all the time?
- Do you ever think ‘I’m a terrible person – there’s nothing good about me'?
Do you ‘jump to negative conclusions’?
- Do you usually interpret situations negatively, even when a positive explanation is just as likely?
- Do you sometimes act like a ‘mind reader’? That is, do you think you can tell what another person is thinking without asking, and act as if your mind reading were fact?
- Do you 'tell fortunes'? That is, do you believe that things will turn out badly most of the time? ‘There’s no use trying because I won’t be able to do it anyway’.
- Do you ever think ‘I’ll never be able to stop using meth’?
Do you ‘catastophise’?
- Do you tend to make a mountain out of a molehill?
- Do you convince yourself that if something goes wrong it will be intolerable? ‘If I get a craving, I won’t be able to control myself’, 'If I don't have some meth, I'll die'.
- If you have a disagreement with someone, do you think: ‘that person will never talk to me again’?
- If one thing goes wrong do you think that your whole life is a mess?
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking “what if…?” and imagining terrible consequences?
Are you a ‘personaliser’?
- Do you blame yourself for anything bad that happens?
- Do you take a lot of responsibility for other people’s feelings and actions, and often confuse feelings with facts? ‘My partner’s in a bad mood, I must have done something wrong or ‘I feel stupid, so I am stupid’.
- Do you often put yourself down? ‘I’m weak, stupid, and ugly’; ‘I’m an idiot’; ‘I’m a loser’; ‘I’m pathetic and hopeless’.
Are you a ‘should/ought’ thinker?
- Do you often use the words ‘should', ‘ought’ and 'must'? This thinking tends to make you feel guilty when you don’t do the things you ‘should’.
- Do you set unrealistic expectations for yourself or other people? ‘I shouldn’t get angry’, ‘He should always be on time’, ‘She should understand me by now’, ‘I should be a better partner/ parent/ student/ son/ daughter/ friend’.
- Do you find yourself getting frustrated or angry with people when they don’t do what you think they ‘should’?
Managing unhelpful patterns of thinking
You can manage and overcome unhelpful thinking patterns by following a few simple steps.
1. Spot your unhelpful thought
Any of the following could let you know you’ve just had an unhelpful thought:
Feeling tense, irritable or angry
Feeling sad, hopeless or depressed
Having a craving for meth
2. Check your response
Ask yourself: ‘Have I just had an unhelpful thought?’
The answer is most likely ‘yes’.
3. Distance yourself from the thought and see it for what it is
When you recognise an unhelpful thought, STOP yourself and consciously step out of automatic pilot. Remind yourself that ‘thoughts are just thoughts that come and go. Thoughts are not facts, they are not real, and I am not my thoughts.'
4. Label the thought
Ask yourself: ‘Which type of unhelpful thought did I just have?’
Label your thoughts as ‘catastrophising’, ‘personalising’, ‘jumping to negative conclusions’, ‘black/white thinking’ or ‘shoulds/oughts’.
When you separate yourself from the thought and give it a label, it’s amazing how quickly it loses its power over you.
5. Give yourself a reality check
Ask yourself: ‘What are the facts? Is this 100% true? Do these thoughts fit with the facts as I understand them?'
The answer is most likely ‘no’.
6. Allow yourself to think differently
Ask yourself: ‘If I take these facts into account, how else could I interpret this situation? Is the alternative explanation just as likely to be true? Does the alternative explanation make me feel better?'
The answer is most likely ‘yes’.