I’d like to talk about a great strategy to deal with depression and I call it RTR, loosely translated as Repetitive Thought Rewire.
Depression can trigger terrible isolation and loneliness in us, yet there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who suffer with depression, so in reality, you are definitely not alone.
According to the WHO(World Health Organisation), more than 264 million people around the world of all ages suffer from depression. My guess is, the numbers are alot higher.
What is depression?
So what is depression? It’s described as a black cloud. I believe Winston Churchill referred to it as “The Black Dog”.
Others describe it as a feeling of darkness, a feeling of mental exhaustion; you feel empty, you feel hopeless. You might feel numb. You might feel regret, deep regret at how your life has turned out.
Many sufferers of depression also feel tremendous anxiety, stress and anger, where it’s common to feel that life is “against you”, or “has it in for you”. There’s a big debate as to whether depression is a chemical imbalance, or a result of life’s circumstances. I feel both play their part and will depend on the individual.
Possible causes of depression:
- Loss of a loved one or pet
- Job loss
- Relationship breakdown
- Health issues
- Money worries
- Family environment
- Social issues
- Growing up-school/college
One of the biggest challenges we have as a human race and it’s so common to feel this, it’s that feeling of deep regret. Why didn’t I take that job, why didn’t I work at that relationship? Why did I mess up my life?
Why am I in a miserable job I hate? Why didn’t I go for my dreams? Why was I not nicer to my parents? Why did my relationships fall apart? What if I would have taken a different road in life?
It’s a tough road
You know as a human society, we have so much to deal with. We have so many challenges in life. Life is hard. Life is challenging. Extremely challenging.
So what do we do? Some look to YouTube, a podcast, books or music to lift themselves, whilst others can only find solace in drugs, smoking or alcohol. We need to ease the pain, to reduce the suffering.
The suffering ends now!
Bottom line, we don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to be depressed, we don’t want be anxious, we don’t want be miserable, we don’t want to be frustrated. We want to live the best life that we can. We want to be free from pain and suffering.
The strategy-Repetitive Thought Rewire
Ok so let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this strategy. RTR is a game changer and I believe that it can really help with how you perceive things in your every day life. So what is RTR?
Well working on the premise that when we suffer with depression, it would be safe to say that we are pretty much plagued with negative thoughts all day long. The basic idea of RTR is that you can’t control the first negative thought that comes into your head, but you can the second.
When I first heard this, it had such an impact on me. Let me say it again. You can’t control the first negative thought that comes into your head, but you can the second!!
Perception change is key
In practical terms, RTR is when we actively replace every single negative thought with a positive thought. Essentially, most of our thoughts reflect our perceptions towards things, so in essence, you are consistently changing your perceptions throughout the day.
So even though we can feel powerless over the first thought, we can actually create a sense of control over the second and as a result, eventually free ourselves from constant negative thinking.
The meat and potatoes!
I feel the best way that I can explain what RTR is is to give you some examples of how it can be used, starting with something that would would deem to be at the bottom of the ladder of depressive thoughts, the weather.
Bear with me on this and I promise we’ll progress on to deeper material, I just wanted to start off with something easy.
Let’s say you take a look outside and it’s raining. For most of us, our first thought would be something like “oh no how depressing it’s raining“. So using the principle, I can’t change the first thought but I can change the second, you would then introduce a new thought.
In this case, your new thought could be “oh look, how nice that it’s raining. I love the sound of the rain and how nice that the flowers, grass and trees will get some well-deserved water”.
Another example. Perhaps you’re about to go for a job interview and your first thought is “I’m not good enough for this job, I’m going to flunk the interview and I won’t be offered the position.
After having that thought, immediately introduce another thought, something like “I trust in my abilities, I am proud of my achievements in the past, I value myself and I believe I have a good chance of getting this job“.
Another example of how this works. I hate my job, I feel unfulfilled and I can’t see a way out.
Your next thought could be “I believe in myself, I can do anything I set my mind to and I will go all out to find a job that I enjoy“.
Another one might be: “I can’t meet the right person and I’m going to be lonely for the rest of my life”.
Your next thought could be: “the right partner will come along one day, I just haven’t met them yet. I am a great person and I have a lot to offer and one day, someone will value me and appreciate me for who I am.”
Let’s have another. You lose a loved one and this person was the world to you and you feel devastated and empty. Your grief is insurmountable. Now grief is a crushing emotion and absolutely knocks you for six, but one common thought to have is “I’ll never get over the loss of this person, I’ll never stop grieving”.
You can introduce another thought such as “time does heal, I’m going to allow myself to grieve for as long as I need to and that’s ok. And I will heal”.
Let’s say you go through a divorce or a breakup and lord knows they are soul destroying, incredibly painful and drag your heart and soul through the ringer. One of the most common thoughts to have is that “I’ll never get over this person, or “I’ll never meet anyone like them”.
Now you can challenge that thought and replace it with something like “I will allow myself to grieve over this breakup, for as long as I need to, but there will come a time where I will meet someone else and I will love again”.
Why does this work?
So why is this so powerful? Because this is a strategy where you take control of your thoughts, rather than them taking control of you.
You may have heard of the expressions monkey brain or negative chatter. This is where your mind will consistently think negative thoughts throughout the day, often relentlessly. Why does the mind do this?
You have to constantly challenge the thoughts
Because it has been conditioned to do that. It has got into a pattern of negative thinking. The good news is that you can turn it around. But to make an everlasting change to your thought processes, you need to consistently challenge your negative thoughts.. This is why I call this therapy Repetitive Thought Rewire.
Practice makes perfect
It’s only by constant daily practice, that you will begin to rewire the negative thought patterns into positive ones. At first, it will seem extremely monotonous and probably feel fake, but in a very short time, you should notice a shift in the way that you think and view things.
Like anything, practice makes perfect and the more effort you put in with this, the quicker the results and the bigger the transformation. The mind can be extremely persistent with its negative thinking.
They say that we have between 60 to 80,000 thoughts per day, so it’s no wonder that many of them are negative. The bottom line is you need to ask yourself, “how much do you want to be free of this negative thinking?
Time is now
How much do you want to feel less depressed, less frustrated, less angry, more at ease, more fulfilled, more positive?
In just a few weeks, you could potentially turn your life around drastically, but it’s like anything and the last thing I want to do right now is to sound like some motivation coach, but how long have you suffered?
Let me say that again. How long have you suffered? How much have you suffered? Isn’t it time to start living your life? Isn’t it time to start enjoying life? Isn’t it time to free yourself from the shackles of negative thinking?
Create a new habit
There is only one person that can do it and that is you. Some say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Take three weeks out of your life and just practice this simple tool and your life will change.
But again I have to emphasise, you’ve got to be incredibly disciplined with it and make a conscious effort to be mindful of every negative thought that you think.
Remember this is a “mind” exercise, so you could do it anywhere. On the train, in your office, at the breakfast table. When you wake up and you’re lying in bed and you’re going through incredible anxiety or depression, focus on what you’re thinking about.
Introduce new thoughts. Remember, however bad things are, however much pain you’re going through, you can make this change.
Coaching for depression
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