This week in therapy, my therapist said something that really stuck with me. She told me, “You have dominion over your own thoughts and actions.”
We were talking about negative thinking and intrusive thoughts, specifically in reference to one particular incident that happened a few months ago. In the past, I’ve talked about separating what your mental illness is saying from what your brain is saying, but hearing it laid out so concisely was really groundbreaking for me. It made me actually believe it.
As someone living with bipolar disorder and struggling specifically with bipolar depression, I can have a hard time differentiating what thoughts are the truth and what thoughts are lies my mental illness is telling me.
That’s what I’m working on this week. Whenever I start to feel anxious, I’m practicing looking at my thoughts from an outside perspective so I can better understand where they’re coming from and whether they’re my own or my mental illness’s. Separating these thoughts is not easy. It takes practice, and it takes a great deal of self-awareness, but I’m working on it.
A tip we talked about in therapy is picturing thoughts as clouds. Imagine you’re standing in a window watching your thoughts pass by as clouds. From the window, you can see what the thoughts are. Some of them are pretty and fluffy, and some of them might look like they’re carrying a big storm. Using this technique helps me see where the thoughts started and let them pass by without interfering too much with my life. I’m the one in control here, and I get to choose which thoughts to believe.
This strategy may not work for everyone. If you’re interested in exploring intrusive thoughts and negative thinking, try out a few different techniques. Talk it over with your therapist if you see one (which I can’t recommend enough!) I’m learning so much about my own worldview and my perception of myself, too, and it feels so freeing to finally believe that my thoughts are my own to control.
As always, stay safe + stay healthy.