I’m sorry if this is a stupid question, but it’s gotten pretty bad… whenever I have a moment to think— usually when I’m laying down for bed— my mind defaults to thinking up every single reason I’m a terrible awful failure who doesn’t deserve to exist, and it ends up causing a sort of feedback loop that magnifies those feelings a hundredfold. Do you know anyone who does something similar or might have some advice for breaking the cycle? TIA.
realsocialskils answered:
This isn’t a stupid question. It’s a hard situation to be in, and you’re definitely not the only one.
For me, it helps to have some TV episodes of a show I’ve seen before and like playing in the background when I’m going to sleep. That way, I don’t have totally blank space available to be filled with that kind of thinking.
I also have friends who can help me remember that I don’t actually suck when I’m feeling that way. And at this point, I’ve had that conversation with them enough times that sometimes I can think through what they’d say when I’m in that state of mind.
Some people like things like Calming Manatee, or other cute animal with a positive message sites. That doesn’t work for me, but it does work for a number of people I know.
There are probably better things to do that I don’t know about. Do any of y’all have suggestions?

occasionalfunction said:

It helps to come up with set responses to those thoughts that directly contradict them.

for examples:

“I am a terrible person.” > “I am a good person.”

“I’m a failure.” > “There are plenty of things that I am good at, even if I’m not good at these ones.” or “I’m alive and putting forth my best effort, so I am successful.”

“I don’t deserve to exist.” > “I deserve to be here just as much as everyone else, and nobody, even me, can decide otherwise.”

When those thoughts come up, say the responses. Say them even if you don’t believe them. Don’t let negative thoughts go unanswered, because then they hang around and multiply. Tell yourself the opposite and contradict them, because it breaks the stream of negativity.

realsocialskills said:

Has this worked for any of y’all?

seatentsina said:

I just wanted to say that sometimes strategies like those make the ruminations worse. I have BPD (and am otherwise allistic) and when I try to counteract negative thinking like that, telling myself that I am a good person, I am smart, etc, my brain automatically kicks into saying, “well, no, that’s certainly not true, let’s gather more evidence to prove why you’re terrible/stupid/mean/etc.” That’s why some tumblr memes like Calming Manatee and text posts saying “friendly reminder that you’re beautiful and intelligent!” can be more harmful than helpful for me.

When I get into those kinds of thought cycles, what helps me is having tangible evidence I can refer to that can make me feel good about myself. If I’m feeling like I’m stupid, maybe I’ll reread a paper that I got a good grade on. If I feel like I’m a bad friend or mean to people, I’ll search for an email/text log where maybe I helped out someone, or someone complimented me. It’s so much easier to refute this kind of negative thinking when you have something substantial you can refer to, but I realize that it can be really hard sometimes to figure out what to refer to. Sometimes asking someone you trust to tell you why they like you or whatever can help too. This doesn’t always work, but neither does distraction, every time… 

Otherwise, mindfulness exercises can also be helpful. This is something I learned from DBT. When you’re having those thoughts, just acknowledge it and “let it go.” It helps to imagine your thoughts as maybe objects going by on a conveyor belt, or leaves floating down a creek. The objective is to not judge your thoughts, or minimize your emotional reaction to them. This is very hard though and certainly something that needs a lot of practice to be able to do well. 

As with all coping strategies, your mileage may vary, but I wanted to offer this because I’m someone for whom the usual recommendations like Calming Manatee etc usually make me feel worse. But I hope this helps!