Noticing the Positives: SHARP Specs
Change those Gloomy Specs!
We all have a particular kind of filter or lens that allows our mind to take more notice of certain types of thoughts or situations. This happens over time, so that we often don't really notice that it's happening.
As our mood descends into depression for instance, we just accept what our mind says about ourselves, about others, about life, about the future.
We don't stop to consider that our minds are responding to the depression - that these thoughts are symptoms of the depression itself, and NOT necessarily true.
DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK!
Many therapists call this a "mental filter", and in the case of depression, we could call it our gloomy specs. It's just like wearing dark tinted glasses - everything our mind sees is dull, bland, negative. When we take off our dark sunglasses, suddenly everything looks a lot brighter. It isn't really brighter - it just looks that way.
It's the same with our own gloomy specs or mental filter. Our mind sees things in a certain way, in a way that fits with our mood or what we deeply believe.
Read more about distorted lenses and the mental crusher in Different Perspectives.
We notice the negative things about ourselves, others, situations - and just dismiss or forget anything else. We sponge the negatives, and sieve the positives or the more ok stuff.
Thoughts are just thoughts: automatic, random, and certainly not necessarily true. More about thoughts here.
We can learn to notice the positives as well as the negatives, even in difficult or painful experiences. Bad things will still happen to us - life does that. But we can train ourselves to be more resilient.
It is easy to forget the positives when they fall straight through the sieve, so we need to learn to notice and remember them.
We need to change to the SHARP specs!
Notice the positives using SHARP Specs
Set some time aside each day to notice the positives - perhaps a few minutes at the same time of day, or set a reminder alarm 3 times during the day to notice the positives.
Hunt down those times that went well, when you said or did something positive, or when something positive happened or was said to you. Don't dismiss things as being too small or insignificant! Sometimes, just smiling or speaking a few words, can have a big impact.
Acknowledge when some things didn't go so well - it's normal to feel sad or disappointed - but ask if you're still using those Gloomy specs! Use your SHARP specs and ask yourself: What did I do ok? What is there about that situation that was ok? What can I learn? What can I do better next time?
Every day, write down at least 3 positive things that happened that day - use a positive data log or positives journal (or app). You could also use a notepad, a file on your computer, or write on coloured pieces of paper and put them in a jar. You can review your written record every week, month or at the end of each year.
It's helpful to read back through your positives diary / journal / photo album / jar, to help realise that good things do happen, and to balance out those negatives. Review your record every week or month - and at the end of each year.
Use Positive Coping Statements to get you through difficult times.