pessimistic expectations ("It won't get any better"), low self-esteem
("I'm a failure"), and hopelessness ("There's nothing I can do"). How
do you stop or limit these depressing thoughts, memories, or
fantasies? Try using thought-stopping, paradoxical intention (massed
practice) or punishment (chapter 4). Or restrict unwanted sad
thoughts to specific times or places, e.g. a "depression" chair; then
reduce the time spent in the chair (see McLean, 1976). Or reward
stopping negative thoughts; replace them with pleasant fantasies
(Tharp, Watson & Kaya, 1974).
Have more positive thoughts. Make an effort to have a lot more
positive thoughts: satisfaction with life ("Living is a wonderful
experience"), self praise ("I am thoughtful--my friends like that"),
optimism ("Things will get better"), self-confidence ("I can handle this
situation"), and respect from others ("They think I should be the
boss"). Even if you don't feel like saying these things every hour, say
them anyway. They will become part of your thinking.
Ask others to model for you how they control depressing thoughts
and guilt producing ideas. What self-instructions do they use to "get
out of a bad mood?" Practice talking to yourself out loud, then silently.
See method #2 in chapters 4 and 11.
Become aware of any payoffs for depression or self-
putdowns. Reduce these reinforcements: don't complain or display
sadness, ask others to ignore your sadness (but interact with you
more during good times). Remember excessive talking about your
depression may sometimes make you more depressed (don't use this
as an excuse for not seeking help).
Act happier. Practice smiling more, speaking in a less whiny
voice, standing up straight with chest out, dressing up more and
expressing compliments, feeling self-satisfaction, and acting as though
the future will be better. Acting happier can change our mood.
Become a better self-helper. Become a better self-helper as you
work on a variety of personal problems (Rehm, 1981). Learning to
master a life--your life--is not easy. Read self-help books. Use the
steps in my chapter 2 to make some self-improvements. Prove to
yourself that you can change your environment, your behavior, your
mood, and so on. Recognize your increased ability...but know your
limitations. Both knowledge of useful psychology and self-confidence
are important. Feeling in control of life is an important part of enjoying
Atonement. Figure out a way to make up to others or to society
for the things you have done wrong (see discussion of guilt above).
Develop marital contracts. Develop marital contracts that
provide each partner with a reward for changing in ways requested by
the mate. See method #16 in chapter 11.