When you're in a lower mood it can be challenging to remember that just because you think something doesn't mean it's actually a fact.
When you're in a low mood the problem is you're looking at events around you, seeing them through the lens of a low mood, then interpreting them more negatively than you normally would. This negative interpretation leads to a lower and lower mood. A bad cycle.
If you step back and think about it, your thoughts are nothing more than words just floating around in your mind.
"Oh, there goes a thought about what I had for lunch. And there's a thought about something I have to do this weekend."
These thoughts are nothing more than a bunch of words. By themselves they're not a big deal. However, the problem arises when these thoughts are distorted from reality and you believe what these thoughts are saying. This leads to a lower mood.
As a simple example, imagine a photo of yourself you see from time to time. Sometimes when you look at that photo the words may come to mind, "Wow, I look great!" Other times you may look at that exact same photo and other words come to mind like, "Oh no, I look terrible in that picture!" Think about it - the photo itself hasn't changed at all. The only thing that changed was your thoughts about it.
So the next time you're feeling low and negative thoughts are whirling around your head, try to remind yourself that just because you think something doesn't mean it's a fact. Give it some time - your view of things will likely change.
And if you want to even take it further you can try to dispute these thoughts using techniques borrowed from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You can dispute these thoughts be asking yourself if your thoughts fall into certain distorted patterns like:
• Overgeneralizing - you think of things in terms of being always or never, which of course the world rarely is one or the other.
• Mental filtering - you selectively ignore positive information that contradicts your negative views.
• All or Nothing Thinking - you think in terms of black or white (good or bad). Your thinking allows for no middle ground.
• Personalizing - you think that something happened because it was specifically you vs it being something that could have happened to anyone.
• Catastrophizing - you overemphasize the chances of a disaster as a result of the situation.
• Mind Reading - you assume that you know what other people are thinking or feeling without actually really knowing. (Even a crystal ball won't let you do this.)
• Fortune Telling - you believe you know specifically what the events of the future will be even though no one really does.
The key is to recognize that your thinking is negative and to then to remind yourself that "just because you think it doesn't mean it's a fact!"