I’ve always had a keen interest in languages, which led me towards my educational background in Linguistics. One thing you learn about is what’s called a speech community. Loosely explained, it’s a group of people who use a common language.
Having a mental illness of any kind creates niches of communities. Yet, all seem to share language that is hard to ignore, and sometimes gets in the way of treatment: negative self-talk.
I don’t think a day goes by where my cPTSD (or any of my comorbid conditions) have their two-cents to contribute to my inner monologue.
No one will like the true me.
I should be able to deal with this alone.
No one needs me.
I’m too [insert any adjective].
I’m not [insert any adjective] enough.
I can’t trust anyone.
I’ll never get better.
I can’t do anything.
There’s no hope for me.
I deserve(d) this.
I’ll never beat this.
Nothing beats the shit out of one’s self-esteem more than your brain constantly reminding you of your worthlessness. It’s easy to see why my brain taps out every now and again, leaving me to fend for myself.
So, what do you do?
Thoughts are not behavior. Say it with me: thoughts are not behavior.
Think like crap, do something healthy.
I’ll never say to anyone, or myself, to just change the thoughts. That stigma needs to end. Two things happen. You know that purple elephant game? The one where you’re told not to think about the purple elephant? You won’t stop thinking about the elephant. Same goes with intrusive thoughts. My cPTSD brain will latch onto a thought and reflect on it like someone threw gas on a fire. I’ll start having an internal fight with myself and due to the negativity bias, the original belief wins. Two, and this one might just be me: I don’t like lying. It then spirals into failure because I can’t do what’s normal. Now I’ve reinforced the I’m never getting better train.
What I can do though, and has proven my brain wrong over and over (and no, I still don’t believe my actions yet), is doing something contradicting to what my brain keeps telling me. Pick actions that fight the little thoughts. There’s a lot of self-help that tells you to face the biggest problem first, this seems backwards. If all I can do is collect materials to build steps to the top of the dark pit I’m in, that’s all I can do. I’m not going to try to climb the walls only to keep falling down. That’s called relapse.
It’s not going to change overnight, and the thoughts may never go away. Just remember…
Thoughts are not behavior.