Thought Ladders

Have you tried repeating affirmations, only to end up disappointed? Affirmations are a new trend in pop psychology that can be really helpful—if done correctly. Take, for example, you are struggling with depression. You constantly think “I am sad ” or “it’s not possible to be happy,” and you want to change that. Maybe you came up with the affirmation “I am happy,” and you try to replace the sad thoughts with that phrase. You can repeat that phrase all day long, but if you don’t believe it, it won’t do the trick. Instead, you should choose an affirmation that you can actually believe, such as “it is possible to be happy” or “in time I will grow to be happy.”  Or, maybe it’s easier to remove yourself from the affirmation all together, and say something like “it is possible for people to be happy” or “people can change from being depressed to being happy over time.” Now, when you have a sad thought, you can replace it with that phrase, and actually believe it. With practice, your brain will start going to that thought more naturally than the sad thought, and your belief in your potential for happiness will expand. Then, from there, you can come up with a more happy thought, like “I am happy sometimes” or “happiness comes easily to me in certain situations.” Eventually, perhaps along with some positive life changes, you can get to affirmations such as “I am often happy” or “I am a generally happy person.” It’s like climbing up the rungs of a ladder, from mildly happy thoughts to powerfully happy thoughts, until you get to the place you want to be. And remember, be patient and kind to yourself along the way.