Archive for the ‘Negative Thinking’ Category

negative thoughts and behavioursOften we post lots of information about ‘positive’ signs and skills. After all part of recovery is learning to focus on the positive. But what about the negative, how do you recognise negative coping skills. How do you know that the behaviours you are doing are actually harming you or not promoting recovery. We live inside our heads so much that often negative process are so natural as breathing we think this is normal. Continuing negative behaviours can act as triggers for relapse or harming ourselves even more.

As part of a bigger post, I found a great list of negative behaviours and recognising them as such. Put together by Blake Flannery it is an excellent starting point. You can add your own unique negative behaviours to the list. The full article by Blake ‘List of Coping Skills for Anger, Anxiety and Depression’, also gives a lot of positive skills and how they actually help us by adopting them.

Being aware is the starting point for changing any behaviour.

Negative Coping Skills

Here’s a list of things that will cost you in the long run as coping strategies. These do more harm than good in most cases and can make life more stressful.


  1. Procrastination
  2. Abusing drugs or alcohol
  3. Wasting time on unimportant tasks
  4. Shopping (online or malls)

Interpersonal (With Others)

  1. Blaming
  2. Isolating/withdrawing
  3. Mean or hostile joking
  4. Gossiping
  5. Criticizing others
  6. Manipulating others
  7. Refusing help from others
  8. Lying to others
  9. Sabotaging plans
  10. Being late to appointments
  11. Provoking violence from others
  12. Enabling others to take advantage of you

Cognitive (of the Mind)

  1. Denying any problem
  2. Stubbornness/inflexibility
  3. All or nothing/black or white thinking
  4. Catastrophizing
  5. Overgeneralizing

Tension Releasers

  1. Tantrums
  2. Throwing things at people
  3. Hitting people
  4. Yelling at others
  5. Destroying property
  6. Speeding or driving recklessly


  1. Suicide
  2. Self harm
  3. Developing illnesses


  1. Making fun of yourself
  2. Self-sabotaging behaviors
  3. Blaming yourself


  1. Spending too much
  2. Gambling
  3. Eating/drinking too much
  4. Setting dangerous fires
  5. Continually crying

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C0uldn’t word it better. Most sufferers of an eating disorder self-harm at some stage. Some just flirt with the behaviour, others become entrenched. The self-harm can start before the ED develops, it can start during or be part of the recovery process.

Thank you to PsychCentral: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/06/12/11-helpful-tips-from-the-parent-of-a-self-harmer/


Caring for self-harmersHere are 11 tips that I discovered along the way to help any parent going through a similar situation.

  1. Do not ask why. When someone self-harms, they don’t have words to describe their pain. The self-harm is an outward display of their inner emotions. Asking why will not give you the explanation you are looking for. Your child doesn’t have the answer, and this line of questioning will only make him or her feel uncomfortable and ashamed. Instead, ask if there is anything you can do to help him or her feel better.
  2. Talk to your child about first aid. By inquiring if bandages, antibiotic ointment, or any other type of first aid is needed you are starting a dialogue. This may open up an opportunity for your child to show you more of their injuries or tell you something about their pain. It is important that your child knows that they should wash their wounds with soap and water and continue to keep them clean to avoid an infection. Explain the signs of an infection and the importance of seeking medical attention if needed.
  3. Ask if he or she is safe or can keep him- or herself safe. If your child has hurt him- or herself, then they are in emotional as well as physical pain. Self-harm usually isn’t a suicide attempt, but suicidal thoughts can accompany the self-harm. There is a strong link between previous self-harm and suicide. Do not ignore it. Speak to a professional if suicidal thoughts are involved.
  4. Validate your child’s feelings. Validation is one of the most important elements to learn before parenting any child. You are acknowledging your child’s emotions, not diminishing them. You don’t have to agree with his or her feelings, you just have to be supportive. Everyone deserves to be accepted without judgment. Validation helps your child feel heard, acknowledged, and understood.
  5. Find a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Your child needs to talk to an experienced and competent professional. Do not be afraid to interview them and make sure they are the right fit. Obtain referrals from physicians, friends, or family members.As the caregiver, you need to talk to someone just as much as your child does. Take time to nurture yourself.
  6. Do not punish your child for self-injurious behavior. Self-harm is not an act of rebellion or attention-seeking behavior. Your child is hurting him- or herself because he or she is in a great deal of emotional pain. Don’t make their pain worse. Love them, nurture them, and listen to them.
  7. Remove obvious items that can be used for self-injury. If your child has to go to the effort of finding something to self-harm, rather than grabbing a knife from the kitchen drawer, it may give him or her time to think about what he or she is doing and change his or her mind. Lock sharp items away, take them with you or hide them, but don’t leave them out for easy access.
  8. Research self-harm and healthy coping skills. This is a time when you have a lot of questions. There are many helpful sites about self-injury on the Internet.Learn about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This type of therapy combines standard psychotherapy with skills training. The patients learn healthy coping skills to combat self-harm triggers. DBT works best if the parent also learns about the therapeutic method, so he or she can be supportive and encouraging.
  9. Do not minimize self-harm. When a child self-harms on a regular basis, a parent can get into the habit of thinking that this behavior is “not so bad.” This is dangerous; every incident of self-harm is significant and should not be minimized. Remember there are links between self-injury and suicide.
  10. Be honest, not disappointed. Your child doesn’t want to be in emotional pain or self-harm. Part of the healing process will involve setbacks. Be prepared for these. Never tell your child that you are disappointed in him or her for self-harming. This will only create a barrier in your relationship. Remember to validate. You don’t have to agree, you just have to listen.Honesty can create a bond between you and your child. If you don’t know what to say or do, be truthful and tell your child that you don’t know how to help him or her. They are likely to accept this, because he or she doesn’t know what to do, either.
  11. Don’t say “but.” But is an invalidating word. For example, if you say “I’m proud of you for telling me that you cut yourself, but next time talk to me before this happens,” the only thing your child will hear is that they weren’t good enough. Instead say, “I’m proud of you for telling me that you cut yourself. How do you feel now?” Have a dialogue and then later ask, “What can we do to help you talk to me if you are having these feelings or urges again?” Your child doesn’t listen to everything you say; make sure everything you say is worth hearing.

Overcoming the addictive hold self-harm has on your child will take time, patience, and effort. Offer your help and guidance. Be the parent your child needs during this difficult time in his or her life.


APA Reference
Larsen, T. (2015). 11 Helpful Tips from the Parent of a Self-Harmer. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 14, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/06/12/11-helpful-tips-from-the-parent-of-a-self-harmer/

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feelings and anorexiaThere is a blog doing the rounds at the moment of how it is to feel during an eating disorder, particularly anorexia. It is a haunting read. Many of us, either parents/carers or sufferers relate to every feeling. It highlights where we are or have been. We can shout, YES! we agree with all of that.

But we need to balance out what is the need for validation and the need for truth. Every story about living and surviving, or living and still struggling with an eating disorders needs validation. They are your personal journey, your personal thoughts and feelings. Validation is essential, otherwise it takes away your value as a person. It makes your journey a real one. It also helps those of us who don’t suffer with an ED to understand what is going on in the mind of someone who does. It helps those who suffer to know they are not alone nor in some weird, hateful universe of their own making.

The truth of these feelings though is what is needs to be understood. In the depth of the grip of an eating disorder (particularly anorexia), the mind is totally in the control of the ED. It is manipulated, distorted and controlled. Normal perceptions, thoughts and feelings are not happening. What you think and feel is based solely upon the eating disorder and not based in truth or reality. The ED distorts reality, life, decisions and perceptions so badly that your feelings get mixed into this mess as well. It may seem like truth, that this is all there is and it is real. But once you are on the other side, into recovery or recovered, you can see these feelings were not based on truth. Life is not like that, the people around you are not like that, you are not like that.

All mental health illnesses distort our perceptions and govern our thoughts and feelings. When I am severely depressed I know I think all sorts of weird, paranoid, self-inflicting thoughts. I feel many things but none of them based on the reality around me. It’s when I am back in safer lands that I realise that those feelings were not true nor indicative of what was happening to me or around me. My daughter used to think and feel like this current highlighted blog post, but she will tell you now that she knows those feelings to be just about all false. That it was the anorexia that coloured everything and gave her those dreadful feelings.

A good therapist will hear your feelings and validate them. They will allow you to identify and explore your feelings.

A better therapist will THEN point out the ED behaviour and teach you to separate yourself from the negative and distorted feelings.

Our whole team based their care of my daughter on this. They called each anorexic thought, feelings and behaviour into the open and pointed out how false and wrong they were. Without taking away my daughter’s need to be heard or validated.

She never felt she had to apologise for her feelings or she was wrong for feeling them. She did learn that the anorexia had given her thoughts and feelings that were not true about herself and life around her. She learnt to counter each negative feeling with a positive one.

When writing our stories, we need to be mindful that we show that these feelings are only for here and now in the grip of the illness. We need to put forward what happens after therapy and into recovery, that our feelings change and we see things for more differently as the ED loses it’s grips. We need to ensure that our stories are not ‘blanket’ approaches, one size fits all. Above all we need to share that hope lives and that the negative, destructiveness of an eating disorder does not last.

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This post is two excerts from Weightless about the inner voice that is part of a lot of mental health illnesses and how to manage them. Worth reposting for my readers. I really like the bit about saying “Oh I’m hearing the critic now”. Sophie was taught to say “Oh it’s that anorexia voice again, it’ boring”. We learnt that pushing or arguing with the voice just adds more fuel to the fire. Taking away it’s power to hurt you by ignoring or downplaying it can be far more effective.

And yes the asperger post is next.

Distinguishing the Inner Critichttp://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2014/10/how-to-distinguish-your-core-self-from-your-inner-critic/

  • It’s harsh and mean. If you’d never say these things to someone you love, it’s your inner critic.
  • It’s black and white. You are either beautiful or ugly. Your dreams are either possible or impossible.
  • It’s the voice of reason. It mentions things that are supposedly in your best interest, such as “If you go forward with the book, you’ll ruin your reputation. Your work isn’t ready for that level of scrutiny. Better hold off for a while.” I’ve realized that, today, my inner critic is largely made up of this voice. It’s the voice that says, Are you sure you should be the one writing this book? Can’t you think of 50 other writers who should be writing this book instead of you? You’re not very good at public speaking. Let’s never do that, OK?
  • It says, “you aren’t ready yet.” “You need more time to prepare,” or “You need more experience.”
  • It spews self-critical thoughts about aging or your weight, shape or size. It says that you look too big or too old. It says you need to lose weight or shouldn’t be wearing this or that.
  • It rehashes negative core narratives.
  • It attacks you with critical thoughts, and then shames you for having those thoughts.
  • It sounds like your parents, siblings or your boss or anyone else who’s been critical.
  • It sounds like your company or culture.

What to do when the Inner Critic is LOUDhttp://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2014/10/what-to-do-when-your-inner-critic-is-roaring/

  • We never win an argument with our inner critics.
  • Instead, when we hear self-doubt,  name the inner critic: “Oh, I’m hearing the critic now.”
  • Explore the inner critic’s motives. We can ask: “What are you trying to do? What are you trying to prevent or protect me from?”
  • Tell the inner critic in a sincere way: “Thanks, but I’ve got this one covered.”
  • Separate yourself from the inner critic. Instead of saying “I’m having a freak-out right now,” say “My inner critic is having a little freak-out right now.” This helps to train our minds to realize that the inner critic is just one voice within us, and “not the primary one.”
  • Seek out humor. Ask yourself, “What is absurd or funny about what my critic is saying right now?”
  • Pretend that you’re putting all the inner critic’s thoughts away into a cup, box or bowl. Then move it into another room. Get back to whatever you are doing knowing that the inner critic is no longer present.
  • Notice where the inner critic’s voice resides in or around your body. Then picture that voice withdrawing, or moving away from you.
  • Picture a volume dial for the inner critic. Simply turn it down.

One thing she does miss in the ‘what to do’ is using your distractions toolbox. Friends, movie, doing something different or active can be like changing the channel on the TV. Removes you from the place where the inner voice was trying to get attention.

The inner critic

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Some of the latest research is focussing on smaller areas of eating disorders. In trying to find understanding which translates into treatment, which translates into health, eating disorders are being taken apart and looked at through every layer.

To get forward movement in research this is a good approach. But when handing down the results of the research we have to be careful. Such small areas of focus does not mean that the results can be shown to be a blanket approach. And we need to be careful the of wording used in the research title and findings.

The below demonstrates this. The latest research caused a lot of comment across blogs with its wording and seemingly blanket approach. It is very good research and is quite correct in saying what it does. It highlights areas and provides understanding of emotions and behaviour that has barely been discussed. We need this kind of research.

However, the word positive conjures up the wrong idea. In today’s society there are so many positive self-esteem approaches, so many positive ideas for health, wealth and life. By aligning ‘positive’ to this research it seems to correlate it to the life we know – those of us who don’t suffer from an eating disorder. For those with an eating disorder, the word positive is not positive at all. Like every other word and behaviour, ‘positive’ has been distorted, maligned and perverted through the eyes of the ED. It is not a ‘positive’ emotion as we know it. Nor does the ‘positive’ emotion last or build-up the person. It is fleeting, drowned in the ever-present, and quick to deny, ED voice. It does not build-up the person, only puts down and is  a destructive force of ‘positivity’. Understand that those with an ED do gain a positive, determined or proud emotion but it is distorted and focussed on tearing themselves apart.

The other thing we need to be mindful of, is that whilst this type of research is great, it must be made clear that not all sufferers will experience these emotions. Eating disorders don’t come as a one-size fits all. That’s what makes them difficult to treat and find a treatment plan that works. Sophie is just one example of many – someone who didn’t find positive or pride to be words to describe her journey. And if they were there in any measure, they were really negative emotions pretending to be positive emotions. Weight lost meant she had failed to lose enough. She failed on every level – no pride, no positive emotion. Only failure and the voice of the anorexia telling her what as failure she was.

In looking for ‘positive’ or ‘pride’ in each sufferer we can overlook other words that can help toward recovery. Negative words they may be, but a negative ALWAYS has a positive. Rigid can be turned into determination. Fear can become guarded (ie protection). By looking in a more positive way for the negative words that describe an eating disorder, you can turn on a light for those in recovery. Just thinking or rewording something in a different way can bring about change that can be harnessed for recovery. It’s something that Sophie’s counsellor did with quite a few of the negative words that come with the diagnosis of an eating disorder. Photographers change their camera lens to get a different view of the same subject, the same can be done with eating disorders to gain precious steps forward for recovery.

The links and summaries of the research findings are below. Worth reading, worth understanding and definitely worth seeing if they describe where you are in the illness.

** http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280662.php

Past research claims that negative emotions, such as feeling depressed or angry, can fuel anorexia nervosa. But a new study from Rutgers University in New Jersey finds the eating disorder can also be encouraged by “skewed” positive emotions, such as feeling pride after weight loss.

** http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/16427/20140804/anorexia-may-be-encouraged-by-pride.htm

A new study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University examines the complications related to the health issue. Study results showed that individuals dealing with this complicated obsession often pride themselves on how much weight they can lose, according to findings published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

** http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/201408/anorexia-nervosa-and-positive-emotion

Although it is well established that many with anorexia experience body dissatisfaction and apprehension about weight gain, the rewarding aspects of weight loss may be particularly pronounced during the development of anorexia and have not been well studied (Walsh, 2013). Many anorexic patients believe their ability to lose weight makes them more attractive and builds self-control and confidence. Another source of positive reinforcement in anorexia may be through exposure to stimuli that promote extreme weight loss, such as content posted on “Pro-Ana” (Pro-Anorexia) websites, which feature images of thin/emaciated women and inspirational quotes for weight loss.


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The below is a powerful post of what not to say, even if you think you mean well. Even though the study was targetted at anxiety, the results are the same for depression and eating disorders. Throw-away phrases like those below, never help the sufferer, only make the journey back to health harder, lonelier and longer.

The Priory Group asked anxiety sufferers to share the worst comments people had made about their anxiety. The results, shown in these pictures, revealed a general lack of empathy.



Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

“Saying ‘snap out of it’ or ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’ is hugely detrimental,” says long-term anxiety sufferer Jonathan. “What that person doesn’t realise is that they are embedding those thoughts into the anxiety sufferer’s mind, which ultimately makes it worse.”

Dr Paul McLaren, a consultant psychiatrist at Hayes Grove Hospital, agrees that people need to have a better grasp of anxiety as an illness.

“It is not easy to switch off,” he said. “We need to work on educating people to help them understand that anxiety is a normal part of human experience and nothing to be ashamed of.”


Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

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From Libero Network

This month we are talking about Mental Barriers, which is interesting because in the last few months my life has been defined by mental barriers. More specifically, my life has been defined by one of my largest mental barriers: not being good enough. Or, I suppose I should say thinking I’m not good enough.

When in recovery this was a struggle – what if I’m not strong enough to recovery? I’m not “disciplined” enough… I’m not strong enough… I’m not “special” like the people who recover. All lies.

Now I am through recovery (and thus have proven wrong all of those previous statements) and yet my barrier remains.

Lauren B - we are capableWhether it’s a new job, a request for help, or an amazing opportunity, my first response is no. Not “No I won’t do it” but rather “No I can’t do it”.

And even though I have an army of people around me cheering me on, with complete confidence in me (the same way I have complete confidence in them), I still cling to this single phrase: I’m not good enough.

Truth be told, if I really dissect it (my favourite thing to do!) I think the phrase is more “What if I’m not good enough?”

At its core, I think this barrier is more about fear than anything else. Yes insecurity comes into play, and yes pessimism does, too; but mostly I think it’s about fear. The fear of not being good enough, the fear of letting people down, the fear of not measuring up – of failing.

It’s amazing the power fear will take if you let it – it can completely handicap you and keep you from moving forward, keep you stuck standing in one place while you hesitate to even take one step forward for fear you mess it up.

This is not living. This is not thriving. And this is not justified.

The truth is we are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for.

And any voice that tells us otherwise (whether it comes from within us, or from the outside) is a lie.

Sure, there are some thing I cannot do – for example, I probably couldn’t become a successful accountant – why? Because I work in words, not numbers, and the thought of money sends me into a panic attack. But here’s the thing: I don’t really want to become a successful accountant. Why? Because I work in words, not numbers, and the thought of money sends me into a panic attack. I hope you are getting my point?

I believe we are all created with passions and desires that relate directly to our abilities. If you are passionate about something and feel the desire to do it, then this means you are also equipped to do it. Sure there may be some training along the way, and a few mistakes and trips (of course!) but you will still be able to do it. You will be capable.

The same can be said for recovery – anyone can recover. There is nothing “special” about those who do it. We are not the “chosen few” – if anything, we are the few who chose it.

When you really want something, and you are driven towards it, and you have your eyes, heart, and mind set on the goal, you will succeed. Maybe “success” won’t look exactly how you thought in the beginning, but you still will succeed.

But calling yourself “not good enough” or assuming failure can be a self-fulfilling prophecy – so don’t let it be. Fear is the enemy of progress; but fear of this type cannot exist unless we bring it into existence.

And so even though I know it’s easier said than done, this month I encourage you to start breaking down your mental barriers – whatever they are – and for those of you who struggle with not being good enough, with self-doubt, with fear, I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to know I am with you. And, most importantly, I want you to know that like any other mental barrier, it is something within us that can be broken down. It doesn’t have to control you and it certainly doesn’t have to define you.

So that job? That big opportunity? That goal? That thought of entering into recovery? DO IT – because you can, and as soon as you embrace this truth, you will.

Much love,
Lauren Bersaglio

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Libero Network

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