TOLERANCE TO NEGATIVE THINKING
MENTAL SLIPPAGE - LOSS OF COMMAND AND CONTROL
I was working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War in
1991. This war pointed out how important command and
control are when engaged in military conflict. The
military selected command and control centers as their initial
targets. They knew if they destroyed them, they would
effectively decapitate the enemy. The forces in the field
would no longer be controlled by a coordinated central command.
The defensive structure of the enemy would collapse in an
uncoordinated manner like a house of cards. When there is
no one in command, there is loss of control.
The same thing happens in depression.
Command and control of thoughts becomes a major issue.
Depression takes command, and you no longer control the thoughts
that rumble through your mind.
People who are healthy don't have a
problem with command and control. They are in command, and
they control the content of their thoughts. One way to
tell if a person is clinically depressed is to look at command
and control. If they are in command of their mind, and if
they control the content of their thoughts, then they are not
seriously depressed. They may feel sad or down, but when
push comes to shove, they assume command of their mind, and they
are able to control the content to a significant degree.
When they lose command and control, they slide down the slippery
slope of depression.
Destructive, out of control automatic
thoughts are the hallmark of the loss of command and control
found in depression. All of us experience automatic
thoughts that pop into our mind, but our automatic thoughts
don't control us. They may annoy us, but if we are
healthy, they are only an intermittent irritation that we can
live with. We wish they would go away, and the sooner the
better, but at least they don't control us.
People with clinical depression have
automatic thoughts that control their life, and those thoughts
are more than a minor irritation; they take over. They
become a major stressor that wears them down and out.
When automatic thoughts take over, when
command and control passes out of your hands, it's time for
intervention by a trained professional. Until you
reestablish command and control, you will not get better.
If you are seriously depressed, you may
need medication to rebalance the chemistry of your brain to
reestablish command and control. Once the chemistry of
your brain moves in a positive direction, you are able to regain
control of your thoughts. After you reestablish control,
you have the possibility of eliminating your twisted thoughts
and distorted emotions.
MENTAL SLIPPAGE - WHAT'S HAPPENING
When I was sailing up the Australian Great Barrier Reef, I
stripped the gears on the autopilot that steers my yacht.
In my trip around the world, my autopilot steered the yacht for
more than thirty thousand miles. For all of those miles
the autopilot performed flawlessly, except when I stripped the
Stripped gears no longer function
properly; they slip and make a horrible grinding noise as my
sailboat heads off course. When the gears are stripped, my
autopilot is useless.
Stripped gears are like the mental
slippage found in depression; your stripped mental gears cause
your mental autopilot to breakdown. You wander of course,
and if you aren't careful, you end up on the rocks.
Mental slippage takes two forms.
The first part of mental slippage deals
with the control of your thoughts. You lose
control of your thoughts. Instead of you controlling your
thoughts, they control you. Automatic thoughts get into
the driver's seat and take you where you don't want to go - to
the Land or Depression.
The second part of mental slippage
deals with the content of your thoughts. Mental
slippage allows your mind to fill up with twisted, distorted
thoughts called cognitive distortions.
Mental slippage is basically a command and
control issue. Mental slippage means that your mental
autopilot is no longer functioning properly. Your life
wanders off course, and you head deeper and deeper into the Land
of Depression. Mental slippage is a real condition, and
until you fix it, you won't get better.
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