Positive self-messaging helps! Who’d have thought that?

Okay, it’s November 21 and I am way behind in my Nanowrimo word count and I have yet to meet my goal of finishing my novel and etc, so I have a lot of work to do. Of course, being a writer, this leads to crashes of depression about my choice to pursue this course, about writing as a general focus, about the overall better suitability of me as a door stop.

So I turn on my computer and as I waste time wandering through my email, I find the reference to this study, which recommends treatment for depression that includes mainly reviewing past experiences and instead of focusing on them as they happened, working out how you might have made things different. For some reason this seems to have a better effect than just laying about relaxing (which I have practised quite regularly) or digging for reasons behind the source of anxiety (check) in dealing with depression.

So it’s a bit like what I used to tell my kids about nightmares. Go back to sleep, I’d tell them, but this time, how would you beat the monster? Then, once they’d figured that out, they could go to sleep and sleep unthreatened by that monster.

In depression’s case, I guess it helps to say to yourself (or myself, in this case), Well, if you wrote 200 words a day even, you’d be way ahead of where you are now and feeling better. Or if you’d actually stuck to organizing your novel into Scrivener instead of being distracted by contests and shiny objects, you’d be good to go.

I’m not sure this is helping. Maybe there’s a special process to go through. Right now, I just sound like my mother…”if only you’d applied yourself…”


Here’s the study:

Training in ‘Concrete Thinking’ Can Be Self-Help Treatment for Depression, Study Suggests


The CNT (concrete thinking therapy) involved the participants undertaking a daily exercise in which they focused on a recent event that they had found mildly to moderately upsetting. They did this initially with a therapist and then alone using an audio CD that provided guided instructions. They worked through standardised steps and a series of exercises to focus on the specific details of that event and to identify how they might have influenced the outcome.

CNT significantly reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, on average reducing symptoms from severe depression to mild depression during the first two months and maintaining this effect over the following three and six months. On average, those individuals who simply continued with their usual treatment remained severely depressed.

Although concreteness training and relaxation training both significantly reduced depression and anxiety, only concreteness training reduced the negative thinking typically found in depression. Moreover, for those participants who practised it enough to ensure it became a habit, CNT reduced symptoms of depression more than relaxation training.