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Taking Out The Garbage

I both loathe and love garbage day.

I loathe it because, well it is garbage. I mean, who doesn't loathe garbage?

Especially because I often forget to take the outside bin to the street the night before. What this means for me, "Oh so not a morning person" is that I must get it to the street before 6am on garbage day. Ergo, without coffee or any other forms of caffeine, I drag a heavy bin full of a week's discarded, stinky, refuse down the long drive to sit on the curb.

Like a naughty school child waiting for a bus.

I also loathe changing out the full garbage bag for an empty one. It is (as previously mentioned) odorous, heavy and just basically unpleasant. I struggle to pull it out of the container because, in an admission of procrastination, I overfill it (just to postpone the emptying). Then, trudging down the long stairs from my deck to the back yard, I huff and puff with this poignant prize, until I can toss it into the outside bin.

Yesterday I had to do both: change out the bags and take the large receptacle to the street. I had once again neglected to roll the large bin to the curb, so I went ahead and emptied all the inside bins at 6am (grumbling about lack of coffee the entire time). After the laborious climb downstairs, I delivered the smaller refuse bags to the bin and delivered the bin to the street, just in time to see the huge green garbage-eating monster roaring down my street.

Ugh!

But...then something interesting happened.

I returned to my kitchen and had a cup of Java, my garbage trauma over for the week.

Later that morning, as I was in the process of refilling the inside cans with new bags, I experienced a moment of elation? relief? maybe even a flash of joy?

Clean bags.

Not a trace of trash or refuse or stink to be seen or smelled.

I took a moment to think about and appreciate the whole "circle of life" (or trash, if you will) new beginnings, fresh start... Dare I say, opportunities!

You get the point. I now had a receptacle that was empty and ready to accept new offerings.

Maybe a stretch, but I got to thinking about the metaphor of my mind as a garbage bin. Recently, as you may have read in earlier blogs, I have been dealing with some difficult things in my life. Like all of us, experiencing difficulties can increase the negative thoughts which can lead to self-doubt, lower self-confidence, even some mild depression. As a therapist, I know the dangers of allowing negative distortions to dance freely about your brain without challenge. I know from my work that everyone has negative cognitive distortions or thoughts every day. It is human nature. But we don't have to allow those thoughts to take our minds captive without challenging them. In other words, when our brain get full of garbage, we need to learn to take it out and put in a fresh bag.

How do we do this?

One really good way to not let the stink of negative thoughts drive you to self-blaming, low self worth or depression is to "put them on trial."

Challenging negative thoughts or cognitive distortions sounds difficult, but is, in actuality relatively simple.

  1. Learn to recognize cognitive distortions (negative thoughts effecting your mind)

  2. Example: You screwed up! Everyone knows you can't do this job. They think you are a loser

  3. Challenge that thought: What evidence do I have that it is true?

  4. What has been said or done that leads me to believe that people think I am a loser

  5. List the facts that prove that the thought is not based on reality

  6. Just last week my supervisor praised my performance. My colleagues asked for my input.

  7. Reframe the thought into something more positive.

  8. Ok, I missed a deadline. But it was the first time and I will own it and make sure that I don't miss anymore.

Don't let the trash in your brain, stink it up. Make sure when you recognize it getting full of negativity, don't let it sit and become rotten.

Take out the garbage.

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