I'm a textbook overthinker.
And as much as I'd like to say that it can be "helpful" or "valuable" in some sort of sense, it isn't. It is a constant hindrance to my life that I can usually push to the side by diverting my attention elsewhere. However, thanks to social distancing, it is pretty hard to distract myself from, well, me.
My mental health has taken a sharp decline ever since the pandemic hit, largely by great virtue of having to face my thoughts as well as trying to figure out what to do with my days so I won't go insane.
I know many people are struggling with the same exact thing — being cooped up in the house and forced to listen to your own negative thoughts is exhausting and takes an immense toll on our mental health.
However, as I've realized, having to face our negative thoughts can sort of be a blessing in disguise. Mindfulness is a great tool, but can only go so far; sitting around and waiting for that thought to pass isn't so therapeutic in the long run.
Negative thoughts are a part of being human. If we are constantly distracting ourselves from them — pushing them away or repressing them or waiting for them to vanish — they will just get worse.
In all other aspects of our life, we tend to avoid scary things to stay safe — for example, a dangerous person. However, this doesn't work the same with our thoughts. If we keep avoiding them, the thought may become stronger and more convincing the longer you push it aside.
Rather than accepting your thoughts as an ultimate truth, recognize that negative thoughts will come and go, and explore into why you are having them.
For example, say you have the pervading belief that you are not a good person. Say to yourself, "I am having the thought that I am not a good person," and then continue to explore that with curiosity: "Because I am going through a tough time right now, it is understandable that I am not thinking highly of myself. But that doesn't mean it is true and that I do not have a positive impact on people. There are many people who appreciate my time and I shouldn't be focusing on who doesn't."
This type of thought process is beneficial in the sense that we are checking on the validity of our thoughts. Where meditation and mindfulness encourage us to get rid of the thought completely, we aren't actively checking why we think that way, and thus that leads to the negative thought popping up more. When we choose to actually face it and understand our thought process leading up to it, it is easier to stop ourselves earlier in the process rather than it snowballing into a heaping pile of dog dookie. In other words, those big, nasty negative thoughts lose their power.
Additionally, recognize that these thoughts will not last forever. You will one day have joy that patches this pain. You will read books that you haven't read that will inspire you. You will make great friends and laugh so hard that your stomach hurts and have mind-blowing conversations. You will dance and eat delicious new foods. You will hear your future new favorite songs and go on amazing adventures. Life is waiting for you, and it is worth it. So hang on in there, and I assure you everything will be okay.