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Don't Believe Everything You Think

You don't believe everything you read, right?

You don't believe everything that anyone else tells you.

Take it one step further: Don't Believe Everything You Think.

Thoughts are just that. They're thoughts. Nobody's thoughts are true all of the time.

Consider this:

In September 2000, then 19 year old Kevin Hines had thoughts that compelled him to jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of the 4% of people who have survived that jump. He lived to share the thought that he had the moment after he jumped. "What have I done, I don't want to die, I realized I made the greatest mistake of my life." Kevin felt instant regret before he even hit the water. Then, he crashed feet first into the water, crushing spinal vertebrae and breaking an ankle. Upon recovery, he became a suicide prevention and mental health advocate. He has said, "My goal is to try to instill hope in at least one individual."

And, consider this:

In June 2016, then 24 year old Cameron Underwood held a gun under his chin and pulled the trigger. He was home alone and drunk at the time of the suicide attempt. His uncle found Cameron bloody and staggering in the house, but very much alive. Cameron spent 5 months in the hospital and underwent several reconstructive surgeries. He wasn't lucid enough to understand what had happened for the first 2 months. Then, he couldn't believe what he had done. In January 2018, Cameron underwent a 25 hour face transplant. The donor of the face was a 23 year old John Hopkins University student who died suddenly on New Year's Eve 2017, following his own long battle with mental illness. Cameron is one of the 15% of people who have survived a suicide attempt by self-inflicted gunshot wound. Cameron lived to share these thoughts: "I hope my experience inspires others... The journey hasn't been easy but it's been well worth it."

Studies have shown that 90% of people who survive a suicide attempt do not die from a subsequent suicide attempt. That is, 90% of people who *thought* that life was no longer worth living later found themselves with the *thought* that life is very much worth living. Sometimes, they think that life is well worth living even with severe physical pain and disfigurement.

Thoughts change.

Circumstances change.

We all learn from our own mistakes.

We can also try to learn from the regrets voiced by other people.

The next time you find yourself stuck with a troubling thought:

1) Identify your feelings. Are you feeling Sad? Anxious? Angry? Ashamed?

Allow yourself to feel your emotions for as many days or weeks as needed.

Notice the times that the intensity of your emotions subsides.

Notice when the frequency of the emotions diminishes.

2) If you find yourself compelled to *do something* because of a troubling thought, then

stop and reconsider.

Remember: Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts change.

Remember: Actions, unlike thoughts, can have permanent, regrettable consequences.

Imagine that you have a dear, cherished friend in your same exact situation. Write that friend a letter. Be compassionate. What would you tell your friend? Can you help your friend anticipate possible regrets? Can you help your friend act in line with his/her values? Try to think outside of the box that you feel stuck in. If you're having a hard time being your own supportive friend, speak with someone else.

You can always click on the "Need Immediate Help" tab in the menu bar at the top of this page for free and confidential emotional support.

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