If you're living with depression, unresolved trauma, and/or if you're going through an extremely difficult experience, then it can be common to think the negative thought "I'm broken". In particular, this can often happen when, for example:
- You feel so overwhelmed by what you're going through that you're unable to function (and in some cases, even get out of bed);
- You find yourself constantly breaking down and snapping / crying over "something small";
- You're struggling to do the "little things" that you think should be "easy" (such as concentrating at work, maintaining a tidy home, or keeping up with your to-do list, for example);
- You're comparing yourself to other people who aren't struggling with the same things you are;
- You feel so worn out, exhausted and defeated by what you're going through that you don't think you'll ever be able to recover from it / overcome it.
No matter what's causing you to think "I'm broken", though, as you can likely relate to, it's a very debilitating thought to experience, because it can cause you to feel worthless, useless and hopeless... which can further convince you that you're broken ... which can cause you to feel even more worthless, useless and hopeless ... which can even further convince you that you're broken ... and so the vicious cycle continues and continues.
However, it's extremely important to note that just because you think the negative thought "I'm broken", it does not mean that this negative thought is true. And, in order to help you see that you are not broken, in this blog post, we'd like to share with you five ways that you can reframe this negative thought.
What Is Cognitive Reframing, And How Can It Help You Break Free Of The Negative Thought "I'm Broken"?
Cognitive reframing is a common cognitive behavioural therapy strategy1 that involves:
- Looking at something in an alternative way (e.g. in a more positive way, a more self-compassionate way, a more uplifting way, etcetera);
- As a result of looking at something in an alternative way, it can result in you feeling an alternative way about that something (e.g. more positive, more confident, more uplifted, more hopeful, etcetera).
With that being said, as promised, let's now look at five different ways that you can reframe the negative thought "I'm broken" to help you see that you're not broken - which as a result, can help you feel more uplifted, better about yourself, and hopeful.
1. Reframing The Negative Thought "I'm Broken" In A More Self-Compassionate Way
- Instead of thinking "I'm broken" when you're struggling to concentrate at work, you could reframe this negative thought to: "I have so much going on in my life right now that will naturally make it hard to focus. For this reason, I should be gentle with myself during this difficult time, and adjust my expectations of myself accordingly."
- Instead of thinking "I'm broken" when your unresolved trauma gets triggered, you could reframe this negative thought to: "what I went through was extremely painful, and violated my need for safety. It will naturally take time to heal from all the complex emotions surrounding my trauma, and throughout this process, I need to be patient with myself."
- Instead of thinking "I'm broken" when you have a breakdown, you could reframe this negative thought to: "this breakdown is a sign I need to prioritise my mental health, and that I've been neglecting it for too long. Right now, I need to be my own best friend, and give myself space to rest and figure out my next steps."
2. Reframing The Negative Thought "I'm Broken" In A Way That Takes Into Account The Evidence That Refutes This Negative Thought
When you think "I'm broken", you're likely focusing on an event, struggle, or something you've done that you believe is evidence for this thought. However, there's also likely a lot of evidence against this thought as well that when you're thinking "I'm broken", you're unconsciously ignoring. In particular, this may include, for example:
- The times of hardship you've survived in the past and come out the other side of - which demonstrates your strength, courage and resilience;
- The times you've worked hard towards your goals or things that matter to you - which shows you have a good work ethic and determination;
- The fact that you're kind, caring and respectful to others - which shows you have good morals.
Now, when factoring in this evidence against the negative thought "I'm broken", this negative thought could now be reframed as, for example:
- "I'm not broken - I'm a strong, courageous and resilient person who's capable of finding a way through difficult times."
- "I might feel broken right now, but my good work ethic and determination will help me find the light at the end of the tunnel."
- "What I went through hasn't broken me, because I'm still the same kind, caring, respectful person I've always been."
3. Reframing The Negative Thought "I'm Broken" In A More Positive Way
- "I am strong and resilient for continuing to work hard and push myself even when times are tough."
- "I am confident and optimistic that even though I'm struggling right now, things will get better and I will grow from this."
- "I know that with time and rest, my energy will come back and I'll be back to my normal self."
4. Reframing The Negative Thought "I'm Broken" In A Way That Removes Comparisons
Like we've touched upon, it's common to think "I'm broken" as a result of comparing yourself to others. For example:
- Thinking "I'm broken" because other people appear to be living a fun, happy life on social media - while meanwhile, you're in a depressive episode.
- Thinking "I'm broken" because everybody else you know seems to be able to function normally - while due to you being in a depressive episode, it's a struggle for you to do your chores, shower and get out of bed.
Consequently, another worthwhile way of reframing the negative thought "I'm broken" is to do so in a way that avoids engaging in comparisons. For example:
- "I am on my own journey, and it's not fair to judge it by the same metrics as others."
- "I don't judge my worst moments by comparing them to another person's social media highlight reel."
- "Everyone has their own unique challenges, and that's OK."
5. Reframing The Negative Thought "I'm Broken" In A Way That Acknowledges Your Potential To Learn, Heal And Grow
The negative thought "I'm broken" makes a very concrete, fixed conclusion about who you are, without giving any room or consideration for, for example:
- Who you could become;
- How you could grow;
- The positive traits you can develop;
- The skills you can cultivate to navigate the challenges you're facing;
- The strategies you can learn to heal from depression, trauma, and/or another mental health issue.
Consequently, yet another powerful way of reframing the negative thought "I'm broken" is to do so in a way that acknowledges your potential to learn, heal and grow. For example:
- "Just because I feel broken right now, it doesn't mean that I always will."
- "With time and hard work, I will overcome the challenges I'm facing today."
- "I am a work in progress, and that's OK."
- "I am focused on my growth, and I'm aware that healing takes time."
- "I will turn my struggles into lessons that fuel my growth, and help guide me towards a better tomorrow."
- "The more help I seek, the more I'll gradually be able to heal over time."
Anytime you think the negative thought "I'm broken", we really encourage you to try to reframe it using one or more of the methods we've shared with you in this blog post. If you've never tried to reframe your negative thoughts before, then this is something you may initially find difficult to do. However, the more you practice, the easier it will become, and as a result, you'll find it increasingly easier to be able to cope with and overcome this negative thought.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.
P.S. If you'd like to learn a lot more cognitive behavioural therapy strategies to help you cope with and overcome negative thoughts like "I'm broken", then we've created a Bootcamp to help you do just that!
Access to this Bootcamp and lots of others are included as part of our Depression Bootcamps Membership Platform - which you can learn more about by clicking the button below.