"Daily Mail brain" - how can the Daily Mail be helpful for our mental health?
“No-one really likes me.”
“People wouldn’t miss me if I wasn’t here.”
These are some of the thoughts that go through our minds every day. They’re not nice, in fact, they’re horrible, and we would never say them to anyone else. Yet, we say them to ourselves.
So what can we do about it?
Well, the aim of this article is to provide you with a simple way of viewing these thoughts differently. This is not about controlling our thoughts or making them go away, it is about changing how we see them. As many have said before me, "thoughts are not facts" and thinking something doesn't make it true. By altering the way we think so that we don't automatically believe everything that goes through our minds, difficult/painful thoughts lose some of their power and don’t have such an effect on us.
So what has any of this got to do with the Daily Mail?
Well, I grew up in a household where the Daily Mail was an ever present. My parents would read it every day and back then, I would too. What I noticed was that often the stories reported were not 100% true (to put it lightly) or seemed to have been completely made up. I quickly learnt to become cynical when reading headlines and to not believe what the news wanted me to. These days, whenever I read the paper, or any news for that matter, I take a more questioning look at it, and wonder how true it really is, or what other part of the story I may be missing. So that made me think, if we look at the news in this curious kind of way, why can’t we do the same with our thoughts? This is what I call the ‘Daily Mail brain’ – where we treat our thoughts as we do the news we read.
I’d like to give you an example of when I met with a client recently. They told me that they will often wake up in the morning and just know “it’s going to be a bad day”. More often than not, these days turn out to be bad just like they predicted. Hold that in mind, I’ll come back to it in a moment.
On a side note, think about the last time you were on the streets. How much rubbish (garbage for my US friends!) did you notice on the road as you walked down it? The chances are that many of you wouldn’t have noticed any at all. One possible explanation for this is because the mind wasn’t looking for it. If I asked you to look out for rubbish next time you were outside, I suspect you would notice a lot more. The issue here is, the mind has an amazing way of finding evidence to support what has been going through it, whether it be the amount of rubbish on the streets, or the kind of day you’re going to have.
So back to what my client said. It might be that sometimes she does have a bad day, we all do.But at other times it might be that the Daily Mail brain is looking out for evidence to prove that the thought “it’s going to be a bad day” is true. The Daily Mail Brain is trying to sell its story to you and so will grab any evidence it can to make you believe that what you’re thinking is true.
So you may be wondering, how can I use this in my daily life? Well, the take home message here is, don’t always buy in to what your ‘Daily Mail brain’ is telling you. Just because you’ve read something in a newspaper, or have had a thought pass through your mind, doesn’t mean it’s true.
This isn’t about suggesting that every thought you have is false. It’s just that some of our thoughts may not be true. Both the newspaper and your mind are trying to sell you a story. You don’t have to buy into it, or believe it.
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About Ilan Ben-Zion
Hi, I’m Ilan! I’m a chartered clinical psychologist and director of The Oak Tree Practice. I believe that as psychologists it is our duty to share our knowledge with the world via articles such as this.
For some people, therapy is the best way forward so if you are interested, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8936 7666.