There are many concerns that the MAP (Minor Attracted Person) community faces. Often, those concerns have far more to do with stigma than they do with being attracted to minors. But how can that be? Well, take a little trip with me for a moment.

You read news articles where they use the word “pedophile” to refer to child rapists, or to child sexual abuse as “pedophilia,” you see internet comments on these articles that pedophiles should die, be castrated, outcast on an island, hanged, shot… you get the picture. That serves as the backdrop for what you will face as someone with an attraction to minors: An automatic assumption that you have, or will, molest children.

So, I am sure you can imagine why this might spawn thoughts of self-hate, depression, suicide, and negativity. This begs the question: What can a MAP do to counter some of that negativity?

First Technique: Awareness And Interruption

One of the first things that can be done about negativity is to be aware of our thoughts throughout the day. This can be achieved a variety of ways: Journaling, setting alarms (actual ones or internal ones) for an internal check-in about what you have been thinking about, talking to people.

Another thing that can be done, building off that awareness, is simply interrupting those negative thoughts. Sometimes, that can be done with reaching out to a friend for support. Sometimes, we can journal out what we are thinking about.

Other times, interrupting our negative thoughts can be a challenge because the thought is so believable we do not even recognize we are being overly negative, which is why building up an awareness is such an essential step.

Second Technique: Recognizing Unrealistic/Irrational Thoughts

This may sound like the first technique, but it is not the same. Beyond being aware of the content of our thoughts, we need to when that content is not accurate to whatever it is we are thinking about, particularly if we are thinking about ourselves, our situation, and our options for solving a problem. If we think our options are limited, but they really are not, then we can work ourselves into a situation where we perceive things as being hopeless, when in reality they are not.

Sometimes, that can be reaching out to people and asking a support person what they think about us or our situation. This could be as simple as asking, “Hey, what do you think of me? How do you see me?” It could be writing out your thoughts, and asking your support people what they think of it. The key is that you need an outside perspective looking at your thoughts, so you can measure whether they are realistic or rational.

Another method of measuring whether your thoughts are accurate is to be aware of ways we can deceive ourselves: One area of awareness is cognitive distortions, or thinking patterns that can complicate existing mental health issues or mental ruts. Another is knowing about logical fallacies, even if you do not remember the specific names for the fallacies, being familiar with how they operate can be helpful in self-reflection.

Third Technique: Challenging Negative/Irrational Thoughts

The third and final strategy for dealing with negative or irrational thoughts is directly challenging them. That is, once you have built up an awareness of what the negative/irrational thought is, you have the capacity to think about what you just thought about. This is where things get tricky.

For many of us, we can recognize the futility of a particular negative/irrational thought easily enough. But then afterwards, we beat ourselves up for having the thought… which defeats the entire point of building up that awareness. So the trick is not to shame ourselves for having the thought. Instead, we need to understand the content of the thought, and in our next thought, challenge that content.

For example:

The specific thought, and what we can do to challenge the thought, can vary widely. The key is to figure out a thought that will not be triggering, unrealistic, or negative that can be phrased in a positive way. Sometimes we might need the support of someone else to come up with positive ideas, sometimes it helps to write the thoughts down. Sometimes it can help to look up what are called “positive affirmations” and use the ideas that fit your thoughts and your situation.

Wrapping Up: Get Out Of Stinking Thinking!

One of the most important things we can do as a community of minor-attracted people is to acknowledge, recognize, and do our best to break free from negative mental patterns that can lead us to — or keep us in — depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. We cannot do this alone. We need the support of other people who can help us and speak to positive things in our lives to help us make positive changes. And yes, these people are going to challenge us. There will be days where we ask for someone’s support, and they will make us look at a truth about ourselves that is hard to take in.

Realizing things about yourself, and not having a guidebook on how to fix it, is a difficult and painful process. It takes work and dedication. At the same time, the results are well worth it: Not only can we come out the other end as improved people that think positively about ourselves, we can use our experiences to help others in the future.

After all, that is what being a family is about. For those who have not picked up on this yet, I view the MAP community as my extended family. Sure, I might argue with some of you. I might not understand everyone’s issues. I might offend people, intentionally or not. But at the end of the day, week, month… I care about you and your mental health. Do what you can to improve yourself, one day at a time, and give yourself the space to fall into negativity, and get back up again. You are worth it.