Like many of you, I’ve suffered from depression on occasion, and have been paralyzed by worry other times, unable to shake my negative thoughts until something happened to relieve my worry. Try as I might, I couldn’t block these negative thoughts and feelings as they were happening, even though I was aware that I was missing out on all the lovely things happening in my life at the same time. After reading some methods of beating depression and worry, and trying them out, I have successfully diminished these periods of negativity so that they are small and much less painful, and I’ve been able to turn them into opportunities to improve the conditions of my life. To make a long story short, here are the instructions on how I was able to do it:
- Whether the incident you are depressed or worried about is large or small, take a minute to examine it, and identify the story you are telling yourself about it. For example, the job you thought you loved has taken a turn for the worse, making you feel upset and unhappy. You might feel upset or depressed because the story you are telling yourself is that you are hopelessly unhappy there, there is nothing you can do to improve the situation, and you can’t leave your job because you will be a failure, and you won’t be able to find anything better.
- Now that you have identified your story, retell it in a way that makes you feel happy. For example, you have become aware that you are no longer happy at your job because you have outgrown it. Your soul is ready to move on to something better, and you will be successful at finding something. You are a smart capable person, and you are ready to make some changes despite conventions or social norms that say you should stick with a “good” job no matter what. Then take some action based on your happy story like looking for a new job or finding a way to move out of the situation you find yourself in at your current job.
- What about worrying about someone else? This can be more difficult to shake because we feel powerless over the poor decision-making or conditions of someone we care about. Again, start by identifying the story you are telling yourself about their situation, then tell yourself a positive story about what is happening to the person. Remind yourself of the positive qualities the person has, and imagine them becoming the best version of themselves.
- This doesn’t mean that you bury your head in the sand, or give yourself permission to ignore a troubling situation. In fact it means to opposite. It means you are brave enough to fully acknowledge the hard truth about something, so that you can clearly see why it is causing you worry or depression. It means you are strong enough to do all you can do to confront the situation, but then trust that what you have done is enough, without torturing yourself until it is resolved. Sometimes there is nothing you can do right away, and in that case you must trust that if you are meant to share words of wisdom or direction, the time will come when you will be made aware that the person is ready to hear you.
- Every time you find yourself worrying about the same thing or feeling depressed about it, remind yourself of your happy story about it again. Your happy story is also actually true! This may be hard to do at first. While you are training your mind to think of happy stories, doing things that demand your complete attention is an effective way to shake your negative stories lose. For example, playing a musical instrument, learning a new craft or skill, or going somewhere new are all ways to distract your worrying tendencies. Yes, it’s OK to do things that make you happy when something worrisome is going on, in fact, it is imperative that you do so.
- Now for the magic: in her book “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World,” best-selling author and Life Coach Martha Beck says that these positive thoughts can actually cause positive outcomes to manifest in real life. International dream guide, author, and scholar Robert Moss also cites examples of the power of conscientiously engaging in the bigger world through our dreams and meditations in his seminars and books. They believe and have experienced a connectivity in the universe between all living things that react to each other and from each other. In fact, just focusing on the big picture of life changes your mood by changing your prospective. Nature is inherently happy, and you can feel that happiness even during the worst times if you take a minute and focus on it.
- The final step is to be open and aware of the positive things that begin to happen once you have told yourself your new happy story and imagined the best outcome in a situation. Make a mental note of each some good thing that happens, this is very important!
This method may be hard at first, as your worries overtake your positive stories. You may have to battle yourself to keep the happy stories coming, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, I promise you. The battle is part of our human evolution as we evolve from a primitive species whose survival depended upon our ability to identify danger quickly. It takes the power of our brains that have evolved over time to stomp out the warnings from our primitive animal, and actually create better living conditions as we imagine the best outcomes and possibilities for all. This is not to be confused with wishing for a particular outcome of a situation, rather it is imagining a positive outcome, letting go of your personal wish for it, and accepting and celebrating the resolution as being the best outcome for all in the big picture of life.