Depressive thinking makes you feel down, sad and blue. “What’s the use, I can’t do it anyway.” “I’m selfish because I feel so sorry for myself.” I’m dumb as a rock because I dig in my heels and refuse to change.” Depressive thoughts like these kill your self-esteem.
DEPRESSION NUMBS YOUR POSITIVE FEELINGS
Technically speaking, depression numbs your positive feelings by magnifying your negative thinking. It’s a vicious cycle: Negative thoughts make you feel worse, and the worse you feel, the more negative thoughts you entertain without screening them…and it all becomes enough to make you scream. As you magnify your faults, you stifle your social skills and confidence. Then you will feel shy, cautious about change, lonely, unwanted, unsure of yourself and unmindful of your positive goals.
MAGNIFY YOUR STRENGTHS
Here’s how you can pre-empt those depressive feelings and negative thinking cycles:
1. PROMOTE SELF-TALK THAT PERMITS CHANGE.
You are not your depression-you are a human being. Put up a fight when you are feeling defeated by doom-and-gloom thinking. Challenge yourself with these catchy phrases: “So what’s your point?” “No one can drive me crazy without my permission.” “I’m 50% co-responsible for any mess I find myself in.” “I do get mad but I don’t get even, because getting even just puts me behind.” By the way, do you give yourself the right to make positive choices even when you feel negative?
2. BECOME FRIENDS WITH YOUR HEALTHY ANGER.
Let your anger move you to take positive action instead of keeping you in tears. Do you really need anyone else’s approval to live the kind of life you wish to live? Don’t let negative anger make you prove you’re a perfect or super-strong person, criticize you forever for past failures or seduce you into thinking that the magic pill will be found to make you feel perfectly fine. By the way, do you believe that you are still a good person when you feel bad?
3. TURN DOWN PERFECTIONISM PRESSURES.
Stop constantly putting your flaws and blunders under a magnifying glass for critical checking. Have you noticed that trying to be perfect is never good enough? Do you compare yourself unfavorably to others and then wonder why you come up lacking? Do you mistakenly think that if someone has what you lack that they’re a better person? Come on now. One root of anger is to take anger out at yourself for failing to live up to the expectations of others or yourself. By the way, what would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly right to start with?
4. SET DAILY TIME LIMITS TO YOUR SUFFERING.
You manage your mood better when you put a time limit on how long you will obsess about an issue that you can’t really control. Set aside 10 minutes at the same time every day to really feel bad without guilt or remorse. Refuse to stay “down” too long before you try something new to feel better. Forgive yourself for past mistakes by forging new paths today. Don’t fret if you feel worse when you do something that is new and good for your prized relationships and for yourself. By the way, have you written down your positive goals and sent them to yourself in an email?
5. HAVE THE COURAGE TO LIKE YOURSELF AS YOU ARE.
Have the courage to like and love yourself just because you are who you happen to be on this journey right now. You do matter. You matter simply because you do. Who you are will always be more important than what you accomplish. Put your relationship priorities straight: God first, self second, your beloved third, your children fourth, work fifth, friends/co-communicators sixth, community last. By the way, are you able to accept imperfections?
6. DO WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T WANT TO.
Realize that many blue feelings stem from relationship distress or problems that have gone unaddressed. The No. 1 killjoy in life is the failure to communicate, and poor communication inhibits you and your partner from making needed relationship changes. Since prolonged depression can be a form of self-punishment or guilt for imagined crimes, feel deserving of-and give yourself-good treatment. By the way, are you making an investment in learning positive communication skills to keep your relationship alive even when you don’t have time to?
7. WORRY NOT.
Feeling down, sad and blue is a normal part of the human experience. If you’re tired of feeling tired, the technology exists to beat the blues. Most major health insurance plans cover counseling services for this. Expect to feel much better within four to six meetings with coaching on how to talk some sense to your self for a change. After all, you weren’t born to be a worrywart but to be a winner. By the way, do you magically believe that worrying keeps the sky from falling or the other shoe from dropping?
8. DON’T WORRY ABOUT SPREADING YOUR DEPRESSION AROUND.
Feeling down isn’t a flu that you can pass on to a passerby. People who care for you want to help you heal but you alone must accomplish the feat. Although it is true that you can make someone feel good or bad by what you say or do, pass on the “It always is my fault” guilt trip for a change of scenery. Playing the blame game drains the battery of your life energy and leaves no victors. By the way, can you stop putting yourself down for feeling down?
WHY ALLOW DEPRESSION TO ZAP YOUR VITALITY?
Why allow depression to zap your vitality, erase your will to live or remove your capability to persist against great odds? You can beat depression by disrupting the negative inner chatter that wears on your nerves and frays the patience of all who care.
Dennis E. O’Grady, Psy.D. is a communications psychologist from Dayton, Ohio, and the author of TALK TO ME: Communication Moves To Get Along with Anyone.