There are a lot of things I’m certain I don’t know about depression…but I do know this:
I deeply care about helping if I can and I am willing to confront the truth. And from my own personal experience with depression and from what I’ve witnessed in many others, I think a belief in something that is not true is often holding people apart from joy.
This morning I got this simple email:
I am so depressed today because of my daughter’s treatment of me, my self esteem is at zero low.
Do you notice anything wrong with that statement?
If so, maybe you don’t need to hear this. But I think it’s an important reminder for everyone.
If you don’t see anything false in that statement above…then definitely tune in with me for a minute right now. This is important.
Here’s my bubbling of thought that gurgled to the surface in response to that email:
“I’m sorry to hear you are feeling depressed today.
I’m glad you reached out. I think it’s important that I point out something you said because it reveals a belief that appears to be holding you apart from joy and freedom.
After I read your statement my mind was flooded with thoughts about the importance of understanding where our feelings come from.
Please forgive me if all you really wanted is a hug and to feel understood. I do understand how you feel. It hurts bad to feel depressed. Feel free to stop reading here and just know that I care and I definitely hear you.
If you’d like to also know the thoughts steamrolling around in my head…read on. This understanding has served me immensely…I hope a brief discussion of it serves you too.
You said, “I am so depressed today because of my daughter’s treatment of me.”
That is actually not true.
I know, that may sound strange for me to tell you that. I’m sure it felt true when you wrote it. But it can’t possibly be true, because outside circumstances do not have power to cause depression or any other feeling within us.
You are not depressed because of your daughter’s treatment of you.
You are depressed because of the things you are thinking about your daughter’s treatment of you.
As long as you seek outside causes to explain your feelings you will consistently suffer discouragement, depression, and out-of-control despairing feelings to one degree or another.
The truth is nobody outside of you can control what you decide to do with your thoughts.
The truth is your feelings are always directly caused by your thinking.
While you certainly aren’t in direct control of every thought that pops into your head, you absolutely can choose to change what you think about and how you think about things.
When you embrace, accept, and remember that your feelings are caused by your thinking and your thinking alone, you will be more free.
The truth literally sets you free.
Often, just realizing that our pain is solely caused by our thinking is enough to release us. Because we stop looking frantically for reasons “out there” for why we are feeling so bad.
You are not a victim to anyone or anything.
If someone else’s treatment of you is the cause of your depression, then how could any of us possibly explain Viktor Frankl experiencing joy and a deep sense of meaning and gratitude while being nearly starved to death on a diet of fish heads floating in a cup of dirty water while being tortured repeatedly and abused for years as he witnessed people dying all around him in WWII concentration camps?
It would not be hard to find dozens or even hundreds of other examples of people who felt peace despite the horrendous treatment of others toward them.
I’ve personally experienced euphoric joy many times right in the midst of extreme bowel pain that lasted for months.
Our circumstances don’t dictate our experience in life, only our thoughts do.
Let go of the need to find a cause outside and just sit back and observe your thoughts. Write them down if it helps you observe. Take a look at what you are thinking about and you will see more clearly why you feel depressed. (Which thoughts are causing your pain).
Then take little steps to consciously think something that feels just a little better. Writing that thought down helps a lot.
Then keep doing that every single day. Focus on that, instead of focusing your energy on everything out there that you previously thought was “making” you depressed.
Only you have the power to change your thinking…and you can.
When you think better thoughts, you will feel better. That’s just how it works.
You are not a victim to life or anyone.
P.S. – I realize this is likely a hard pill to swallow. Taking full responsibility for our entire life is not common and not easy. Be patient in allowing yourself to work through the inevitable struggle your mind will face with this. It takes time and effort to build the habit of not automatically blaming outside things for our feelings.
P.P.S – “He made me so mad!” “That makes me so sad:(“ “She just ruined my day.” These are all examples of lies that are readily accepted in society and in our own minds as truths. The first step to freedom is to acknowledge what is true and what is false and face it directly.
P.P.P.S – Ok, last one I promise: Nobody can “make” you feel anything. Your feelings are yours to direct. If it feels like somebody said something that “made you mad” and there was nothing you could do to not feel mad, it is still your own issue.
You got mad because of your underlying beliefs and thoughts about what was said…not because of anything anyone else said. Notice the anger, it’s perfectly fine to feel that way. Then use it as a window into your own thoughts. Life is so much more fun when we take ownership of our feelings instead of handing over the controls to others.”
What do you think?
Come tell us your thoughts in the TAL Family Facebook group…I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Make today amazing!