There are millions of people across the world who suffer from depression. As you read this article there are many, many people who are ending their lives. They are doing so because of the power of this horrific experience. Depression twists our mentality. It lies to us about the nature of our worlds and it eliminates our ability to consider the idea that things can improve. It can be debilitating and all encompassing. It can rip our hearts out and fill our minds with a darkness which is indescribable yet torturous.
Having experienced depression in my life, I understand the feeling of isolation. I understand why it feels like nobody understands what you are going through. It is yet another example of the lie we are told. Our thoughts are so uniquely ours that it distorts our perception of the world and makes us feel like the problems are with us… with where we are, who we are, what we are.
The world is what it is. Good things happen. Bad things happen. Good things happen to us. Bad things happen to us and so on it goes. Our feelings. Our emotions. They lead us to make decisions. Those decisions are often our attempt to change our feelings. Nowadays, however, we often make the mistake of settling for superficial change. We escape from our problems by distraction, by living in our virtual worlds. We let TV transport us away from our own minds. We let social media validate us while simultaneously providing us with a portal to others lives. But neither of these are the answer that we are looking for.
Instead, beating depression begins with realising the lie inherent in the way it works. Whether we call it metaphorically a person, a cloud, a black dog… the reality is that they all have one thing in common… they lie. All your thoughts under depression are like all your thoughts under alcohol… distorted and potentially dangerous. It is imperative to remember that. The biggest problem is that when you experience it, you aren’t necessarily aware that your thoughts are distortions. It is insidious. It knows how to hide behind reason and logic. It is almost as if your brain, taken over by this emotion… is forced to offer you rationale and reasoning to keep you down. The propaganda the feeling feeds to you is what locks you down.
The truth is that beating depression requires five qualities. For each quality, we can ask questions which help us cultivate it.
Vigilance is the art of paying continuous and close attention to your thoughts.
- How am I speaking to myself and what images am I making right now?
- Are they serving me?
Perspective is the art of seeing the same situation from multiple perspectives.
- What is another, more useful way of seeing this situation?
Hope is the ability to imagine things getting better.
- What would happen if everything got better and the future worked out great?
Discipline is the art of doing what you know is best regardless of your feelings at the time.
- What is the most useful thing to do?
- What exactly must I do now?
Grit is the art of picking yourself up and moving forward no matter how many times you get knocked down.
- What can I learn from this?
- What is next?
- How great will it feel when I’ve finally succeeded?
Depression cannot be conquered by positive thinking. It cannot be conquered by simply making your world better. Since it exists in our inner world and determines how we experience the outer world, we must find the resources necessary inside us to make the necessary changes.
Of course, learning the skills and strategies of NLP or CBT or Mindfulness etc. can be extremely useful. Fundamentally, we need to shift how our mind thinks. But for me the starting point begins with the recognition of the lie and the cultivation of these five qualities. The beauty is that to cultivate these five qualities, we just need to ask certain questions.