In this article I will give you a process for getting yourself out of negative emotional states. These states can range from sadness, anger, grief, apathy, guilt, shame, or severe depression. The process is the same for getting yourself out of any negative state, not just temporarily, but permanently.
Depressed people often seem to have good reasons for feeling down, and from the outside looking in their reasons may appear perfectly valid. If you are dealing with financial scarcity, health issues, or unwanted challenges, then any reasonable person may look at your life and say “your life is depressing.”
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by saying your problems aren’t that bad. Actually I imagine your situation could be downright awful, giving you every right to feel depressed. I can actually relate to what you may be going through because I have been there myself. I know how horrible it is to want to kill yourself because you feel so bad all the time, to have a life filled with negative results, and to feel powerless to change any of it. I will share my own personal stories about my depression later in the article.
If you are depressed, you have my empathy and compassion. But more importantly I have a solution for you that I would like to share. My belief is that you are smart enough to know there are no shallow quick fixes for what you are going through, but there is a workable solution. You will not be depressed forever. This solution will work if you take the time to understand and apply it, using whatever energy you are able to muster. This isn’t an all or nothing solution, so even a partial implementation will give you partial results. Best of all, you don’t even have to take any direct physical action. You can do the whole thing lying motionless in bed if you want.
The hidden gift of your situation is that once you permanently overcome your depression, you will be able to use your experience to help many other people. So as difficult as it is to endure right now, you may find that you look back on what you are going through and feel immense gratitude. This is because one day you may look back on these times as a tremendous gift. This has certainly been true for me.
This quote from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet contains some deep truths:
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
Is the flute that sooths your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep down into your heart and you shall find it as only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
The Real Cause of Depression
Let me be very direct, you are not depressed because of the situation you are going through. You are depressed because of the ATTENTION that you give to your situation. I’m not saying your life doesn’t have bad circumstances at the moment, you may be going through the worst circumstances of your life, and if that is the case – you have my compassion. But your circumstances aren’t the REAL source of your depression. Negative circumstances can only cause depression when you place your attention on them. If you withdraw your attention from your circumstances, then you will not feel depressed because of them. You have the power to make your circumstances powerless to affect you.
Consider a simple example. Suppose you are on trial for a criminal charge and you are depressed because you believe you will get a criminal record, lose all job opportunities, and live a poor and meaningless life. Add some anxiety into the equation as well because of the uncertainty of the situation. The court case will only depress you and make you anxious while you are thinking about it. If you think about something else that makes you happy, something positive in your life, then at least (in that exact moment anyway) you won’t feel depressed. So it’s not your conflict with the law that is depressing you in this example, it’s only you noticing the conflict with the law (and not wanting it in your life) that depresses you and brings about stress and anxiety.
Another example, let’s suppose you are $10,000 in debt and see no way out of it. You notice that it’s a struggle to pay your bills every month, and you have more month left then you do money. And that makes you feel stressed out because you don’t know how you are going to deal with it. Also, you feel depressed because you don’t have the money it takes to enjoy life. You feel poor. But is it the lack of money that makes you feel poor? Or do you only feel poor when you pay attention to the fact that you don’t have the money you desire? When you are watching an awesome TV show, or a great movie, or talking to a buddy, you totally forget that you are depressed, don’t you? But if you see someone enjoying something that costs money and decide to contrast it with your own situation, then your depression will quickly return.
I know this may sound too simple and perhaps useless so far, but just humor me for a moment. I think you can agree that you only feel depressed when you pay attention to negative circumstances such as your lack of money, lack of relationships, or lack of good health. But here is the key point: Your circumstances are NOT the true source of your depression. The true source of your depression is your attention…..specifically your habit of putting your attention onto things you don’t like. In the case of chronic depression, it’s very likely that all the shit you don’t want in your life is exactly what is going on right now. So even the simple act of noticing the situations in your life is enough to make you feel depressed.
Understanding the Insidious Trap of Depression
This is why depression is such a tough trap to get out of. Once you sink so low to the level where you aren’t getting what you want, and you keep paying attention to shitty circumstances, your depression will actually become self- reinforcing. You are seriously stuck.
You will see in moment that the mistake you are making that is causing your depression is so devious that you will think you are being intelligent, when you are actually being quite dumb. You probably think it’s common sense that you should observe your circumstances, notice what you are getting, and react within reason. And you would be wrong about that one my friend. If you are depressed then this is perhaps the worst strategy you could possibly use. I know what I’m saying sounds totally counterintuitive, but could this be why MILLIONS of people are going through depression? Common sense is part of the trap that causes depression. And believe me, common sense is why so many brilliant people like you can get stuck in long term depression and even commit suicide. Their best attempts to use intellect to reason their way out of depression only digs them a deeper hole. The more you struggle to reason your way out of a depression, the worse your depression will become.
After endless frustration trying to reason their way out of depression, many people will look for relief through meds, drugs, alcohol, TV, video games, friends, or other habits that lower awareness. Of course none of those things solve the underlying negative circumstances. They usually make it worse. You must face your problems because turning away from them will not help you improve your life one bit. Turing away from your problems is a surefire way to remain in despair.
The Solution to Depression
The solution to depression is actually very simple, but it’s totally counter intuitive for most people (unless you understand the law of attraction). The solution is to withdraw your attention from what depresses you and place it on what makes you feel VERY VERY good! Now mind you, I understand that if you have been depressed severely, and for a very long time, it’s possible that nothing in your life makes you feel good. Your whole life may be unpleasant from top to bottom. So in that case you need to take your attention away from your environment and use your IMAGINATION! In your mind’s eye you need to construct totally imaginary circumstances that makes you feel good when you think about them. Then spend more time focusing on your imagined circumstances then on your external reality.
This may sound like you are trying to escape, but you aren’t trying to escape. Your goal is to try and build new circumstances in your imagination that you like. Picture yourself being prosperous, having great relationships, great health, a great career and much more.
Now at first this may be very very difficult, but don’t worry. You will improve with practice. Obviously you will still need to meet your basic needs and deal with life necessary demands. You will also have to soldier on and deal with your problems as best as you can. But the key here is to only devote the bare ass minimum amount of attention to external reality. Give your problems no more attention then necessary to get your head above water. Spend as much time as possible withdrawing into your imagination.
In your imagination you are free to do exactly what you want. There are ZERO LIMITS to what you can imagine. Think the thoughts that make you feel happiest. Imagine them as real in the present moment and imagine them for the sake of enjoying the pleasure of the present experience. Build your imaginary dream car, your imaginary home, imaginary relationship, and give yourself superpowers to save the world!
Be very patient with yourself. If you notice that you are worrying about your problems, just keep going back to your positive mental creations and expand them. I recommend constructing locations first. The more you think about them, the more detail you can add. Keep modifying them to make improvements.
How Does this Resolve Depression?
As you take attention away from negative external circumstances and refocus on positive imaginary thoughts, you will spend more time feeling good then you will feeling bad, so your depression will soon lift. The more you shift your thoughts, the faster your depression will lift. This is a rather obvious result of spending more time thinking about what you want compared to thinking about what you don’t want.
“The emotional mind can’t tell the difference between a real thought and an imagined one.”
Now it’s great to feel good again, but what about the negative circumstances you are experiencing? Even though you are feeling better, you may still have real life problems. Don’t worry this approach will help you improve your circumstances as well.
Your situations will improve in 2 ways. First, because you’ll be feeling better, you will be more motivated to take action that can directly help you. Depression is disempowering, but positive emotions are empowering. So you’re far more likely to take positive action to get yourself out of debt when you’re feeling good compared to when you feel depressed. Depressed people dwell on problems, but as your depression lifts, you’ll begin to think about solutions.
Secondly when you are feeling good, you will bring about better results thanks to the law of attraction. These results will come about almost effortlessly. The mechanism by which this works is the law of vibrational correspondence. And I have personally witnessed the law of attraction work so many times, that I will never have my doubts about it again. When you think about your desires and feel good about them, you attract it to you in ways that can’t be explained as a result of direct action. You will become very lucky when you feel good.
“When you feel good, good things happen.” – Melody Fletcher (Author of Deliberate Receiving)
By virtue of your direct action and the law of attraction put together, your depressing circumstances will make a total 180 degree turn for the better. For this to work you must think about what you want AND feel good about it. Your desire is like Kijiji, you can feel good about it!
My Real life Example
This is a true story about my journey, and my recovery was by no means final as I have been through 5 major depressive episodes. But each time I got depressed I was able to turn it around.
At the age of 18 the world was my oyster, I was the Army Cadet Sergeant Major, I had top grades in school. The problem was I was in love with a girl I couldn’t let go of during my high school days who lived in my building a couple years back. On September 13th 2012 I wrote this girl a letter, gave her a book and some scratch tickets. I was manic at the time and my decisions were costly.
On October 11th after the police had concluded their investigation I was charged with harassment. And suddenly, life as I knew it was gone. I could forget about having a great career, I could forget about having money, and I thought I was relegated to being a bum for the rest of my life. I walked out of the police station after I got charged with the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. To add insult to injury, my cadet career had just 2 months left. Also, the NHL was in lockout thanks to the league and the players association being unable to strike a deal. So there was not even hockey to distract me. I started to feel so depressed that I stayed home from school, and I didn’t do my homework.
I started to find any form of work to be overwhelming. But when I showed up to cadets on Wednesday night, for that one time every week I wasn’t depressed. This taught me that depression is the result of focus, not on the circumstances itself.
By the time January rolled around, my lawyer informed me that chances were excellent the charges could be dropped in exchange for a peace bond. Also, my cadet career ended (which was a transition) and at the same time hockey came back. So when I started attending Sens games again, I spent most of my time thinking about the Ottawa Senators, and not about my charges. With one week left in the semester I caught up on a whole 3 months worth of work on my business and entrepreneurship course. I passed with flying colours and I did my business project on opening a gym. I completed the project by the due date and aced my exam. It was because the Sens won their first 3 games, 4-1, 4-0, and 3-1 that I felt so good and had the strength to make that push needed to pass my course.
And then after my business course was over, it dawned on me; who cares if I get a criminal record?
If I become my own boss it really doesn’t matter because I’ll be self- employed. I won’t need to submit a background check to an employer. The business and entrepreneurship course was a sign from the universe that I was born to be an entrepreneur. It’s in running your own business, that your potential is LIMITLESS. Now almost 5 years later I’m a personal development coach, living a life I could have never dreamed possible back then.
All I had was 2 high school courses left to finish up, and then by June I was done high school and playing my first ever season of competitive ball hockey.
Over the summer of 2013 I focused on personal development and decided my PASSION was coaching and helping other people reach their full potential.
Now in 2017 I’m doing just that.
What is my secret do you ask?
NEVER GIVE UP!
And I never will.
From Chronic Depression to Lifelong Joy
Do you realize that your freedom is an amazing gift? Regardless of your physical freedom, you always have mental freedom. You have the freedom to hold any thought you can possibly imagine – so free that you can turn your life into a depressing hell if you fail to understand your power….or into a joy filled heaven if you can master this ability!
Are you still hurting yourself by thinking about what you don’t want? Even the mere act of observing and noticing the presence of what you don’t want in your life can trap you into a negative state. Turn your attention away from such thoughts, and concentrate on what you do want, even if your only viable option is to go into your imagination. Let your imagination become your private refuge of positive thought. Use your creative imagination to get you into a state of feeling good, regardless of your external circumstances. This will activate the law of attraction, and it won’t be long before your external reality improves to reflect your thoughts. Eventually your circumstances will become so good that simply noticing your life will make you feel amazing. Instead of the downward spiral of depression, you will be enjoying the upward spiral of Joy!
If you want to change your outer world, you must first change your inner world.
I want to give credit to Steve Pavlina; this work was inspired by his article called Overcoming Depression. I followed his thoughts in this article, but I explained them in the words that I would have used and I used my story instead of his story as the example.