“Be a force of love as often as you can and turn away negative thoughts whenever you feel them surface.” – Wayne Dyer
Can you barely get out of bed in the morning? Do you dread the idea of going anywhere? Are your days spent crying spontaneously? Do you lie on the couch and zone out to reruns of Law & Order? Or, perhaps you can function through the day but feel like you are merely existing and find no joy in anything?
If you are one of the 25 million Americans suffering depression, then you are not alone. But you don’t have to stay miserable. You can be happier. It doesn’t happen by magic, and it won’t happen overnight, but it can and will happen if you want it to.
I do not profess to be a physician or a therapist. I can only tell you about my experience with depression (that was often so bad that I was suicidal) and how over time I went from chronically depressed to at least borderline happy.
Every day I change is a day towards an even happier state of mind and if I can do it then you can too.
The main reason many of us are unhappy is due to what I call “The Trap”. What happens in the trap?
1. Depths of Depression
Depression can be genetic, situational, due to childhood traumas or a combination of those things. Often when you are depressed you don’t even know you are depressed. Depression has become your new normal. You become trapped by the cycle of negativity and sadness.
It is possible you may need medication to stabilize your mood and keep you from breaking down crying every day, all day. If this is going on, seek help from a professional. I was on medication for nearly 10 years and it kept me at a baseline where I could function without wanting to kill myself every day.
Next, you may want to consider a good therapist and I don’t mean your best friend. If you can’t identify what you are depressed about and why are you are depressed you can’t change it. I was in therapy off and on for 20 years until I reached a point where there was nothing more to learn that I couldn’t learn on my own.
2. Depression is clouding your thoughts
When you’re depressed you can’t think clearly. Everything is jumbled in your head. The little voices that exist in your brain tell you bad, bad things. You aren’t pretty enough. You are stupid. Everything that goes wrong is your fault. You can’t succeed. You are nothing. No one loves you. No one cares.
If this is happening try to tell yourself that these thoughts are NOT REALITY. They are false. What you think is not WHO you are.
It doesn’t make sense, but bad thoughts often keep us safe. They keep you locked in a dungeon where you have the key in your pocket, but you’re too scared to venture out and see what might be outside because the world of light can be scarier than the dungeon.
So, you keep thinking bad thoughts because they have become your normal conversation with yourself and you think they are true. You think there cannot be another reality other than what you think.
Over time your brain literally changes due to depression, which in turn influences your thoughts. However, the mind is a powerful thing and you can reverse the cycle and get out of your depression.
3. Your thoughts are influencing your mood
Who can possibly be happy if they think negative, bad, self-effacing thoughts all day long? If you think you are bad or ugly or miserable you will act bad, ugly or miserable.
When you think unhappy thoughts they become part of you and part of who you are. You smile less, you laugh less, you fail to see joy in simple things and you certainly aren’t a lot of fun to be around.
The more you do this, the more depressed you get and it’s a never ending cycle. It isn’t easy to change your thoughts. In fact, it will be very uncomfortable and you might even be kind of pissed or irritated.
I suggest taking a negative thought and turning it into the opposite thought. For example, if you think you are ugly, turn it into “I am beautiful”. You will not believe it. So, write it on a piece of paper in bold letters and stick it on your mirror. Every morning you are required to look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful”.
If you are like me you will likely cringe and want to throw things. But, don’t do it. Sit with the discomfort. Get up the next morning and say it again and again the next day. Start with this one little sentence.
Over time, increase your negative thoughts into positive thoughts and start saying them to yourself. It sounds silly, but over time what was once your normal depressive thought will become a normal happier, more positive thought.
4. Your mood keeps you in a negative cycle
If you stay depressed you stay negative. If you stay negative you stay depressed. The cycle of depression does not change and will not change.
Every little step you take towards having more positive thoughts will push you towards a more positive mood. If you start with 15 minutes per day that you are happy and/or positive it’s a good day. Turn the 15 into 30 and 30 into an hour and so forth.
Getting out of the negative cycle is the same as dieting or exercise. Change a few thoughts every day and slowly they become your new way of thinking. What was once difficult becomes easy, or at least easier. When you started you could only walk two blocks which turned into 5 which turned into a mile which turned into running a marathon.
Everyone starts somewhere. Pick one little thought and change it and slowly increase it little by little. The change will be subtle, but it will come.
5. Negative cycles never produce happiness
Hey, you can stay unhappy and depressed if you want to. But, I’m guessing it really isn’t much fun unless you’re the brilliant, moody artist type that insists moodiness brings about creativity.
Further, the more negative you are the more negativity you will bring into your life. This is the fundamental belief behind the law of attraction. Like attracts like. don’t think anyone wants to go through life attracting negativity and pain.
If you want to be happy you need to change your thinking. Changing your thinking will reduce your levels of depression. Reducing your levels of depression will allow you to think more clearly. Thinking more clearly will allow you to be more positive and see things in a clearer more positive light.
Do not get caught in the Trap of Depressive thought. Everything you think is just that, a thought, not a fact.
Try it for 30 days. Really try it. Be consistent. Be fearless. If I hadn’t changed my thoughts I wouldn’t be here today. I would have let the depression and the negative thoughts take my life. You CAN change.