What you believe about yourself is what you get. That’s true in depression, and true in life generally. The kind of energy you put out comes back to you.
It’s the same for me. I’m only now really understanding it, after having depression for 36 years.
The key word is beliefs. Depression convinces us of negative things, as if they’re facts. Then those negative things come true, and we say, “I knew it. That’s just typical.”
Turning our depression around requires turning around our beliefs – and having plenty of help and support to do so. I’m still working on mine.
Beliefs are not wishful thinking or hopes. We can’t wish depression away nor “cure” it with the snap of somebody’s fingers. We have to work to change what we believe – deep down in our core.
The self-fulfilling prophecy
If you tell yourself nobody understands, or nobody can help, or that it’s all hopeless, you’re right every time, aren’t you? Trust me, it’s not just your depression that makes bad things happen. You’re not jinxed, either. Belief is what does it.
Depression makes you believe awful things: that you’re unworthy, that you’re alone, that nobody cares, that you’re unlovable, that you suck, that you screw up, that you deserve bad things, that everyone else is an asshole, that there’s no point trying, that things will keep going wrong, and that it’s typical for this shit to happen to you. They’re very powerful beliefs. They can feel unshakeable. And they have a profound impact on your well-being, physically and psychologically.
This is where you experience a loop, a vicious cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Bad things happen… prompting you to believe negative ideas… causing and worsening your depression… and thus keeping you believing negative ideas and having negative experiences.
You have to create a new and better self-fulfilling prophecy.
You are the creator of your reality.
You can’t change what has happened. But you can change your beliefs. You can change YOU.
Is this that “positive thinking” crock of shit again?
I know, I know. You see those annoying “glass is half full” positive thinkers who tell you how great it is and you want to tear their eyes out. Everything seems to go their way. You tell yourself that their positive attitude works for them, but can’t ever work for you.
That’s because you don’t believe it. I’m not blaming you here. I’m in the same boat. You might have tried positive thinking and mantras, but they haven’t worked… because you don’t believe. Same for me.
Belief is everything.
You must persist
Have you tried changing your depressed mindset and ended up back at square one in the doldrums? Of course you have! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had a depressive episode and yelled out that all the treatment, help and work for my depression has been bullshit or that I feel cheated.
Maybe you try telling yourself positive things and nothing changes. Maybe things even get worse. It makes you want to give up. It’s because you still believe the negative stuff. You’re still convinced. The positive thoughts are conflicting with the beliefs that you cling to at the deepest level.
With repetition and persistence, you can change your beliefs. It just takes time and repetition. Your depression beliefs became entrenched through time and repetition, so it stands to reason that your journey to a better place needs the same conditions. One or two therapy sessions will not undo years of depression.
I’ve been working at changing my beliefs for two years. I’m still at it. It’s a process.
You have to really WANT to change
So do I. This week has been tough for me. I’ve felt heavy, gloomy, tired, with a big dose of anxiety and tension thrown in. Then something in my head said strongly, “No more. I am not going to let depression rule me. I know that I am strong enough. I won’t be a slave to it any longer.”
Then a phone call came that sparked off my anxiety again. I thought I might descend into the gloom and negativity again.
I’m fighting it. I’m determined. I’ve had enough of the old beliefs, the old ways, the old patterns. I know that old pathway and where it leads. I want something better.
How about you?
OK, we’ve done the easy part: talking about what we need to do. Actually doing it is the hard part.
Sorry, there’s no shortcut. You have to work and work, again and again.
“Eliminate the mindset that ‘I can’t. I can’t do pull ups.’ Forget ‘I can’t.’ Say, ‘I presently struggle with…’ And if you keep that mindset then, over the course of time, someone whose dream was to do two or three could turn into 20 and more.”
– Tony Horton, P90X
Start doing things the way you want. Here’s a list of ideas. You need to do them in clusters, not just one-offs.
- Have help and support. Nobody rises from depression on their own. And don’t give in to that belief that nobody cares. Reach out to family, friends, mental health professionals, teachers, colleagues, help lines, and so on. If you must apologize to somebody or mend fences, do it. Don’t let depression keep you believing that they’ll never forgive you – that’s a negative belief about you, not them.
- Talk to professionals. Yes, I know this repeats something from the point above. It’s that important.
- Get to the root cause of your depression. Find a way to release it. It’s about completing the grieving process. You are likely stuck in one step of it.
- If you are prescribed medication, take it. It’s not a cure. It simply helps you feel more normal and stable, which in turn can assist you in changing your beliefs – if you work at it.
- Say positive mantras 200 times a day. For months or years.
- Decide that you want something better and won’t be bowed.
- Know that setbacks occur. Never give up.
- Meditate. Calm your mind and allow the better thoughts to flow. Remember it takes repetition to change beliefs. Set a time of day to meditate. Go on Insight Timer and listen to hundreds of guided meditations. I’m finding them very helpful.
- Exercise in some way.
- Go for walks in the fresh air.
- Eat better. Avoid junk food, alcohol, and other drugs.
- Drink water.
- Read Claim Your Power by Mastin Kipp. It’s a life changer.
- Start a gratitude journal. Gratitude is a very powerful transformational energy. Just list a few things each day that you are grateful for.
Seem like a lot? Maybe not. Many of them take barely any time. But what’s your alternative? Continue the old beliefs?
Battle the frustration
You will experience pushback from your old beliefs and your depression. Keep going – with support! It’s a continuous journey. There’s a payoff for changing your beliefs for the better.
When you least feel like it is when you need it most.
Remember, you create your reality. Don’t look for happiness outside yourself.
There are no shortcuts. You have to just work at it – with support.
I’m with you, my friend. I share your feelings. I’ve had so many setbacks. But I just have to keep at it. Because the old pathway sucks. A lot.
I want something better. And I will have it.
As the old commercials for Pantene said: “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.”
Make your beliefs amazing.
You can do it.