There are people who think you can “choose” to be happy. It’s so not that simple. I can’t change my brain chemistry on a whim. I can’t deny negative feelings because they’re uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean I am helpless or hopeless. I can’t choose a state but I can try to choose a process. I can move between what is possible or not possible with an understanding that our ability is not entirely controllable.
I recently decided instead of saying “self-help”, I’d say “self-awareness”. I may not be able to change my circumstances or erase my emotions but I can look honestly at my life and self-talk to get myself in a more positive state. It won’t erase the overdue bill or checking account. It won’t magically improve my marriage. It won’t heal my illness or other relationships but it will help me breathe! It will remind me that life isn’t all bad. I am not weak or broken. I am worthy where I am NOW not in another place or situation that seems ideal. It is not a “choice” it is an “awareness.”
One path to healing is working to stop the cycle. I get depressed, I get tired, I don’t have any energy so I get stuck and end up depressed. If we disrupt the cycle at any point, we have a chance. I get depressed so I seek out the positive in my life. I get tired and accept my body needs to heal and take a nap without judgement. I don’t have energy to do anything beyond lying in bed so I pray. I move a little or a lot. I look back at any good I accomplished regardless of size. Did I get out of bed? That’s progress. Did I make the bed? I accomplished something today. Did I take a shower? A clean start! Did I clean the kitchen? Now we’re talking!
Sometimes it helps to focus on the positives in our lives _ no matter how big or small. Try thinking about three positives in your life such as 1) I am loved by God. 2) I am worthy right now, in whatever state I’m in. 3) I am TRYING. I am doing the best I can regardless of the success I attain.
I’m not a water person. I get all paranoid that I’m going to drown but I like the drowning metaphor: swim towards the light. When you’re overwhelmed by life look to the light to guide yourself to safety. Look for outstretched hands of those who want to help you. Grab a life-vest. When life is hard and you know you’re going to take a beating, wrap yourself up to ride out the storm. Feel God’s love even in the midst of the struggle. Focus on these truths: 1) You are loved! God loves YOU and there are people in your life that love you even when it feels like no one does. 2) You are not alone. If you can’t rely on friends and family, reach out to a support group or crisis line. Never give up. Turn to those who love you and want to be there for you.
There are positive actions that can help you move out of the darkness and into the light. While it can be easy to get wrapped up in our own pain, looking outward can be very healing. There are groups everywhere: secular or non-secular – that could use a helping hand. Helping others helps in so many ways. It puts your life in perspective and allows you to be grateful for what you have. You’re giving back to the community – making a difference in other’s lives. Helping can do wonders as you realize others struggle too. Not only do you share in their pain, relating to those that are more like you than different, you can offer the support you need to others and draw yourself out of your own headspace. Exercise can provide release to pent up emotions and providing endorphins to improve mood and create a sense of accomplishment. You don’t have to go to a gym or a yoga class (although that can be helpful), just get outside and walk or run. Look around at your surroundings. See the beauty all around you. Another option, if you are able to handle the responsibility, is to get a pet. Find one that you have the ability to properly care for: dogs, cats, fish, gerbils. I’ve seen pets who have made miraculous changes in people’s lives bringing love, companionship, healing, and support. Just don’t give up. Keep trying, keep loving, keep moving forward.