By now, you probably know that instilling positive thoughts and mantras in our brains can help immensely with our outlook on life. However, we all go through periods of depression from time to time, and it can feel difficult to pull ourselves out of the trenches. In fact, depression affects 350 million people worldwide, and is the leading cause of disability globally. So, how can we combat these feelings and work to overcome depression? (Note: we understand that severe depression might need more serious treatment, however, the ideas presented below act as a way to understand the feelings that might cause depression in the first place).
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself when you feel depressed:
1. Is this true?
First of all, ask yourself if how you feel accurately represents your reality, or if your mind just wants to run the show and blow things out of proportion. Our minds love to come up with the worst case scenario or conjure up ideas that might not really portray our reality, so it’s important to check in with ourselves and ask if how we feel is warranted. For example, if you tell yourself, “I’ll never be good enough,” is that really true? Can you really say that about every situation ever in life, or are you just saying that because of one unfortunate event?
Remember to check in with your feelings often, and try to avoid the black and white thinking that often sinks people deeper into the hands of depression.
2. Is there any possibility it’s true?
Ask yourself even further if how you feel or what you think might be true. Let’s continue with our previous example and consider all the possibilities. If we really were never good enough, could we accomplish anything in life? Could we hold a job, go to school, take care of our kids, keep up a household, or have relationships with others? Most of us have one of these things going for us, which means that we have the capability to manage it effectively. Things might not always go according to plan, and we might have bad days here and there, but we can life our lives and accomplish something in the process most of the time.
All of us on this planet are simply trying to survive, so don’t beat yourself up. Just because you have one bad day does not mean you should give in to the negative thoughts in your head.
3. If I consider this a possibility, how does it make me feel?
So, if you consider not being good enough for anything in life, how exactly do you feel? Does it make you feel good, or bad? If it’s the latter, then why even put this thought into your head? We should attempt to have as many positive thoughts as possible to foster a healthy mindset and a fruitful life, so the next time you notice your thoughts running away with themselves, bring things into perspective a bit. If your thoughts don’t make you feel good, why even allow them a place in your mind any longer? You don’t have to fight them, but you shouldn’t give them any more attention than they deserve. Acknowledge them, let them flow through you, but then replace that thought with a more positive one, and notice how uplifted you feel.
Negative thoughts cannot result in a positive life, so try to expel them as quickly as possible so they don’t start to rule your whole life.
4. If I stay in this feeling for a few moments, what might happen?
Notice how it feels to stick with that thought or feeling for more than a few seconds. If you start to notice your mood spiraling downward, you probably don’t need to keep giving attention to those thoughts and feelings. Depression can sometimes be overcome by simply focusing our attention more on the positives than the negatives. If we continually give our focus to the gloom and doom, then of course we will fall into a state of depression.
This whole process is simply about becoming more self-aware, and not allowing our thoughts to control us. If you’d like to read more about how exactly mindfulness can change your life, read our article regarding that here.