depression

A quick guide to working with depression

Running your own business can be highly rewarding yet stressful at the same time. Even more so now with you know what going on!.

But what if you’ve been battling with depression along the way? If you’ve had to face this you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve got deadlines to meet, clients you want to deliver your absolute best for and a mountain of other tasks to get done. But today you’ve woken up with a cheese helmet of gloom on your head, blocking out any potential joys of life as your mind churns out the usual repetitive deluge of existential waffle.

Now before I go on, disclaimer time: I’m not an expert on this stuff, but I have had my battles with this along the way at a very deep and painful level so I’d like to share something with you that might just help.

Tony Robbins (Say I) take on depression is that it can be caused by this whole idea of a blueprint that we have for our lives. “This is how it was supposed to be”, we proclaim to ourselves.

What I noticed about my own journey is that there was a very clear defining line of before and after. What I expected for my life and what actually happened.

An example, being able to treat my dad for all the good he did once I was in a place to do so, but he died before I could (just one example of many and you’ll no doubt have yours).

So with the theme of ‘before (what you was expecting) and after’ (how things turned out) lays a series of thoughts, ideas and emotions that can close you off from life (depression).

Before and after can only exist on the timeline of your life. The thing is, we often allow those events and the stories we tell ourselves to block out all what is good in our lives – we become unbalanced and drawn to focus on our pain.

Regret, if only, why and so on. Often it’s not just the events that happened but the consequences of those events that are difficult to overcome.

Here’s an idea that popped into my mind last week and it seems like it’s sticking.

What if we split our life timeline into themes. So we have a multitude of timelines that allow us to separate out the painful experiences and outcomes to enable us to see the good stuff in our lives.

Everything is cause and effect, sometimes a painful experience leads to a good outcome and other times, what you thought would be a good thing ends up being a source of regret and pain.

Exercise time.

Draw out several straight lines with varying theme names, starting with the year you was born on the left and the current year at the end, So you could put the following:

* Pain and Regret (everything from childhood to now) – IMPORTANT: if you feel totally overwhelmed then something on this timeline may need addressing with a professional or a close friend.

Then positive timelines that you could genuinely be happy about if you wanted to. It’s these aspects that we can often neglect if we focus too much on the pain timeline.

* Health (Maybe you still have good health)
* Career (The progress you HAVE made instead of where you could be)
* Relationships (Family members still alive and well, the people you met on your journey)

Time to get metaphorical.

Now imagine all those timelines as a 4 lane motorway (including the hard shoulder!) on your journey through life. Switching lanes is not to deny the past, your pain or your regrets. You can still acknowledge the ‘pain lane’, but you don’t have to stay there and end up building an identity around it.

Every now and then, anniversaries, reminders etc may pull you back in. But know, with the right tools, you can shift into any of the other lanes at any given time where progress (a cornerstone of joy) can be made. If those lanes are scarce you can work to build them up, creating a brighter future for yourself and others.

So try to stop looking in the rear view mirror for a moment at what is behind you, and spend a few moments observing what else is around.

You may have heard the phrase “Stay in your lane!” – well…you do have a choice. Hope this helped in some way.

Pete

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