I’m starting to not enjoy my life anymore. I have no friends, no one to talk to that actually understands me, I hate the way I look… my body, my hair… and I just hate myself. I walk around with my head low almost every day.
I feel like I do nothing right, I’m a failure, unwanted, unneeded, and all around I just don’t feel like myself or a person anymore.
All the things I’ve enjoyed doing, I don’t enjoy anymore. I used to love going shopping, drawing, listening to music, and just being myself. Now, I can’t get myself to get up and be active or go anywhere. I’m not gaining weight really or anything, but I’d like to be more active that’s for sure….
I just don’t have motivation to be myself anymore or do anything. I go to work and that’s probably about it. I don’t have a life at all whatsoever, and it is because of my previous abusive relationship.
What do I do to gain happiness again? I have none…
-Stuck in “FML” Mode
Dear “Stuck in ‘FML’ Mode,”
Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays… Lol. Just kidding. No need to throw your computer, haha. In all seriousness, I’m so glad you asked this question. It’s not only a problem most, if not all, of us have dealt with from time to time, but it’s one that’s often met with a lot of stock, BS, internet answers like “Sounds like you might be clinically depressed,” “Just get out there and start doing stuff!” and “Stop thinking of yourself and start thinking of others. Go volunteer!” And while those answers are potentially helpful at other times, if you’re anything like me, you’ve found them to be completely useless in your “darkest hour.”
Furthermore, since I was only able to show you how I dealt with this type of depression in “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols,” I’m grateful for the opportunity to elaborate on what has helped me get out of similar funks in the past, and finally get to the point where I never get “stuck” in them again. So let’s get to it, shall we?
To begin with, I’m just gonna give it to you straight. The only way to rid yourself of depression, or any other “negative” emotion for the most part, is to embrace it. “What the? How come?” Because when you feel depressed, etc. nothing has gone wrong, but your thinking that something has is the primary thing causing you to overstay your welcome and stay “stuck in its grip.”
Still confused? Okay, great, because I’m itching to break this down, (without writing a whole book on the topic, of course). After all, knowledge is power; and in order for me to help you control your emotional experience I must first relay that: (1) Depression is just another emotion/feeling, and (2) all emotions/feelings are tied to your thoughts, (i.e. things you tell yourself about what you’re observing).
Additionally, if you have a soul, and feeling anything, (even if it’s numbness), is a good indicator that you do – okay, let’s just say that you do – you should also know that (3) your feelings, both “good” and “bad,” will alert you to whether or not the thought you’re currently thinking is in alignment/agreement with your soul’s beliefs. It does that so you have the opportunity to live out your life according to your soul’s deepest desires. (And don’t worry, even if you can’t remember what they are, your soul/inner being does, which is why people often say stuff like, “Deep down I know [blank]…”).
So, what does that all mean for you? Well, when you think a thought that your inner being/soul agrees with it’ll say “true,” and that resonation will cause you to feel good. When you think a thought that your inner being/soul doesn’t agree with, it’ll say “false” and that discordance will cause you to feel bad. You simply can’t think thoughts counter to what your “deep down,” inner being/soul thinks about the same thing and feel good.
“Why?” Man, you have a lot of questions. Because your soul’s ultimate desire is to feel good. It’s actually why we do or want anything, tbh. We think doing or having it/him/her will make us feel better in some way or another (including – earmuffs kids – doing not-so-safe stuff like drugs at certain times). For whatever reason, your soul just wants you to feel good.
Consequently, anytime you think a thought that doesn’t support your ultimate goal of feeling good, you disconnect yourself from your inner being/soul’s agenda, and you receive an alert for that disconnect in the form of a “negative” emotion like depression, anger, resentment, numbness, etc. In that way your feelings serve as an “emotional guidance system” for your deepest desire of joy; and, “Stuck in FML Mode,” your current feeling of depression is simply a sign that your “emotional guidance system” is working perfectly.
“Yay?” you say. No worries. There’s more. Now that you got the (painful) message from your inner being that you’re thinking all sorts of stuff it doesn’t agree with, you’re wondering how long you have to go around feeling shitty, right? Well, the answer to that is as long as you keep thinking shitty – (I mean “un-seconded by your inner being”) – thoughts.
“You mean I can’t just go around hating how I look, feeling like I do nothing right, and that no one gives a shit about me, and feel good?” you ask. Nope. Well, not as long as your inner being/soul has a different opinion. Whenever you have an “off” thought your inner being’s contrasting thought will sound the alarm in the form of emotional discomfort, and if you want it to go away you’ll have to find a way to slow the momentum of the negative thought train, and begin to turn it around in a positive direction. And that, my friend, requires opening up to thoughts that your inner being can get on board with (no pun intended).
In your case, the good news is that you’re already on the path to “seeing in color” again, as you’ve already accomplished the first step in turning the train around, which is to care about how you feel. For most of us we often just get tired of feeling crappy, but sometimes there are other motivators, like wanting to be able to be there for someone else. No matter the case, you have to value how you feel in order to feel better, and you inquiring on how to do so confirms that you’ve already achieved that step.
Then, you have two routes. If you’re up for being aggressive, you can actively work through your “negative,” inaccurate-from-your-soul’s-point-of-view thoughts with exercises like those found in Byron Katie’s method called “The Work.” There you challenge individual thoughts with questions like “Is it true?” “Can I absolutely know that it’s true?” “How do I react/what happens when I believe that thought?” and “Who would I be without that thought?”
However, you can also decide to just relax and think broader, slightly better thoughts. In your case, thoughts that work here will be one’s that entertain or make room for your inner being’s apparent belief that: you do have friends out in the world, even if you aren’t aware of them yet; you can be understood, even if it’s primarily by yourself; your body, hair, and the way you look are fine, after all, they’ve done their job perfectly in helping you experience life on this planet; you do plenty of things right, including allowing others to feel less alone by sharing how you feel with the world; and your alot-has-to-go-right-for-you-to-exist presence here is enough proof that you are wanted and needed, and as time goes by it will become clearer to you as to why.
Also, keep in mind that your inner being sees you as a creator, not just an observer, so if you’re not using your creative power to change an undesirable situation that it knows you’re capable of changing, your soul will do its thing and send you a not-so-friendly reminder that your thinking is “off.”
So, now that you have the skinny on depression and what needs to occur thought-wise for you to feel better, what do you do physically while you wait for the gradual shift back to feeling good to occur? You chill. Read a book, or don’t read a book. Watch TV, or don’t watch TV. Write, or don’t write. Stay under the sheets, or don’t stay under the sheets. Doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you don’t add more momentum to your negative thoughts. That means no listening to sad songs and/or talking all day to others about how much something sucks, (okay, I’ll give you 2-3 days to do that stuff, if you really want to and are cool with taking on a few more days of depression).
Once you quit milking negative thoughts they’ll die out from the loss of momentum that carried them. You’ll get bored, and eventually you’ll be inspired to do something other than sit around and feel sorry for yourself.
Again, the only way out of depression is to embrace it. Don’t add fire to it, which includes both milking it and begrudging it. Just let it be. Don’t make feeling depressed itself a bad thing, no matter what the commercials tell you. As we’ve established, it’s just your body’s emotional response to a “negative” thought. And thinking a thought that makes your body wrong for doing its job will only exacerbate the situation as, once again, you are thinking something counter to what your inner being knows to be true, which is that nothing has gone wrong, (it just has some new and improved information for you).
Finally, I hope you’ve realized by now that my answer to your question is not about getting rid of the feeling of depression forevermore, (as it’s a necessary guide in satisfying your deepest desires). Instead, it’s about not getting stuck in it, (which is not how you’re meant to experience life).
So, rest easy in depression’s transformative nest, and allow thoughts that are truer than the one’s you’ve been thinking to be made clear to you while there. For, before you know it, like a mother bird, your new thoughts and their accompanying positive feelings, will force you out, causing you to soar once again. Best of luck.
Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.