Understanding Depression

Those experiencing depression often seem to have good reasons for feeling down, and from the outside looking in, those reasons may appear perfectly valid. If you’re dealing with financial scarcity, health problems, or other unwanted challenges, then any reasonable person might easily look at your situation and agree, “Yup, that’s depressing.”

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by saying your problems aren’t that bad. On the contrary I imagine that your situation may be downright awful, giving you every right to feel depressed. I can empathize with what you’re going through because I’ve been there myself. I know how horrible it is to feel bad most of the time, to have a life filled with negative results, and to feel powerless to change any of it.

If you currently find yourself in such a situation, you have my compassion. But more importantly, I have a solution to share with you. I think you’re smart enough to know that there’s no shallow quick fix for what you’re going through, but there is a workable solution. Your depression is by no means permanent. This solution will work if you take the time to understand it and apply it, using whatever energy you’re still able to muster. This isn’t an all-or-nothing solution, so even a partial implementation will yield partial results. Best of all, you don’t even need to take any direct physical action. You can do the whole thing lying motionless on your bed.

The upside is that once you permanently overcome your depression, you’ll be able to use your experience to help many other people. So as difficult as it may be to endure right now, there may come a day when you look back on these times as a tremendous gift. That has certainly been true for me.

This quote from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” contains some deep truths:
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Let me be very direct. It isn’t your situation that’s causing you to feel depressed. What depresses you is the attention you give to that situation. Your life may indeed be filled with circumstances you don’t want, but that isn’t the real source of your depression. Negative circumstances can only induce depression when you focus your attention on them. If you withhold your attention, your circumstances are powerless to affect you, regardless of how bad they seem.

Consider a simple example: Suppose you’re feeling lonely. You notice you don’t have an intimate relationship, and that makes you feel lonely. But is it the absence of the relationship that makes you feel lonely? Or do you only feel lonely when you pay attention to the fact that you don’t have the relationship you desire? When you’re engrossed in a really good movie or a compelling book, you completely forget that you’re lonely, don’t you? But if you stick your head up and notice you’re all alone, or if you notice a happy couple and contrast it with your own situation, then your loneliness quickly returns.

I know this sounds overly simplistic and perhaps even useless, but just humor me for a moment. I think you can agree that you only feel depressed while you pay attention to negative circumstances, such as your lack of money, lack of a relationship, or lack of good health. But here’s the key point: Your circumstances are NOT the true source of your depression. The true source of your depression is your attention… specifically your habit of putting your attention on what you don’t want. In the case of chronic depression, it’s likely that what you don’t want is what you’re already experiencing right now. So the simple act of noticing what you’re already getting is what’s really making you depressed.

This is why depression is such an insidious trap. Once you sink to the level where you’re not getting what you want, and you keep paying attention to the fact that you’re not getting what you want, your depression becomes self-reinforcing. You’re seriously stuck.

After endless frustration trying to reason their way out of depression, many people settle for temporary relief through medication, alcohol, drugs, TV, video games, or other habits that lower their awareness. Of course none of these things actually resolve the underlying negative circumstances. They usually make it worse. Running from your problems won’t help you get out of debt, build loving relationships, or improve your health.

The solution to depression is actually quite simple, but it’s totally counter-intuitive for most people. The solution is to withdraw your attention from what depresses you and place it on what makes you feel really, really good. If you’re chronically depressed, however, it’s possible that virtually nothing in your life makes you feel good. Your whole situation may be unpleasant from top to bottom. So in that case you need to withdraw your attention from your external environment and plug into your imagination. Within your mind’s eye, you must construct completely imaginary circumstances that make you feel good when you think about them. Then spend more of your time focusing your attention on your imaginary creations and less of your time observing external reality
This may sound like escapism, but you’re not trying to escape. Your goal is to construct new, realistic circumstances within your imagination that are attractive to you. Picture yourself experiencing financial abundance, loving relationships, good health, a fulfilling career, and more.

At first this may be very difficult, but you’ll improve with practice. Obviously you’ll still need to attend to your basic needs and deal with certain external problems as best you can, but only devote the bare minimum attention to them. Give your problems no more attention than is absolutely necessary to keep your head above water. Then spend the rest of your time withdrawing into your imagination.

Within your imagination you are free to do anything you want. There are no limitations whatsoever. Think whatever thoughts make you happy. Imagine them as real, and enjoy them. Build your imaginary dream home. Travel around the world. Create your ideal friends. Imagine the perfect relationship for you. Give yourself superpowers and save the world.

Be patient with yourself. If you catch yourself worrying about your problems, keep going back to your positive mental creations and expand them. I find it best to focus on constructing locations first. The more I think about them, the more detail I add. I keep modifying them to make improvements.

How does this resolve depression?
As you remove your attention from negative external circumstances and refocus it on positive imaginary thoughts, you’ll spend a lot more time feeling good than bad, so your depression will soon lift. The more you shift your thoughts, the faster your depression will lift. This is a rather obvious consequence of spending more time thinking about what makes you feel good and less time thinking about what depresses you.

Now it’s nice to feel good again, but what about your negative circumstances? Even though you’re feeling better, you may still be trapped under a pile of problems. Don’t worry. This approach will help you improve your circumstances too.

Your circumstances will improve in two ways. First, because you’ll be feeling better, you’ll be more motivated to take action to help yourself directly. Depression is disempowering, but positive emotions are empowering. So you’re far more likely to take appropriate action to get yourself out of debt when you’re feeling good than when you’re depressed. Depressed people dwell on their problems, but as your depression lifts, you’ll begin to think about solutions.

Secondly, you will find that when you’re feeling good, through the Law of Attraction you will begin manifesting more positive results in your life almost effortlessly. I can’t claim to understand the mechanism by which this works, but I’ve seen it work too many times to doubt it. When you think about what you desire and feel good about it, you attract it to you in ways that cannot be explained as a result of your direct action. It’s as if you become luckier.

Through the combination of your own direct action as well as the activation of the Law of Attraction, your depressing circumstances will completely turn around. For this to work you must think about what you want AND feel good about it.

Do you realize what an incredible gift your freedom is? Regardless of your physical freedom, you always have your mental freedom. You’re free to hold any thought you can imagine — so free that you can turn your life into a depressing hell if you fail to understand your power… or into a joy-filled heaven if you master it.

Are you still hurting yourself by thinking about what you don’t want? Even the mere act of observing and noticing the presence of what you don’t want in your life can trap you in a negative state. Turn your attention away from such thoughts, and concentrate on what you do want, even if your only viable option is to withdraw into your imagination. Let your imagination become your private refuge of positive thought. Use your creative imagination to get yourself to a state of feeling good, regardless of your external circumstances. This will activate the Law of Attraction, and it won’t be long before your external reality improves to match the pattern of your thoughts. Eventually your circumstances will become so good that simply noticing what you’re getting will make you feel terrific. Instead of the downward spiral of depression, you’ll shift your life onto the upward spiral of joy.

If you want to change your outer reality, you must first change your inner reality.

4 thoughts on “Understanding Depression

  1. thanks a lot school of life , this came at the right time when my depression seems to be at its apogee

  2. This article is so true..For me just the simple thought of winning the lottery and then spending the money on helping my family and the less fortunate lifts my negative thoughts to positives. Dreaming good thoughts does help to drown out the negatives..
    People who don’t understand depression will think your feeling sorry for yourself, what they don’t understand is the Black hole or Black Dog drowns out reasoning like ” Someone is always worse off then yourself, others have far more hardships then ones self” For me depression turned off the lights in my head and I was driving blind, so dreaming good thoughts gives you time to drive out of that black tunnel…

  3. Whao! This is highly encouraging and will help helped me a lot. I expect too much from people thinking that they will always be truthful in all things, alas its the opposite. I discovered that l only need depend on myself for happiness and neglet any other things that cause me sorrow Thanks so much for this pieces, it came at the right time.

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