When you suffer pain and loss and do not express and resolve your feelings of helplessness, hurt, anger, and grief, you will eventually experience depression. For instance, when you lose your source of income or realize that your spouse doesn't love you, you can feel gloomy, dejected, weary, miserable, hopeless, defeated, despairing, tormented, exhausted, and even suicidal.
When you are depressed, you tend to focus on losses, your inner emptiness, unfulfilled dreams, and problems. You may experience feelings of worthlessness. The thick blackness pervades your entire being and your suffering seems endless. You may lose interest in food, people, and sex, and have difficulty sleeping. When you are mildly depressed, you can manage your day-to-day activities. Mild forms of depression are considered normal depression. There are, however, two certified depressive disorders: unipolar depression and bipolar, or manic-depression. Some therapists believe that unipolar depression is a severe form of normal depression. Manic- or bipolar depression always includes manic episodes—unjustifiable euphoria, frenzied talk and behavior, grandiosity, and almost no sleep for days at a time. The mania is preceded or followed by a period of depression. It is in your best interest to seek professional help for unipolar or bipolar depression. Psychiatrists prescribe a drug called lithium carbonate to relieve the manic aspect of bipolar depression. It is effective in more that 80 percent of cases.
In Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman states, "A pessimistic explanatory style is at the core of all depressed thinking. A negative concept of the future, the self, and the world stems from seeing the causes of bad events as permanent, pervasive, and personal, and see ing the causes of good events in the opposite way." When you feel depressed, do you blame yourself for having no control of your life and reinforce your helplessness? You might have thoughts like, "I've tried for twenty years to make it in my career and it hasn't worked. It's hopeless." Or "I am a dork. I am short and ugly and I can't change that." You can learn about your depression and optimize your life by asking:
• Why am I feeling overwhelmed?
• Am I looking at life through pessimistic eyes?
• Do I believe that my situation is permanent?
• What am I thinking or doing to create these feelings?
• Am I unnecessarily taking all the blame for my life being bad?
• Am I paying attention to my feelings and taking the wisest actions to fulfill myself?
• What are the most empowering thoughts I can employ to take control of my life?
• How can I take control of optimizing my life?
• What are the best actions I can take to create what is most important to me?
• What are the most nurturing actions I can take for myself?
To overcome normal depression, begin by observing your thinking. Optimize your interpretation of the problems you are dealing with so that you no longer view them as permanent or out of your control. Put OptiSelf in charge of listening to your needs and taking the most nurturing actions on your behalf. Focus your attention on what is within your control and what is most important to you. Carry your notebook with you and record your negative thoughts and feelings. When you feel depressed, question and resolve your pessimistic thoughts with Optimal Thinking. Allow OptiSelf to embrace your negative voice, and ask the best questions to obtain the most empowering resolution. Act upon your Optimal responses and you will be your best even in the toughest circumstances. Here's how Richard, the chiropractor, did it.
Negative Voice: I ruined my last business. I'm afraid I'll do it again.
OptiRichard: It's natural for you to feel scared. If you take it one step at a time, you will restore your confidence. Which changes in your thinking would be most helpful in restoring your self-confidence? What's the best step you can take right now to achieve what you want?
Negative Voice: I have wasted so much time.
OptiRichard: I understand you are feeling bad because you have been unproductive for the last few years. You're also feeling bad because you're focusing on the past, which is no longer in your control. Are you willing to optimize what is within your control? What is the best strategy you can implement to maximize your productivity?
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