From time to time, everybody experiences the depressive feeling that came to be known as «a bad mood», «stress», or «discouragement». We often generalize these «symptoms» as a «depression» while the true depression is far from melancholy and sadness which we are used to, unfortunately. Based on my personal experience of a therapist and a consultant, I would suggest here some ways to overcome such situations and teach you to help yourselves without going to psychologists.
First of all, please pay attention to the fact that a bad mood can never be underestimated. It can lead to a severe depression. Anyway, do not arrange a cuckoo’s nest for you as our fragile-looking mentality can still bear many challenges. However, if you wish or can visit a psychologist, just do it for he will help for sure. Moreover, remember that any bad mood is caused by the deep ontological reasons, and it is possible that dealing with these issues will help you manage this situation once and forever.
First, keep in mind: whatever painful emotions, feelings you have, they all will pass. They are temporary, and a bad mood goes away eventually. Let us recall some childish resentments, bad marks in school – they seemed to be disastrous, but how often do we think about them now? That’s right, we hardly remember these moments. Do not even doubt that what is going on with us now will fade and get forgotten.
A client of mine, a young man of twenty-five, confessed that he had a tough time due to breaking up with his girlfriend, which happened five or six years ago; but as time passed he was OK to talk about her and the past. During the treatment, we worked on the important moments from past, and he began to call her by name instead of just mentioning «she».
It is not good to fuel the pity for yourself, i.e. find yet more proofs of how unhappy and ill-starred you are. This will only make a depressed state worse. Sum up the situation and admit that «something goes wrong» – admit it as a matter of fact. Sure, you can ask the question «Why?», but answers like «It’s all my fault», or «I am so unlucky», or «The whole world is against me!» are taboo.
It reminds us of the films or TV series where the characters from the beginning to the end look for a solution. Would you enjoy a 90-minute film with somebody just crying and blaming everything and everyone?
First, you should realize that it already happened. Self-compassion will fix nothing. You cannot go back and change the past. However, it does not mean that you cannot use this situation to grow or open something new in yourself. Our emotional experience can serve as a good foundation for the changes in our lives. Any pain, any «agony» is a chance to test yourself, experience or learn something new. What exactly? The answer is below.
«That which does not kill us makes us stronger», the great Nietzsche said I guess, and it was about the distress of soul.
You should never assume that ignoring the stress, a problem, or a bad mood is a good solution. You will agree that if you forget about your cat that has not been fed, the cat will still exist, and he will still be hungry. Unless you feed the cat, the problem is not solved.
That is why it is too easy and senseless to forget about stress. As you are not going through the best times make sure you gain from it, just kill two birds. Work the problem over, examine it and yourself.
A client of mine, a married woman and a mother, said that she could only understand how wrong her marriage was when she faced a fatally difficult situation. Only intense emotions helped her understand it. Do we really need to delay major shifts till a critical moment?
It is important not to live the situation out but to live it through. The meaning is similar but pay attention to the special sense that I always try to pass to my clients during consultations. «To live out» means to be out-side the problem, to escape from it, and to «live through» means to learn it throughout, from the in-side, to feel it deeply instead of getting rid of it. In the latter case, pain, sadness, nervousness will not be in vain and can contribute to the self-evolution and self-development.
Imagine: when «living out» something, you race past a bus station you need and fail to find something important there. On the contrary, when «living through» it, you get off and gain that something important to help you pay the way on time.
Do never cross the line by making yourself do what you do not want.
Say, you do not want to go out with your friends. Loneliness is a great chance for self-understanding and self-improvement. Still, staying home long and eating cakes is not always a solution. I believe it is reasonable to «hustle yourself out» to the world. It is not necessary to spend time in a company – just walk through the streets, go to a park you have not been in for long, or visit a shopping mall, even if you have no money. This is a fruitful involvement.
Such a walk will bring amazing revelations: how comes I did not notice these trees here, or the scarfs in this shop are made of natural wool.
Watch the people around – pay attention to their smiles, faces, clothing, moods, and emotions and so on. People are empathic, and you will be amazed on how many details we express nonverbally. It will allow you not to feel lonely – unless you want to stay alone with yourself.
I learned it from my personal experience: I walked around the city, absorbed in the dark feelings, with no specific goal. My mind concentrated on myself, and at the same time, I discovered some new places, avenues, and fountains. Moreover, I discovered many things about myself, too.
Our friends and family often think that stress is a signal to act or to increase attentiveness and to worry. Yes, it can be pleasant but is it not the pity for yourself using others? You should not waiver in their support. The right way here is to explain them that you are not ready to talk about it right now.
Many people believe alcohol is a solution, but this is not right. The nervous system will relieve for some time but the problem will get back. Remember that a solution will not come as it is Moreover, it can lead to alcoholism. Cutting it short, liquor is not your friend.
Remember the rule: do not have much pity for yourself and do not make yourself do anything.
As far as possible, free yourself from the work you do not love or keep it to a minimum. If you have hobbies, try to spend maximum time on it. If you have none – it is time to think about getting one. Just don’t be afraid of experiments!
If you like your work (it happens), then keep doing it. Do not become a workaholic, or you will get bored of the work you like and it will become a torture replacing the real life.
By the way, developing creativity is one of the most effective ways to overcome problems and stresses. Any creative work is a reliable means to understand yourself and relieve the pent-in. These fragments of your mental life can become masterpieces – for everybody or at least for yourself.
For example, you wrote a novel or a poem, drew a painting, or made a plastiline sculpture of Caesar. May it look like a schoolboy play, just remember that the content but not the form is important.
(If form matters for you, you hold the key to the kingdom – use your great potential to improve yourself!) After a while, read or look at your work again, think of it, think why you have such images, metaphors, or fantasies. Do not be afraid to face these revelations – we do not love to do it, but facing something is an art.
If you feel bad and want nothing, not even stand up in the morning – just don’t! That is right; do not force yourself, as you are helpless in this mood. But tomorrow you will probably get bored to look at the ceiling and wallpapers, and the idea of what to do will come.
A guy came to me with melancholy issues, trying to fight his «do-nothingism» with the gloves off. When he had lied in the bed for no more than three hours (from 11:00 to 14:00), he got so bored that he suddenly began home improvements and got a puppy.
Remember the «good» or «fine» moments. Facing a real problem or a stress is a chance to learn to appreciate what we have: to understand these simple words. Sounds easy to promise that «now I will remember and appreciate my «fine» moments» but it actually fades later. Listen to your heart, follow the «memento Mori» rule. Buy, do, and make something that would remind you of the time you passed tests. In this way, you will not forget the price of simple happiness and self-trust. Let the memories of the dark times be the medals of a battle-scarred soldier that symbolize the pride but at the same time remind you of the hard situations you overcame successfully. Look at your life afresh: it is in your hands and you have to appreciate it, to see the good experience and sense it the unique things that happen to come to you.
That’s right; the unique things – your mood, your feelings are unique as no one but you can have them. There is and never will be a man like you.
Unfortunately, it is our destiny to face pain, losses, and griefs. Schopenhauer was right that we are not created to be happy and the happy life is the one with a minimum of misfortunes and grief. Do not comfort yourself that we are created for happiness as this word is invented by the unfortunate and naive people like us to make them live on and help them not to give up. That is why everybody has his own happiness as well as his own griefs. But the fact that happiness is imaginary does not make it «unreal». Men once wanted to fly, and so they invented a plane. We want to be happy, and each of us invents a new happiness. This knowledge should help us overcome, realize and understand many things about ourselves and the world. And remember: with no darkness, there is no light; with no fear, there is no peace. In the same way, with no grief, there is no happiness.
(and do not be afraid of psychologists)
Written by Dmitriy Lobachev
Translated by Nataly Bondarenko