The article I adapted this from
is about depression, but many of the mental tools presented are useful for
overcoming behaviors....or for dealing with some of the issues underlying
Overcoming Depression and
By Chuck T. Falcon, Mental
Health Professional, Counseling Psychologist; Sensible Psychology Press
You can see the full article at
this very useful web site:
Remember sadness is always
temporary. This, too, shall pass.
Can't, If, When, and But never
Trials give you strength,
sorrows give understanding and wisdom.
Depression involves sadness,
pessimism, a preoccupation with personal problems, and perhaps feeling sorry
for one's self, anguish, crying, and hopelessness. Four out of five cases of
severe depression clear up without treatment within six to nine months, but
half of the people with severe depression experience it again later. People
often become depressed about marital, romantic, or family problems. Using
alcohol or other drugs to improve your mood is especially risky because addictive
substances often intensify pre-existing mood or personality problems.
Fortunately, we can control our
thoughts and feelings much more than most people realize. With enough work and
effort, you can change habitual thoughts and feelings. Some severely depressed
people need medicines to control their depression, but most people can conquer
depression by following the suggestions in this excerpt. If you feel severely
depressed, most psychiatrists will use trial and error to find a drug that will
Interests and activities are
very important in mental health, contributing to self-esteem and happiness.
They give satisfaction, help make you feel good about yourself, and keep your
mind off problems and negative thoughts and emotions.
There are three main kinds of
helpful interests and activities: pleasurable, constructive, and altruistic. Of
course, pleasurable activities give us enjoyment. We may do them just for fun
or relaxation. Constructive activities produce or accomplish something and give
a sense of pride. Helping others is one of the best ways to lift yourself
Of course, depressed people
often find it very difficult to motivate themselves and often reject new
interests and activities without trying them or after one attempt. But even
happy people don't enjoy interests without first cultivating them. We often
don't enjoy a new activity right away. Instead, it may take time to become
accustomed to a new activity and for interest and pleasure to grow.
Negative thinking habits play a
very important role in depression. Research shows depressed people tend to
minimize their accomplishments, talents, and qualities. They tend to see
themselves as inferior and incompetent‰Û¦.
Happy people experience
failure, disappointment, rejection, negative emotions, pain, and great sorrows,
too, just like depressed people. But happy people keep a positive attitude by
gracefully accepting sadness and suffering as normal parts of life, while doing
what they can about their problems. [D]epressed people often blame their
problems on fate, bad luck, other people, circumstances, or their incompetence.
They may passively resign themselves to problem situations and let the problems
Reexamine your expectations or
priorities in life and, if necessary, adjust them to suit reality better.
Depressed people often think they can't be happy without certain things‰Û¦.
You can eliminate such problems by changing your negative thinking and learning
to accept the situation. Work on your personal problems, using small steps to
make sure you avoid becoming overwhelmed. Work on only one or two simple things
at a time, breaking large or complex problems into goals you can easily
Don't let negative thought
habits interfere with problem solving. Take a long, hard, honest look at
yourself for personal problems, paying particular attention to repeating
problems in your life. Change bad habits that keep you depressed. Work on
replacing negative thoughts with positive thought alternatives every day in the
ways described there.
Don't let negative thoughts
about many activities block your improvement and interfere with your happiness.
Replace these each time they occur with more positive, helpful thoughts.
Depressed people tend to overlook and discount feelings of pleasure and
accomplishment, both in trying new activities and in many other areas of life.
Learn to recognize these feelings. Counter negative reactions with positive
alternatives. .Repeat those activities that give you slight feelings of
accomplishment or pleasure.
Good social skills and a good
network of friendships ranging from casual to intimate ones help prevent
depression after life stresses and speeds recovery from depression. Work on
increasing the positive behaviors in your marriage. Research shows depressed
people are more likely than other people to interact with their spouses and
children in hostile or angry ways. Learn about and practice good communications
Looking for a romance to save
you from your loneliness and unhappiness is a rather desperate, needy search
that alienates other people. Accept you may be single for a long time and get
on with your life. With interests and activities and a good network of friends
and acquaintances, your painful longing will cease. A common, very painful
mistake in dating is to become completely engrossed in a person who shows
little true concern for your needs and feelings. Your time and emotional energy
are better spent developing interests, activities, ways of meeting people, and
a more suitable love relationship.
If you don't know why you feel
depressed, look for clues by comparing and contrasting your life now with a
happier time in your life. Depressed people usually feel better when they keep
busy (at work, cooking, visiting, etc.) and worse when idle (weekends,
The fastest way to change an
emotion is often simply to act the way you want to feel. Act happy, smile
regularly, act friendly toward other people, and participate in plenty of
interests and activities‰Û¦.Work on improving nonverbal behaviors that
People need a healthy balance
between pleasure and work. A few depressed and overwhelmed people need to quit
pushing themselves so hard, relax more, and eliminate some work activities, but
most depressed people need more interests and activities. Exercise invigorates
you, giving you more energy. Deep relaxation also helps combat depression and
especially helps anxious depressed people. Relaxation helps people find peace
within themselves. Learn about different kinds of relaxation techniques and
meditation and put them to use in your life.
Certain kinds of written
records help combat depression. Compile a journal or list of joyous experiences
Make another list of your positive attributes.. Make a list of blessings you
can be thankful for, too. Compile a collection of inspiring thoughts, quotes,
poems, prayers, or affirmations. Affirmations are inspiring statements you
write and then repeat throughout the day for self-improvement or emotional
Perhaps you reward yourself
when you drown in negative thoughts or self-pity. Many depressed people eat,
spend money excessively, abuse addictive substances, or have sex without love
to feel better. Eliminate these and any other subtle rewards for depressive
behavior. Work to make your social interactions more positive by showing warmth
toward other people, taking an interest in them, developing and sharing
interests and activities.
Don't worry about whether you are happy. Develop interests,
activities, and friendships, be kind, help other people, strive to be virtuous,
accept emotional pain, work on conquering your personal problems, and improve
your thinking habits. These things will lead to happiness.