Ask the Author: Question & Response
I’m passing through a very difficult time in my life and maybe your experience in coaching can help me. I’m in a moment where nothing is easy. I’m not happy with work and my love life is not going well. After a difficult divorce and other relationships that have not worked out, I had thought I finally found stability. I’m in a relationship of a year and a half, but lately it has not been working. That has me very depressed because it would be yet another failure and also I love him very much. I feel so bad that I have not been to work in two days. The only thing I feel is that I want to leave this place, leave everything and start anew. I’m a US citizen; I was born there, and I want to look at the option of going to live in the US and find work and start from zero. I have a good work resume, but I don’t know if now is the time with the economic crisis if it’s easy to find work there. Please, I need your advice to know what to do. Sorry to involve you in something that you have nothing to do with but I feel bad.
– Anonymous, Lima, Peru
What you are feeling is not who you are. All negative thoughts are foreign to you; they are not part of your true essence. All negative thinking has been learned and is not part of your true self. Negative thinking is simply a very limited foreign belief system that you have allowed into your mind. It is now fogging and lingering over your true self. Through your thoughts, actions and reactions, you are supporting this fog as your truth. Deep down, you feel and know it is not your truth, and thus your confusion. You are continually expressing a foreign belief system you deep down have no faith or belief in, and thus your frustration and depression.
In truth, who you are is an all-loving, all-compassionate and happy being. This is the real you. This is the real you that you are now on a journey to remembering, and of putting into practice through your daily interactions with yourself, the planet and all its beings. But to remember who you are, you need to practice who you, in truth, want to become. Thus you must practice loving, compassionate and happy thoughts. Right now, you may find this difficult to do, but isn’t what you are doing to yourself, with all the negative thinking you are currently overwhelmed by, even more difficult and tiring?
1. It is not your outer world that needs to change, but your inner world. It is not your circumstances, boyfriend, workplace or anything outside of you that is weighing you down. It is your negative thoughts about them that are weighing you down. There is nothing that is outside of you that can weigh you down mentally or emotionally. The only things that can weigh you down are your thoughts and feelings about what is outside of you. And there is a huge difference in that. The power to change lies within you, not outside of you. It is not the person, place or thing that affects you. It is your thoughts and feelings about the person, place or thing that creates the environment within your mind that you end up focusing on, extending out into the world, and experiencing.
Depression puts a negative spin on everything you think about. If you are having trouble getting out of depressed thinking, try this: Instead of thinking and reacting from a negative perspective, invite God, Jesus or any self-actualized being that you believe in to join you. Then before you react or say anything, listen to their advice about everything and everyone. Every time you think of someone when you are depressed, understand that depression is thinking for you. Instead, invite God in and ask yourself: “How would God think about this person?” Instead of listening to your depression about work or anything else, stop and bring God in. Ask God how He would think about your work or whatever else. Instead of speaking through the voice of depression to anyone, stop and invite God in. Then ask God: “In this situation, what would you say to this person?” Then say what God would say, and answer the person as God would answer him or her. God is love, and some of love’s expressions are kindness, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness, passion and joy. Practice speaking from this place and you will be allowing God to flow and speak through you.
2. Replace your negative thinking with positive thinking. Our greatest critic of our own behavior is usually ourselves. Stop being so hard on yourself. By bringing God in, you will naturally reduce your self-criticism. When God, wholly loving and compassionate, sees you, He only sees His perfect creation, not what you might think of yourself. When you have loving and compassionate thoughts flowing through you, know that this is your true Source flowing through you. Whenever you have negative, judgmental thoughts flowing through you, know that this is your depression speaking, not your true self.
When you experience a negative thought, write it down in your journal. Then when you’re in a better mood, go back to your entry and next to it replace it with a positive thought. For example, if you said something to yourself like: “What a pain. There is no parking near the supermarket. I never get good parking spots.” Next to it, you could write: “Good! Parking away from the supermarket gives me a nice chance to walk a bit, get some exercise and lose a little weight.”
3. Look to add optimistic people instead of pessimistic people into your life, and learn from their examples. Notice how optimists deal with their everyday lives, and steadily implement their way of thinking into your life. Notice how they remain hopeful during difficult or challenging times, how they rebound from frustrations and disappointments quickly, and how they solve problems in positive and creative ways. Whatever positive qualities they possess, you can have too. For we all come from the same Source, and our perspective is all that separates us from experiencing peace of mind and joy in our daily experiences. Every time you notice someone else’s optimistic approach, in your heart, thank them and God for their participation in your life.
4. Make your workplace a sacred workshop. In the future, you may very well change jobs. But until that happens, you are where you are. So why not enjoy and make a workshop, an experiment, out of it? Use the experience as a way to mature as a spiritual being. Instead of supporting negative feelings about your job (that do nothing but weigh you down), and seeing your job as a curse, think of it as an opportunity for personal growth, and make your workplace a sacred workshop. Instead of judging coworkers, look for ways to praise them, make them smile, and make their days less heavy and draining. As you do this, these actions, thoughts and feelings will flow through your body, feeding your heart with joy, acceptance and love. Imagine if instead of a whole day of cursing your workplace and the people in it, you blessed and thanked God for having a job, and you helped people smile and feel better about themselves. Imagine, after doing this for a whole day, how would you feel?
Disliking your job only brings you down. Now, I’m in no way saying that if you feel unfulfilled in your job that you should keep doing it. What I am saying is that as long as you’re there, you might as well enjoy it. As long as you’re there, think of it as your own personal workshop where you learn to be a more self-loving, compassionate and caring human being. As long as you choose to be there, understand that this is where God is using you to help your brothers and sisters come to a more peaceful and joyful place within their hearts and minds. You may work with 5, 10 or more people, and yet out of 7 billion people that exist on the planet today, this is where God is using you. God has gifted your co-workers to you and He has gifted you to your co-workers.
5. Every relationship, no matter its length, is a success. You mentioned that a lot of your relationships have failed. Failure is a concept in our society’s illusional thought system. Where has this thought system taken you? How has this thought system made you feel? And why, after all that, are you still buying into the illusionary concept of failure? In this illusionary thought system that you currently subscribe to, there are only two possible outcomes to relationships: either you break up and you consider it a failure, or you die during the relationship – that’s it. Your choices in this illusionary thought system are either you fail or you die! These are its answers for you. Can you begin to see and feel the insanity of this thought system? After following this thought system for so long, are you still in shock about why you feel depressed? For if your only two choices are between failure and death, then obviously depression is a feasible reaction. This insane concept about relationships sounds sane only to an insane world. So stop, and make the conscious choice to no longer buy into this insane thought system.
There is another way of thinking, a way you were born with, a way that lies within your heart and soul, a memory of a place you have left, but a place that has never left you. It is a place where every moment is a gift, and every relationship, regardless of the amount of time spent in it, is a success, and where your thoughts are filled with compassion and love. This place is our true home. This place is all we are. Through free will, this place is what we are invited to radiate out on this planet in its greatest hour of need. My friend, I will answer your heart’s true question. There is another way! Every single relationship, whether it lasts 60 seconds or 60 years is a success. For we come together to learn from each other, and once that learning is complete, we move on to another part of our journey. On the sacred path, when a relationship ends, we appreciate the love, compassion and respect that was experienced in the relationship, we bless and feel grateful for our lessons, and with love, forgiveness and gratitude, we move on.
6. It is okay to get professional help. A good therapist creates a safe environment where you can open up honestly, without holding back. You may want to choose a woman as your therapist, possibly someone a little older than yourself. If she puts you on medication, that is fine. Do not be ashamed of that. Understand that medication should be a short-term solution, and always look to develop a more peaceful place within yourself where you no longer need it. Getting professional help does not mean that you’re weak. It simply means that you’re looking for a more productive way of looking at and participating in life. Depression may try to convince you that you’re not worth the help. But depression is absolutely wrong; you are worth helping. Depression is treatable, and you can and will feel better.
7. Journal your experience and learn from it. By doing so, you will end up helping a lot of people who will go through what you are going through. And I can promise you, this is now part of your mission in life – to help people like you remember their true selves, happiness and peace of mind. For everything that happens to us is a gift, and once you offer your gift to others, you will fully realize this truth. You will realize that because you went through what you went through – you can assist others struggling with similar challenges. As you participate in this part of your life’s mission, you will encounter and experience gratitude and fulfillment.
8. Look for support groups that deal with issues of feeling lost and depressed. There should be some in your area. If not, consider working with your therapist to begin one. If your therapist is not interested, find people who are. Being with other people who are dealing with similar challenges will reduce your sense of isolation. Isolation is one of the tools depression uses to keep you to itself, hidden from your true self. By spending time with other people who understand and are collaborating in your process, you will be able to share advice and experiences, and encourage each other.
9. Bring God back into your life. Truly, from the bottom of your heart, ask God to connect with you and your desires. God has never left you. You may have been focusing on many other worldly things and perhaps have forgotten about God, or put Him deep in the back of your mind. But if there is one promise that I can make, it is that God has not left you. God resides within all of us, all the time, and when we choose to focus our thoughts and energies on Him, He is right there for us. But you must make that choice; this is free will. You can spend your time as you wish. You can choose to focus your time and energy on worries and depression or on God’s eternal love for you. This is a choice you make in every moment of your day; this is free will.
Whenever possible, spend some quiet time with God. The following meditation is an easy way to consciously connect with God, as well as have God help you wash away your pain and wounds.
Meditation / Guided Visualization:
Visualize yourself under a waterfall. But instead of water pouring on you, visualize God’s white light flowing through you. Truly feel God’s love for you. Feel His compassion. Ask God to assist you in seeing your situation through His eyes, and allow your pain and wounds to be washed away. Then spend a few more minutes in gratitude. Send God your love. And even though you currently don’t understand why you are going through what you are going through, thank God and tell Him that you have faith in His plan. Finally, just spend a couple of minutes in silence, in peace, just listening to the silence.
10. Your future is the result of what you do now. Practice experiencing a new life. You can start with something easy by just changing a few moments of your day. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind, stop it. Then, with all the heart you can muster, offer gratitude for everything that God has given you. It could be your health, your family, your friends, a beautiful day, great weather, whatever – just change your mind about that one moment. That will give you the understanding and confidence that you can do this with many, many more moments throughout your day. You will start to steadily experience more positive moments and less negative moments. You will then begin to have more positive days than negative days. But it all starts with a small decision to be in the moment and feel grateful, instead of being judgmental and fearful. Our lives consist of a bunch of moments put together. When we finally acknowledge that, in the moment, we have the power to focus on love or on fear, then we understand that the power to experience our lives the way we want to is ours, and ours alone.
11. Running away will not solve your challenges. By moving away, you would simply be carrying your challenges with you to another location. The problems do not really exist except within an illusionary thought system that you think is real. You think the problems are real because you have supported the illusionary perceptions for so long that even though these perceptions do not work for you, you still believe that external factors are the cause of your suffering. What is truly not working for you is not your location. It is the thought system you support within that location. Thus, if you ever want to start over again, or move back to the United States, that is fine, but do so after you have conquered your depression. If you don’t, the result will likely be that instead of being depressed in the country you currently live in, you will be depressed in the US. When and if you leave your country, do so knowing that you left in peace, in peace with all of your family and friends, in peace with your circumstances and yourself. Leave with your head held high and with your spirit shining for all to see.
12. Take small, focused steps. To recover from depression, you need to move in the direction of recovery. The journey to happiness starts with a step forward in the direction you desire to go. I realize that when you are depressed even the smallest action can seem exhausting. So that is the reason that I ask you to take small, focused steps. Then you build from that. For example, take a walk. Just 15 minutes outside in the sun provides enough vitamin D for the day. Having appropriate levels of vitamin D will improve your energy levels, and this will help you take a few more steps in the right direction. Buy fruits or berries and reward yourself after a good walk. Eliminate all processed sugars from your diet. Eat outside, sit on a park bench and people watch, or have a cup of tea with a friend.
13. Maintain your close relationships and social activities. It will be helpful to have support to get through this. Ask your boyfriend, close friends and family members to assist you in your effort. Do not be ashamed of being honest with them. Depression is fed, in part, by isolation and loneliness. You must stop feeding depression. Starve depression out of your life by forcing yourself to interact with those willing to assist you. Muster up the willpower to get back to work. Find a couple of people at your workplace whom you believe are willing to assist you. Your loved ones, those who truly love you, are willing to help. Be honest and share with your loved ones what you are going through. Ask your loved ones to make an extra effort to stay in touch with you. Depression might try to make you feel ashamed, guilty or too tired and try to stop you from communicating with your loved ones. It does this because it wants to survive, and it can only do so by isolating you from others, as well as from your true self. When you share moments of honesty, compassion and love, it nurtures and strengthens you, and weakens depression. It is now time for depression to die, and for you to live.
14. Take care of yourself. Make time for the things you enjoy doing and experiencing. Remember the days that you were not depressed and the things you liked doing then, the things you took joy in experiencing, then pick them back up again. Make a list in your journal of the things you like to do, or used to enjoy. Write down everything you can remember that you did and experienced that made you happy. Also, include in the list things you haven’t done, but think you might enjoy doing. Again, take small steps, come up with quick things you can do to boost your mood. Try things like calling a friend, spending time in nature, reading a good book, watching a funny show, taking a hot bath, playing with a pet, listening to music, etc. Yes, depression might try to stop you. But no longer listen to it, for where has listening to its advice taken you? Instead, push yourself to do these uplifting activities. You will feel better once you’re doing them. Your depression might not lift right away, but you will feel more upbeat and energetic because of your courage and effort, and these are all steps in the right direction.
15. Do your best to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Sleep issues usually accompany depression, from sleeping too much to sleeping too little. Learn about healthy sleeping habits. Try keeping your room uncluttered, clean, simple and organized. Consider playing relaxing music before you go to sleep. Instead of having many thoughts cross your mind as you try to fall asleep, use a mantra. A simple phrase like “God is love,” repeated over and over again can help focus and clear your mind. Just breathe in “God is,” and breathe out “love.” At first, say it out loud, then let it naturally move to a whisper, and then let it become just a continuous thought in your mind. Whenever other thoughts come in, just release them and return to your mantra until you fall asleep.
16. Learn how to deal with stress better. Stress can prolong or worsen depression. On another sheet of paper in your journal, write down all of your “stress triggers.” Identify what stresses you out, and next to the items on your list write down ways to avoid or lessen their impact on your life. Include negative thinking as a stress trigger. Look briefly into the future and plan ahead. Prepare yourself before a possible stress trigger comes up. For example, if driving to work triggers stress for you, you could: buy or borrow audio books to listen to, leave your home earlier so you don’t worry about being late, and/or practice prayer and deep breathing while you drive. You can visualize a white light surrounding you and deeply breathe in God’s love for you, then visualize a dark light leaving you, and breathe out any stress and sadness. Do this 10 times in a row.
17. Make exercise a part of your daily experience. Depression may fight you on this issue, but understand that depression knows what will hurt and weaken it, and thus tries to make you avoid it. In my opinion, exercise is as or more effective than antidepressant medication for increasing your energy. Exercise releases endorphins, while reducing muscle tension and stress. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. But if 10 minutes is all that you can manage in the beginning, then do that. Even if those 10 minutes have you walking in the park, talking to a friend on your cell phone. Strive to increase the intensity and time spent working out, and make the exercise as continuous as possible in order to keep your heart rate up.
18. Include a healthy eating regiment as part of your daily routine. Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables while reducing your intake of processed foods and sugar. Do your best to eat five to six small meals a day, and don’t skip breakfast. When you are awake, try to eat every three to four hours. This keeps your sugar levels at a healthy balance, which in turn provides a stable and consistent amount of energy throughout your day. Do not eat grains that are white or processed; and if you want to eat bread, eat only the “whole grain” kind.
Consider getting blood tests done to see if you are deficient in any vitamins or minerals. Low levels of vitamins B-12 or D can trigger depression. Include 1,000 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Along with its heart benefits, Omega-3 has been shown to positively boost moods. Good sources of Omega-3 are walnuts, flax seeds, wild salmon and tofu.
19. Educate yourself. Read books on combating depression and how to become the person you choose to be. I also recommend reading about the power of the mind and how what you experience inside of you is what you end up experiencing in your physical environment. A good book on retraining the mind from a thought system based on fear to a thought system based on love is A Course in Miracles. I have studied this book on and off for 25 years. The book is also available in Spanish. An easier book to read before A Course in Miracles is A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, also available in Spanish.
My friend, there is nothing that happens to us that is not a gift. You are going through this period in your life because there is something here for you to learn and teach others. This is part of your soul’s mission. In the future, your victory over your depression will lift many souls that will face this challenge. It may not be easy overcoming this challenge, but it will not be harder than what you are doing to yourself now. As you share your experience, you will learn many lessons that will be useful to yourself and others. You will grow because of this experience and discover more courage within yourself than you ever thought you had.
One day, after helping others in pain, you will look back at what you went through and feel grateful for it. For it is only because of what you went through that you will be able to truly understand and assist the lost souls that will be dealing with similar battles. The same types of things you once cried over, you will experience gratitude for. You will thank God, not just for how you feel, but for what you went through even during your darkest and loneliest nights.
Courage, my dear friend, courage!
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