Q: I spend a great part of my time being upset and wallowing in a negative mood. Sometimes I have the sensation that I like, even enjoy, being depressed. I would love to laugh more, to joke around with my friends, to have real fun watching a movie. But, as much as I try, I rarely succeed. It is as if a dark cloud hovers over my spirit, making me see all things shrouded in gray. I also realize that, with such an attitude, I alienate other people’s willingness to be with me. As an excuse, I tell myself that what I see and hear, what is going on in the world contributes to my feeling depressed. No one seems to be happy.
A: A bad mood should not be accepted as a natural way of feeling and, consequently, of “being”, as a sensation you cannot avoid or release because … it is not true. Bad mood and depression are generated by your attitude only, i.e. by the way you react to outside stimuli. Imagine yourself at the bottom of a well. You stay there and believe you cannot get out because the walls are too high and smooth, they do not offer any foothold that would allow you to start climbing up. Again, it is not true. If you look more closely, if you are willing to pay real attention, you will discover here a small crack, there a little bump, further up an actual dent which, although tiny, is sufficient for your foot to find a stepping place to begin lifting you upward.
Speaking out of the metaphor, look around you with the desire to free yourself from gloomy thoughts, to start living a more serene life. If you do so, you will see that small miracles start happening. When you go to the bookstore you discover — just “by chance” — a book that seems to have been written especially for you. If you give a friend the opportunity to tell you something funny, and you listen forgetting your mood, you, too, will be able to laugh. Some motivational authors suggest that you behave “as if” you actually felt the way you would like to feel. “Pretend” at first and then, by repetition, you will see your mood transformed. In fact, if you keep doing something long enough, a new habit is established. Step out of your old “skin” (what you believe about yourself and how you judge yourself) and reflect upon the many blessings that you have been granted and that you seem to be unaware of. If you do this, you will experience a feeling of gratitude blooming in your heart. In this way, just “allowing”, you will be able — little by little — to lift the dark veil that darkens your spirit, you will perceive and enjoy the wonderful shades that color the world.
Nothing, in reality, is as “gray” as you see it. There are, of course, dark hues as well, because “all” colors are necessary to appreciate the whole painting — as well as the human experience. But the “work of art”, when completed, is a triumph of bright, exciting, brilliant colors. It’s up to you to remove your dark glasses and let your eyes see what is really out there. The main problem is that you — as many others — don’t even realize that you are wearing such “glasses.”
Some behave as if their personal perception were the only one available. But they are mistaken. Their personal views of the panorama mostly depend on the position they find themselves in. As long as they believe that their feet are stuck on the ground, they cannot change their positions, they cannot move forward or shift sideways. Consequently, their “situation” will also remain the same.
Exercise: And I?
Am I more of an optimist or a pessimist? What is the real cause of my bad mood? What mainly influences the way I feel? Is it a person, a situation, a circumstance? Am I too prone to being negatively influenced? Am I willing to do something to improve the situation? Do I actually believe that the situation “can” be improved?
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