Well it has been a couple of weeks. How have you been coping?
Individuals will frequently ask me, “Will I have to work on beating my depression/anxiety forever?”. My response is as any respectable psychologist would say, “it depends!”.
Life can always present us with challenges and obstacles as well as windows of opportunity. Since life often operates outside of our control, we are left with the option to cope with it well or not so well. Some days and weeks, we do cope rather well and still other times we may not cope as well.
Okay, enough beating around the bush and answering questions with questions. The truth is is that we will always need to cope. How we cope is the key!
Part of our success is related to various factors such as our view of the world, our abilities and life circumstances to name just a few. One aspect to keep in mind is our view and understanding of what we have control over.
When we are struggling, we often feel and believe that we have very little if any control. Sometimes even when we feel good, we might think we have little or no control. If you believe that life just causes your feelings you are only partially correct. This is because we do not have control over anything besides how we think or behave. That means the weather, people, traffic, cost of living, etc… are all outside of our control. If our dog gets sick, that may influence us to feel worried. If we get a raise or land that job, that will likely influence us to feel good or excited. We can do our best to make sure our pets stay healthy and we can do our best to get that raise or land that job. However, whether our pet stays healthy or we get the job is not within our control. What life deals us is typically outside our control. Therefore, we are better off learning to control our emotional responses. As I have said and described many times, our thoughts and the way we perceive things and what we believe have a direct influence on our emotions.
Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.
1. If you are struggling, identify and describe in very measurable terms what it actually is that you are struggling with. (I’m depressed because I am isolating – I need to talk with others.)
2. Determine if what you want is within your control.
3. Identify your options and what YOU CAN DO.
4. If your situation is such that feeling sad or worried makes sense, than validate your feelings. If your dog is sick, it is normal to be worried. If you are struggling financially, it makes sense that you are feeling nervous about how you will pay the bills. The key is to focus on what YOU CAN DO!
If you would like more ideas, feel free to read my previous blogs or get a copy of my book, “When You Can’t Snap Out of it: Finding Your Way Through Depression”.
You can also call or email me regarding the various services I have available.
Best Regards Always,
~ Dr. Lou