Keeping Your Head Above Water

Keeping your head above water - dealing with depression

Everyone in life faces some type of hard times and it can be depressing. We can get very depressed where it affects our outlook on life, how we deal with others, health, etc. We become angry, blame others, withdraw, etc. Psychologists tell us that the majority of depression is circumstantially based; our hopes expectations are not being met in some dramatic way. Many get depressed when they lose hope.

What typically happens is that one area of a person's life gets the spotlight and supersedes all other areas. We are suffering in one area and we let it totally affect our life outlook in all areas. Recently, I had this happen with struggling to keep my new business alive. I let one aspect of my life, my work, affect my whole outlook. I became lopsided and it was affecting everything.

It is easy to let this happen. We start having a pity party for ourselves or just watch our hope and expectations crumble before our eyes and at some point, we think "What's the use?" or "It will never get better, poor me." We may blame it all on another and have a victim mentality.

Recently I heard two very practical ways to help get myself out of circumstantial depression. The first is to start keeping a journal of all the good things that happened to me that day. I learned this from hearing about a recent research study that tracked two groups of people for this project. The first group kept a journal or log of all the good things that happened to them each day. The second group kept a log or journal of all the bad things that happened to them. At the end of the 60 day study, the first group had a great outlook on life. They were happy, very optimistic and were pleasant to be around. The second group had become very cynical. Most had actually become depressed and were no fun to be around.

What it told me is that when times are getting tough, we tend to overly think or focus on the bad stuff and not on the good. This single focus on the bad, especially how our dreams or desires are not being fulfilled, causes us to become depressed. Writing down the good stuff that happens each day brightens the spirits and makes us realize that life is not that bad. That is my personal experience. I have been keeping a journal of the good things that happen each day and my outlook has improved. I also realized that I was being very self-centered.

The second way to get yourself out of a depressed state is to write down all the positive influences you have had on other people each day. Ask yourself, "What positive impact or influence have I had on: my family, co-workers, friends, church, neighbors, etc. today?" Give thanks for this opportunity each day. If you can't see that you are a positive influences on others, then that is a huge red flag. Start living your life where you have positive influence on others. Get out of yourself.

A way to help yourself get out of depression is to give your time to helping someone else; to a person who cannot, in anyway, repay you for the help you are giving. This effort is a total focus on someone else and none on yourself. Don't look for anything in return. A project where a family focuses on helping someone less fortunate is great for building family, healing marriages and solidifying relationships.

We tend to be so self focused that we place too much emphasis on how our dreams, hopes, expectations are not being fulfilled. In this process, we forget how really good we have it. Go serve someone else that can't repay you; that will help you see how good you really do have it.

Faith

Psalm 25:4-6 "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old."

Psalm 33:19-21 "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name."

Psalm 42:11 "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

May times when we are depressed it is because the circumstance or thing we had placed our hope is failing us. A happy marriage, great job, good health, etc. is not being realized. We have put the realization of happiness into these things. Our hope is in what we define as good for us in each situation.

God commands us to put our hope in Him, not in circumstances (a fact that I have to remind myself daily.) Many times God is the one taking away the very thing you hoped in because it is distracting you from putting your hope solely in Him. Blessings are wonderful when placed in proper relationship with God as head of your life. If other things become more important than God, he will be jealous and work to remove these things from your life. You then have two choices: become depressed or submit to God and give thanks for what you have then start serving God.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself."

It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived! Are you selflessly serving others or just serving yourself?
 

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