4. “Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.” — Travis Kalanick
1. “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.” — Richard Branson
I am thinking, though, that there are many times when people pick an unrealistic goal and then try to make it work despite the bad odds. This can lead to feeling very bad about oneself. If you are depressed, you can be prey to these errors of decision-making. A depressed brain causes people to pessimistically see the worst possible outcome and causes them to believe all negative outcomes are their fault. They tend to devalue their talents and abilities.
But those traits might also lead to success if you use the brain of depression to your advantage.
The ability to identify what could go wrong and plan to meet the challenges along the way is not the typical pattern of the optimist. Pragmatic realism (seeing the possibility of failure) is more the bailiwick of the pessimist. But, think about it: preparation leads to more success than merely hoping for a good outcome.
Believing you do not have what it takes to succeed might lead you to pick more realistic goals or seek advice more readily.
The challenge with depression is correctly targeting your anticipation of failure toward adequate realistic preparation. And realism must extend to realistic appraisal of your part in an outcome. You must see your successes as an outcome of planning, preparation and execution: things you actually did to achieve the positive outcome. Walk down that memory lane for a bit. When did you work on something and it turned out okay? When did put in one more bit of effort and got a good outcome? (If you need help with that one, ask a friend or family member to remind you. One problem of depression is forgetting the good stuff.)
To overcome vicious cycle of negative thinking and chronic depression:
- Focus on solutions: If you are faced with a problem, focusing on the problem is a negative mental state, however, focusing on the solution or focusing on finding the solution is a positive mental state. So, instead of my son focusing on the issues with his bike, he could have just as easily focused on the solutions, and maintained his previous good mood.
- Take responsibility: If you want to awaken from depression, it is essential that you take responsibility for all your thoughts, but also notice that you are not your thoughts. This is the high level of conscious responsibility. If you can separate who you really are from your thoughts, thoughts will begin to lose their power over you.
- Turn it around: If you find yourself focusing on what you do not want, flip it around. If you know what you don’t want, you also know what you do want. Flip it around as many times a day as necessary. Eventually, it will stick.
- Practice letting go: When you become aware of negative thoughts, let go as quickly as you can. Don’t fight with your thoughts, just let everything go. If you imagine that the voice in your head is the voice of Mickey Mouse, it will lose its power. You might also want to imagine putting the thought in a bubble and then popping the bubble.
- Add a “yet”: When you say, “I can’t do something,” it tells your subconscious mind not to allow you to do it. However, if you add a “yet,” it changes everything. By saying “I can’t do it, yet,” you are commanding your subconscious mind to prepare for doing whatever it is that you want to do.
- Drop your “buts”: If you say or think something positive but you add a “but,” you negate the positive. By saying, “I really like this pizza, but I wish it had more sauce,” you made the whole thought negative. Just focus on the positive and drop your “buts.”
- No excuses: Don’t give yourself excuses, such as, “Everyone else thinks negatively” – that will just keep you trapped in your old thinking.
- Detox your life of toxic people: Until you gain control of your mind, do your best to be around positive people. If you can’t detox your life of certain people, get a good pair of headphones and use them whenever you need to block out the negativity of others. Better yet, set boundaries.
- Set boundaries: When I first detoxed my life of negativity, I would literally tell any negative speaking people, “I’m sorry, you probably didn’t know this, but I don’t allow anyone to talk negatively about me or around me.” I would say it very nicely and I would smile. Often people would respond with an apology or they would just change the subject. Either way, it always worked.
- Saturate your mind: Saturate your mind with positive youtubes, books and music – anything that makes you feel good and moves you in the direction of focusing on the positive.
- Practice imagining: Practice imagining your perfect life as if it has already happened. Indulging your imagination will unlock the positivity that already exists inside you. It is also a great idea to pre-pave your day by imagining how you desire your day to unfold.
- Positive questions: Ask yourself positive questions, such as, “What is the best that can happen?” Your mind will sort for all the good that can happen and then you are automatically thinking positive thoughts.
- Be kind: If you have been practicing negative thinking your whole life, it might take some time to shift. Be determined to do so, but also be kind, patient and loving with yourself. Judging yourself for negative thinking is just more negative thinking on top of negative thinking.
- Others: Instead of feeling sorry for someone or worrying about others, imagine those who have challenges overcoming those challenges – see them strong, happy and successful. The most that we can ever do for another is to imagine them at their very best.
Depression, of course, is not good for us, but the body’s first course of action is survival. If your survival is threatened due to the stress of chronic fear caused by fear-based thinking, it will do what it needs to do in order to save you.
Maybe you have blamed depression for your negative thinking but, I promise you, it is the other way around – it is your negative thinking that has caused depression. This is good news, because it means that by correcting improper thinking, you can rise up from depression.
Examples of negative thinking:
- Judgment of anything is negative thinking because you are focusing on what you do not like or desire.
- Self-judgment is negative thinking where you are focusing on what you don’t like about yourself – and reinforcing it.
- Perfectionism is just another word for self-judgment.
- If you call yourself a “realist,” you are someone who rationalizes negative thinking in order to give yourself permission to think negatively.
- While self-doubt is negative thinking, negative thinking creates more self-doubt.
- Feeling sorry for someone is judgment of them or their experience which is negative thinking.
- Worry is also another form of negative thinking because you are imagining the worst.
- Even negative questions are a form of negative thinking because they produce negative answers.
- If you ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t succeed?” your mind will sort for all the terrible things that might happen, and you will be focused on what you don’t want.
- Complaining about what is wrong in your reality is also negative thinking – yes, even if it is really happening.
Negative thinking first manifests as negative feelings
Now, it seems so clear to me. All the years that I tried relentlessly to overcome depression, I wasn’t able to do it because I was not changing my thought patterns. I wish I could go back and tell my past self, “Hey Nanice, stop focusing on what you don’t want. Take your attention off worry and fear and focus on what you do want, and keep doing it, despite evidence to the contrary.” I would tell her that her commitment to changing her mind will save her – because eventually it did!
Negative thinking profoundly affects one’s body, mind and quality of life. You can trace virtually every problem back to fear-based thinking. Negative thinking makes everything harder and requires that we give more effort to the things we want.
You cannot be anxious, overwhelmed or depressed without corresponding negative thoughts. People who think happy, peaceful and relaxing thoughts are not anxious, overwhelmed or depressed.
Connection of Negative Thinking to Chronic Depression
- Negative thinking is a survival strategy that causes us to look for what is wrong so that we can protect ourselves against danger, but it is a very bad strategy because our thoughts actually create reality. So instead of preventing bad things from happening, we are telling the quantum mind to materialize them.
- We are programmed by our parents, teachers and society how to think. If those who brought us up thought negatively, and most of them did, we learned to do the same.
- Our negative beliefs about ourselves and the world cause us to have negative thoughts. If you believe that you are unworthy, your thoughts will support that belief.
Traumatic Life Events at the Root of Many Cases of Anxiety and Depression
They revealed that the single biggest determinant of chronic anxiety and depression was traumatic life events, followed by to a lesser extent, family history of mental illness, income and education levels, relationship status and other social factors.
Whilst we can’t change a person’s family history or their life experiences, it is possible to help a person to change the way they think and to teach them positive coping strategies that can mitigate and reduce stress levels.
This is key, as it means that you are not powerless against depression and anxiety. Rather, it’s possible to modify the way you think about traumatic life events in order to minimize their impact on your mental health. Antidepressant drugs, of course, will do nothing to help in this regard.
Depression is your body’s defense mechanism against the ill-effects of chronic negative thinking. Depression ‘turns down’ all emotional responses. Without depression, your body must deal with the constant fight-or-flight stress response that is the result of chronic negative thinking. Depression literally depresses the effects of negative thinking by numbing-you-out to fear, but depression is not selective so you also become numb to other emotions, such as love and joy.
In order to wake up from depression, you must overcome the fear-based thinking that has created the need for depression. This means that you can turn off depression by turning off negative thinking.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines a major depressive episode as “a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.” This falls in line with what Matthew Hutson, in a new feature for Nautilus, describes as the disease model of depression: that depression is “a breakdown, a flaw in the system, something to be remedied and moved past.” In his compelling and challenging piece, Hutson profiles several researchers who advance an argument that depression can serve a possibly positive purpose in the lens of evolution. But rather than deifying evolution and trying to scry out what it meant for us, let’s focus on what’s more immediately useful for lived human lives today: that, in some circumstances, depression may be, in the arc of a life, yielding of insights and personal meaning. All of this is in no way meant to minimize the suffering that depression can cause — but to suggest the uses that it may serve.
Following this logic, if the job of a depressive episode is to figure out what’s gone awry, what emotional knots need to be untangled, what attachment patterns need to be identified and addressed, then antidepressants are an incomplete treatment, just like you wouldn’t prescribe Percocet to a heal a broken ankle without also supplying a cast.
There are even larger, structural issues around the culture and industry of mental health at work here: If the healing of depression requires not just an alleviation of symptoms but a reworking of patterns within a person’s psychology
Since it is subjective, the problems and solutions will be personal — of the person and their particular psychological history — and thus demand the individualized understanding of the sufferer of depression, perhaps with the assistance of a skilled therapist. That’s another theme: While disengagement from emotionality characterizes depression and other disorders, engagement with one’s inner world looks to to be the way out. Put more poetically: You exit through the wound.
Six Additional Factors for Improving Your Mental Health
1. Exercise – If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain. It also helps to normalize your insulin and leptin signaling.
2. Eat a healthy diet – A factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, and eliminating artificial sweeteners will eliminate your chances of suffering its toxic effects.
3. Optimize your gut health – Fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables are also important for optimal mental health, as they are key for optimizing your gut health. Many fail to realize that your gut is literally your second brain, and can significantly influence your mind, mood, and behavior. Your gut actually produces more mood-boosting serotonin than your brain does.
4. Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats – I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be the single most important nutrient to battle depression.
5. Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. One previous study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.
6. Address your stress – Depression is a very serious condition, however it is not a “disease.” Rather, it’s a sign that your body and your life are out of balance. This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as an “illness,” you think you need to take a drug to fix it. In reality, all you need to do is return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress. Meditation or yoga can sometimes help. If weather permits, get outside for a walk. But in addition to that you can also use EFT, as mentioned.
When Tess Kearns and her husband started an all-natural catering company in Chicago last year, the responsibilities of running a new business and raising two kids were super-consuming. “I found myself with a late mortgage and not enough business and racing to learn new skills to keep it all going,” says Tess. “But I didn’t feel like I was worn-out. I just felt like I had a heavy load to carry.”