Recapture Your Vision by Pushing Back Depression and Negative Thinking
Have any idea what this photo is? It is actually a hood ornament with clouds and sky in the background. Your perspective can mess with your head from time to time.
I love being an entrepreneur, it can be a bit chaotic at times, but one of the things that keep me going is vision. Whether you have a job, are self-employed, in school or involved in a vocational quest you need a vision. An idea of what you want to end up with when you have done the work.
I was reviewing some notes from reading I have done over the years and came across a great definition of vision. Hopefully, it will help you. You see, where there is no vision, no dream, no hope, there is little life. When you are depressed, the vision can become muddled.
Here is a definition: Vision is a precise, clearly defined goal with a detailed plan and timetable for achieving that result.
Just to be clear, you can have a vision for your business, your body, your relationships, your health, pretty much anything. One of the problems is that most people have wishes, but no vision-based plans.
When you lose that vision, the joy of living becomes replaced with the mere act of surviving or just getting by. You move from joy to subsistence to depression and ultimately to despair. Personally, I do not know anyone who aspires to despair.
The good news, gaining a clear picture, a vision of what you want and what you are willing to do to get it can be a tremendous energizer. Particularly if it honors the Lord and serves man.
So, if you are having “Vision Issues,” here are some things you can do to push back the negative thinking and depressive feelings,
One of the things that happens when we experience set back is a tendency to suffer from the “paralysis of analysis,” which can be a vision stealer.
Step Back from the Problem
When Thomas Edison felt stumped by a problem, he removed himself from the work area, lay down, and took a little nap. Years before the research on power napping was available, he understood the importance to stepping back from a problem to get a better perspective. Taking a break from the problem can lead to a fresh perspective.
There are ways to put this principle into practice.
1. Stop. Quit putting needless energy into solving a problem that isn’t getting solved. Dr. John Gottman, relationship expert, says that we need to focus on what is fixable, not on past failures.
2. Do something completely different. Choose to swim, go for a walk, take a break, call a friend, pray, read the Bible. It should be a repetitive activity that gets your undivided attention and absorbs, redirects, and gives you energy. Ten to twenty minutes is usually enough time to reset.
3. Observe what happens about the issue when you return your thoughts to it.
Here is a question for you. Are you caught up in the "paralysis of analysis" or are you Stepping Back from the Problem to clear your head? I would love to hear from you. #getagripondepression #AskJohnthurman
Push Back Depression Tip # 5: Re-energize
Depression is an energy eater. If you have ever struggled against depression, you know that it can suck the life right out of you. It drains your energy, heart, mind, body, and soul.
The good news is, you can fight back, and you do not have to let the darkness pull the life out of you.
One of the best ways to re-energize yourself is to monitor your mouth. Depressed people tend to talk depressed using sad words and sad tones--much like Eeyore.
Using negative language when you talk to yourself, especially when you consistently feel helpless and hopeless, is a sure-fire way to keep feeling depressed. Multiple studies on negative self-talk show how gloomy and unhelpful words and thoughts increase depression and anxiety. Making small changes in the way you verbalize can have an enormous, positive impact on the way you feel. And the best thing about this idea, it doesn’t cost a penny. Here is a couple of examples.
You can feel better if you drop the phrase “I can’t.” Instead, try saying, “I won’t.” This tiny shift in language, changing one four-letter word for another, can have a huge positive impact on your mood. Learn to say it loud and proud.
Instead of saying, “I can’t get out of bed,” say, “I won’t get up in the morning.”
“I can’t feel enthusiastic about my business,” becomes, “I won’t become enthusiastic about my business.”
These small shifts in your verbiage will have a powerful impact on how you feel. When you do this, you move from a position of impotence and powerlessness into choice, which opens up possibilities. When you make this subtle shift, what you are saying is, “My thoughts and my actions are under my control.” That is a powerful statement.
Proverbs 18:21a says “The tongue can bring death and life…” (NLT)
My challenge to you is to be intentional about re-energizing yourself with your words.
John is a Licensed Counselor, Speaker, Publish Author, and International Crisis Response Specialist who lives in Albuquerque.
Last summer I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a some training as a Crisis Response Specialist. I stayed over a couple of extra day to experience Lake Michigan. My friends told me to check out Grand Haven Beach and I did. What a delight to see people enjoying a day at the beach. Walking out to the light house I noticed a group of local teens jumping off the pier. They were having an absolute blast. You can check out some of my shots on my flickr account.
One thing was for certain, they were having a blast.
As we continue to look at ways to beat the blues, to push back depression, to overcome the negative things in
One of the practical things you can do to push back depression is to bump up your positive experiences
Sasha had been volunteering as the women’s ministry director in her church for the past three years. She led the ministry through the ups and downs including power struggles and emotional drama. She spent hours in prayer and in personal study. The other night she told her husband, Leo, that she thought she was done.
For the next half hour she cried, complained, and released all the frustrations that had built up. Leo was wise that night. He said, “Do you need a hug?” The next morning Sasha asked Leo what she should do. Once again he wisely said, “Call a couple of your girlfriends and go have some fun.”
She did. She and two of her girlfriends spent some Kohl’s bucks and then went to Starbucks.
One of the classic effects of depression is stealing your sense of pleasure. Without some pleasurable experiences woven into your life, you can descend into the dull grayness of depression.
Being intentional about having pleasurable experiences is one way to overcome the low motivation that can be a part of depression.
Here is one proven plan for boosting your pleasure.
1. Record every activity you do for the next three to five days.
2. Answer the following question for each activity: Was it pleasurable? Yes or No?
3. For each pleasurable activity, rate it from 1 to 10 -- 1 being the least pleasurable and 10 being the most.
Robin Williams’ memory, his acting, his stories and comedy sketches will live on through video clips and the internet. Hopefully, we will take some lessons from the loss of this extraordinary actor, comedian, and exceptional communicator.
Depression can be a quiet killer. It is a disorder that is widely experienced and yet few people seek treatment for it.
According to the CDC, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010. The CDC report also states that there were 38,364 suicides in the U.S—an average of 105 each day.
In looking at gender issues, the same report stated that males are four times more likely than females to commit suicide, and represent 79% of all U.S., suicides.
While suicide prevention and intervention programs are a must, we can take better care of ourselves and others if we know how to push depression back.
The next several blogs will give you tools you can use to battle the blues, to push back depression. These concepts are found in my book Get a Grip on Depression. It is also available on Amazon/Kindle and can be ordered through your local bookstore.
Depression robs you by making you feel inadequate and worthless. As bad as robbery sounds, you and I always have choices in how we respond to what life throws at us.
Suggestion # 1 Stop saying bad things about yourself.
There is a great line from Kelly’s Heroes, a Clint Eastwood anti-warwar movie where Donald Sutherland’s character does an excellent job confronting the negative ways-check out this clip.
One of the things you can do for yourself is to focus on what you appreciate about your life, yourself, and your situation. While this is a simple concept, it may be a difficult task, particularly if you have been under the heaviness of depression. Part of getting better is to begin to stop speaking the nagging, negative thoughts that so easily slip into your mind when you are depressed.
In the place of negative thoughts and words, try noticing what you do appreciate about yourself. No matter how bad you feel, there are good things about you.
Try this assignment. Make a list of at least three things that you appreciate. Here are a few suggestions to consider adding to your list:
A good listener
A loyal friend
A fresh, warm chocolate chip cookie
The purpose of this exercise is to help you begin to push back the dark, consuming, negative thoughts and focus on the good around you.
I love the line from Kathryn Stockett’s book and movie The Help, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” These are keeper phrases because you are all of those and more. Here is the clip.
Monday, I will have the next tip for pushing back depression.
John is a licensed counselor with over 35,000 in the people helping business. He is also a speaker, author, and crisis response specialist.
Laughter, Joy, tenderness, and passion are things that come to mind when I think of Robin Williams. Another attribute I admired was his ability to be vulnerable. For years he talked about his struggle with addictions, depression, and open heart surgery.
He had struggled a great part of his adult life with a brain disorder which included severe depression, which in many cases co-exists with addictions. Even with treatment, support from friends and family and remarkably successful career, mental illness can still end up killing a person.
As a Christ follower, I have been somewhat discouraged by some of the “faith-based” blogs I have seen about suicide. As a seasoned professional, I have come to see that individuals who come to the edge of the black hole of suicide are not in their right mind. Isolation, depression, and hopelessness steal the individual of their ability to look forward to the possibilities of hope and relief. I believe in a God that is at His core Compassionate, one who weeps with those who weep, one who feels sadness, and one who mourns with those who mourn.
We need to respond to hurting friends, neighbors, and relative with compassion.
Here are some facts about suicide and depression. I trust that you will find this helpful.
The following is from my book Get a Grip on Depression:
Over 90% of people who commit suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder. Many times, people who commit suicide have a substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.
Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors, such as clinical depression, may lead to death. But suicide and suicidal behaviors are never normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include:
• One or more prior suicide attempts
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
• Always talking or thinking about death
• Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
• Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
• Losing interest in things one used to care about
• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• Saying things like, “It would be better if I were nothere” or “I want out."
• Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• Talking about suicide
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Prior suicide attempts (According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20 and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt)
What you can do if you have suicidal thoughts:
• Talk with trusted friends, family members, or others you respect who can assist you
• Talk with your doctor, mental health professional, or pastor. Many times, talking eases or removes suicidal urges. In some cases though, hospitalization is necessary until a sense of balance can be restored.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a local hotline to speak with a crisis counselor.
John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Speaker, and Author.
Here is an ancient thought that could provide encouragement.
Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Click this link for a Free Depression Test
This is the third and final blog of the 10 steps for Surviving a Rough and Tumble world. Here is a quick review of the first seven.
1. Practice optimism.
2. Find a resiliency model.
3. Develop a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs.
4. Practice generosity and kindness.
5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility.
6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions.
7. Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.
8. Establish and maintain a supportive social network to help you.
Dr. George Bonanno's research, in his book The Other Side of Sadness, points out one of the ways that people and cultures move beyond trauma, depression and other life events is through community, family, and other networks of people that give us courage, motivation, and shared history to move forward. His research also reveal how important family, friends, and community are in dealing with depression. Learn more about this is my book, Get a Grip on Depression.
Hebrews 10:23-25 - “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now...(NLT)
9. Stay physically fit. One I need to work on. Dr. Oz suggests starting out with walking 30 minutes a day. It is a start.
1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20 - “Don’t you realize that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (NLT)
10. Laugh deep and often.
Whether it be some "Old School Comedy" like the Three Stooges or more modern comedians like Steve Harvey or Robin Williams, be sure to find something or someone that can help you keep life on the light side.
As sad as the loss of Robin Williams is, his humor and zany impressions, and his care for people will live on through the volume of work that he created over his life.
Proverbs 17:22 - “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (NLT)
Author Ben Sherwood, The Survivors Club, was surprised when Dr. Charney shared the most-surprising insight of his career is "the hidden capacity most people to rebound from adversity."
One ancient Latin phrase says it best, Plus estem voius.” There is more in you than you know. Lean into life today.
My next three part series will include some thoughts about depression in men, Robin Williams, and practical things you can do to help someone who is struggling with depression.
Shades of Grey or Shades of Love Part 2
“It is a luxury to be understood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.
One of the keys to building intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.
Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.
1. Give full attention to your partner when talking. My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turn off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.
2. Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good. People tend to rise or fall on our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.
3. Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs. One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using "I" statements versus "you" statements. (e.g. “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)
4. Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer. I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.” You can never share too much encouragement.
5. If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. "I appreciate it when you help out by cooking, the food is excellent. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)
6. Listen to understand, not to judge. Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.
7. Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your own reactions of feelings.
8. Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution. There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.
9. Manage your conflict. (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)
10. Seek counseling. If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action. Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.
One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard, they usually are open to more intimacy.
Next week I will be writing about the five levels of intimacy.
To spice up your love life check out my talk on the 5 Phases of Marriage
6 Thinking Styles to Avoid
by John Thurman
Have you ever noticed how quickly your mind can get distracted? Things seem to be just fine and then out of nowhere you begin to have these intrusive, negative thoughts? Thankfully, it is a problem nearly every human being experiences from time to time.
Today, I am going to give you a quick overview of the Top Six “Stinking Thinking” patterns that I address in my book, Get a Grip on Depression. I will also give you some key questions to ask as well as practical things to do to lower the impact of these negative thinking patterns.
Here they are:
Jumping to conclusions: Being confident about the situation despite having little or no evidence. Action Plan:Slow down: Do I have any evidence to show I have been wronged or am I jumping the gun?
Mind Reading: Assuming you know what the other person is thinking, or expecting him or her to fully understand what you are thinking. Action Plan: Speak Up: Did I express myself fully, so the other person didn’t need to try to read my mind? Or did I ask for information from the other person rather than attempting to read his or her mind?
Me, Me, Me: Believing you are the sole cause of every problem. Action Plan:Look outward: How did others or circumstances contribute to my current situation?
Them, Them, Them: Believing other people or circumstances are the cause of every problem you encounter. Action Plan: Look inward: How did I control or fuel my situation?
Always, Always, Always: The belief that adverse events are unchangeable and that you have little or no control over them. Action Plan: Grab control: What can I change? What can I influence?
Everything, Everything, Everything: Thinking you can judge a person or your own worth, motivation, or ability on the basis of a single situation. Action Plan: Look at behavior: What specific behavior explains my situation?
2 Corinthians 10:5 ...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NLT)
For a more in-depth look at these patterns as well as some scriptural stories that illustrate them check out pages 77-93 in Get a Grip on Depression. Also available at Amazon and Kindle.
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."