We walk around with stories or theories in our heads constantly, everyday. We have stories and theories about why things have happened and what will result if certain things happen. Sometimes our theories and stories are so strong and we are so convinced that they are accurate that it takes over our lives and we see no other way. They can be negative and they can be positive.
And we have a choice.
In Dr. Gottlieb ‘s book, “Learning from the Heart”, which I have previously written a couple posts about, one of his life lessons he writes about is how theories are just that, theories. They may or may not be true. You may have a negative theory in your head such as “If I don’t get a promotion at my job, I’ll never have more than I have now, I’ll be stuck getting paid next to nothing, I’ll never move on…” or “I went out with him and he hasn’t called me in two days that means he doesn’t like me and I ‘ll never see him again!”
First of all, your theory may not even be correct at all. Just because you don’t get a promotion now doesn’t mean you never will or that you’ll be stuck forever. You may accidentally stumble upon a new opportunity or you can work extra hard and find a new job. And you really have no clue why the boy/girl doesn’t call you back. Maybe he’s sick or extra busy or stressed. Maybe he totally lost your number. Maybe he doesn’t want to look desperate. Or….maybe you are correct! Maybe he’s just not that into you.
We should choose theories or stories that benefit us until we find out the truth. Let’s not go walking around with the worst theory ever. Let’s keep an open mind to limitless possibilities. And the second lesson is that it will seriously benefit us to ponder the worst theory, our worst fear. What if he doesn’t like you? What if you’re being rejected? What if he found someone he likes better? What if you don’t get promoted? What if you don’t get the job? What if it doesn’t all go as planned?
Let’s imagine the worst so we can imagine how we will cope when the worst does in fact happen. As long as we live, bad things will happen to us and we must learn to cope, heal, move forward & live with it.
So it will benefit us to keep an open mind, not assume the worst but KNOW that if the worst is true we will live and keep going.
One of Dr. Gottlieb’s examples is when his editor at the “Philadelphia Inquirer” severely criticized one of his columns. Dr. Gottlieb was devastated and experienced strong unpleasant emotions like terrible anxiety and self -reproach. He imagined getting fired or quitting this job he loved so much. For a few days he lived as if he were no longer a columnist. Then his fear decreased quickly.
Dr. Gottlieb also experienced fear before his surgeries which he had to have after his tragic accident. He feared death and imagined what life would be like for his girls if he were to die. He chose to just be with his fear instead of repressing it or running or denying it. Eventually the fear dissipated. Bad things will happen to us every now & then but we will get by. Just sit with your fears and emotions. Let them run through you, acknowledge them.
Think of a current or previous situation you have been faced with where you had a theory, a negative one. Where you jumped to the conclusion that the worst was/is true and that you would not be able to handle it.
What if you changed your theory that you felt so strongly is/was true? What if your conviction is off? As Dr. Gottlieb states: “To let go of something we’ve always believed in requires a leap in faith – trust in something that is unknowable. And I think the task for all of us is to have faith in our own resilience. When that happens, we are exposed to many more possibilities.”
Take that leap of faith. It may be uncomfortable to let go of something you have felt so strongly for so long but move outside that comfort zone to better things.
There are so many less dramatic theories we can be having in our heads.
Maybe the friend who ignored you on the street wasn’t paying attention, maybe you were rejected for a job for lack of experience, not lack of qualification or intelligence, maybe the person who doesn’t like you back is just not compatible with you and there’s nothing wrong with you, maybe if you lose your job something better will come along…..
So why not have faith in a more positive theory or be open to the fact that any theory may be accurate but still know that you CAN survive the worst and you WILL survive!
Keep on going!
Also here’s an update for anyone who knows I have been struggling so, so hard with depression and anyone who cares. My depression is so much worse than it has been in a while but nowhere near as bad as it used to get sometimes. Today I had a few brief suicide “visions”/fantasies but not plans or contemplation. I’m working hard to avoid that.
If you want to take your mind off certain thoughts, it’s best to not directly try to avoid those thoughts or feelings or they will likely become stronger. Instead try to distract yourself and escape the bondage by doing something pleasant to take your “mind” off it. I have been thinking/reading about Philosophical theories on various things. I love Phil. And I attended college for it and took it just for fun. I felt it helping me today
I got fed up and took 15mg of Abilify, usually I take 5. 10 works better but the psychiatrist I used to have is afraid of permanent side effects and so he lowered the dosage years ago. It still does work though. But sometimes I take it upon myself to up the dosage when I feel like it. Someone at the mental health clinic gave me strong samples so I took them. I am having a few unpleasant side effects currently like severe muscle spasms & headache, horrible fatigue. But it’s all good.
I hope you are having a great day and find some consolation & strength & hope. I am so happy I learned personal development/self help techniques to help me along with medication. Years ago when I would be depressed I wouldn’t usually know what to do. I try not to dwell on the negativity of this and instead tackle it and see it as a challenge and find creative ways to handle it. Some moments I feel I can go either way, be sucked into a severe Depressive episode or go the other way and hold on til this ends. I’m holding on for now!
And I hope you will too if you’re having some challenges and struggles no matter what they may be. See if you can be creative and find various ways to cope with it instead of giving in to despair.
“I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don’t ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?
Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day?
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day” ~ Wilson Phillips (“Hold On” lyrics)
Baby, hold on for one more day. Everyday!