When emotional pain starts to pull us down, we tend to react in ways to rid ourselves of the feelings by suppressing, dismissing, judging or trying to think our way out of them. We try so desperately to move against the experience, to resist. In the process, we dredge up past regrets and conjure up future worries. In our heads, we try out this solution or that, and it doesn’t take long for us to start feeling worse for failing to come up with a way to alleviate the suffering. We get lost in comparisons of where we are versus where we want to be, soon living almost entirely in our heads.
We become preoccupied. We lose touch with the world, with the people around us, even with those we love and those trying to love us. We deny ourselves the rich input of the full experience of living. It’s no wonder we get discouraged and prone to feeling that there is nothing we can do. This is where mindful awareness can play a huge role. It helps to disengage from the endless cycles of mental strategizing that lead to hopelessness and a sense of failure. We can find strategies to move toward.
- Notice – describe the emotion(s) that are here for you. Can you locate them in the body?
- Know – there may be a message in this experience for you. What does the emotion want you to know?
- Need – what does this emotion need from YOU?
In other words, don’t try to solve the depression by fruitlessly trying to fix yourself. Learn to deflect it at its incipience. There’s nothing wrong with you. Trying to extricate yourself invariably makes things worse. Therefore, the only way to defeat depression is to not play the game and instead, move toward with compassionate and curious inquiry.