When I was young, I was extremely unhappy. I was amazed to find out that not everyone had suicidal thoughts. I had a few people in my life to show me that I had some worth as a human, but not a lot of support from my main family unit. I know that a lot of us have come from the same place.
For my case, it was really the times that we lived in. The generation that my mother came from was taught to never speak of their troubles with anyone outside the home, and Psychiatry was still viewed as something for severe schizophrenics, not for your semi-functioning individuals. We as a society were just starting to see the worth in evaluating ourselves and our thinking, but most people kept everything repressed due to shame and/or conditioning. The majority was prone to say, “That’s just the way I am”, and leave it at that.
I saw a few people in my life that were not depressed all the time, that were genuinely happy, and I wanted that. In the early 80’s I began to read self help books, and attending regular group therapy sessions.
During the self-help craze of that time, we slowly began to examine who we were, where we came from, which leads to the next logical step…where are we going?.
The pioneers in the field of depression wrote books that explained ideas that were totally new to me, and were of great help to me. They explained that our emotions are caused by out thoughts, and we control our own thoughts, so ultimately, we control our emotions. We were conditioned by our environment, society, family, etc., to think specific ways, whether they were helpful or hindering. What we could accomplish, however, was to break from the thinking that was negative, and promotes positive thinking in ourselves. This would in turn produce positive emotions for us. We were challenged to accept that we are a culmination of our choices, and not a slave to our circumstances.
I took this idea, and I ran with it. Every time that I would hear myself say that I wasn’t worth anything, I would stop myself and change that into a positive. I am worth something. I am here for a reason, and I am in control of myself. It was hard, because my negativity was habitual, so the very first thing was to recognize what I was saying to myself, before I could change it into something self-affirming. But I stuck to this, and kept chasing my happiness, until it became habitual to change the negative into a positive. Not that I still don’t berate myself sometimes, but that I almost immediately analyze what I’m doing, and change it. It’s become my habit now.
When I become anxious and nervous and scared, I would commence to do something I call “talk myself down out of the trees”. In my mind, I visualized an agitated monkey screaming and jumping from limb to limb, accomplishing nothing. I would have an internal dialogue like, “O.K., girl, let’s calm down and see what’s going on…figure out what’s important. You don’t need to be freaking right now…”. This exercise has been of tremendous value to me. At one point in my life, I started to have anxiety attacks, and I had already practiced this technique for quite a few years, so I used it when I had these attacks. It worked like a charm. And after about 6 months, I didn’t have any more attacks. And I never had to seek out drugs to moderate my mood.
I can say that for the most part, I am genuinely happy. I realize that I have worth and real gifts to give to the world. Because I have practiced positive thinking and temperance in my emotional state, I have come to a place where I can trust myself not to go to far out “into the trees”. That even though I have the occasional ‘back-slides’, I can bring myself out of them and get myself back to a state of calm and love. I can do this, because it was my dream to have happiness, and I pursued the teachings of happiness, and I practiced the exercises of happiness.
I’m telling you that you can do the same.
♥ LOVE ♥