Friday, September 4, 2015

What we do with our brain matters

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do after something strikes us is to deal with our thoughts.

And what we do with our thoughts really, really matters because it impacts our future experience.

We have the option of feeling sorry for ourselves playing victim.
We can run revenge scenarios.
We can fake happy and deny it ever happened.

Or we can mourn whatever was lost, sit with the pain, and realize that whatever evil touches us does not diminish the good.

Darkness never eradicates light.  It is the other way around.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What if depression is the art of not wanting anything?

There is a serious connection between depression and desire.

How do I know this?  Failure-to-thrive syndrome.

When babies are born, they want things.  Letting out big screaming wails when they are hungry.  And while there are some physical factors that can cause failure-to-thrive, one thing that does it for certain is emotional deprivation.  Infants that experience hostility, rejection or withdrawal of a parent lose the gusto of curiosity and the desire for food which causes them to fail to grow.

My premise is that grown-up humans who experience hostility, rejection or the emotional withdrawal of those around them also fail to thrive.  (I'm not saying this is the only cause of depression, but I do believe it plays a role in the majority.)  Further, I think we can create this by rejecting ourselves when there is dissonance in our own belief systems.

I've heard depression framed as frozen anger, loss of hope, giving up...but I'm curious if it is a little more core that that going down to believing that our desires either cannot be fulfilled or are not deserved.

Forget what the media sells us in peddling sex, material possessions and beauty--those are just plastic offerings that play to our more basic desires.  Our desire to be loved...our desire to have purpose...our desire for pleasure... What if part of the key to overcoming depression has something to do with identifying what you want? With identifying the core desire that you believe will never be met.

When I've spoken with friends and people I'm mentoring who are in emotional distress, they often can't identify what they want. Yet as we talk, beliefs get uncovered that reveal that they think what they want is wrong or that they aren't worthy of achieving their desire.

What we want matters.  It connects with our identity.  It's the reason so many bios include "Joe Smith enjoys watersports and spending time with his family."

How long has it been since you spent time thinking about what it is you really want?  Desires can be big or small, and I've found that often by connecting with the small desires we can awaken the bigger ones.

If that scares you...good.  Fear is an emotion that keeps us under lock and key.  It's best to reveal it so that we realize it is trapping us. It isn't just what we want that matters; how we get what we want also matters. We have to do it in healthy ways that engage the world around us rather than abusing it. But we can't even go there unless we spend time with our desire.  Being comfortable with the longing while we seek is part of the plot.

Monday, August 31, 2015

We choose what we see

We choose what we see

My neighborhood is full of what John and I call the "alley bunnies." The cottontails come out at dusk and dawn feeding on the clover in suburban lawns.

I think they are beautiful. Ears twitching. Noses wiggling. The flash of a white tail when they are startled. In short, the bunnies delight me.

Yet, I heard a neighbor talking about the bunnies as a great nuisance. They poach from his garden. They are everywhere. They need to be eradicated.

How can two people see such completely different things? Is it because we've had different experiences with the bunnies? Maybe. But I think the more important issue is the elements we focus on.

We choose if we see something delightful or annoying.
We choose if we see an opportunity or something new to be avoided.
We choose if we see something hard or something worthy of our effort.

We choose what we see.