An Important Reminder About Your Skills

 

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Depression has a funny way of giving you constant reminders about your inadequacies. It whispers these lies in your ear, waiting for its moment to strike. The worst part of it is that you believe them. You believe that you are inferior to others, that you are misunderstood, that nothing good will ever happen in your life.

People are unique. Everyone has a toolkit of skills and talents that they can use any way they choose. No one’s toolkit is empty. There is always something there.

Sometimes we forget about the things that we are good at. Sometimes we ignore them because they don’t conform to the expectations of ourselves or others. Often, we downplay them so much that we forget that they are even there.

Common phrases to watch out for:

“So-and-so is better than me at painting. I can never paint like them.”

“This person is a better writer than me. I am just a hack.”

“This other person always comes up with the best ideas. It’s hard for me to find solutions.”

“So-and-so is more successful than I am. My ideas and thoughts could never be as valuable as him/her.”

And it goes on and on. We can easily sniff out the assets that others possess and yet fail to extend that same generosity to ourselves.

 

A Brief Story

A friend named John (name changed for privacy reasons) had been feeling off for the past couple weeks. He was exhausted and unmotivated, exhibiting the classic depression-symptoms.

I’ll keep things brief and dwindle this down to his current problem: his job. John was caught in the middle of two managers, feuding over how the company had to be run (the company in question is fairly small, relying on a few projects to keep going). John had been asked to oversee the day-to-day operations of a major project.

He felt lost in the middle of the constant child-like bickering, as if he was being overlooked. His efforts were never appreciated, and he would often receive a lot of criticism should something go wrong. All of this stress was building up. It got to the point where he began to give up.

Now, John felt like a failure. It was understandable where this came from because he was focusing on pleasing both managers and striving to keep the project afloat.

But, that wasn’t his job.

John couldn’t see that he was naturally charismatic. People flocked to him constantly! He had dismissed this as just another insignificant trait that would only be useful for making new friends.

John was also very smart. He held all of this information and bits of trivia in his brain that it would amaze anyone who witnessed it. Again, this was dismissed as nothing more than “useless information”.

Since some of his skills were not being utilized, it just meant that he was not doing that which would make him happy. Being yelled at by two bosses is never a fun environment, but it provided the perfect excuse to re-evaluate himself and figure out who he wanted to be and the types of things that would re-energize him.

 

What This Means for You

I like to say that a person who is depressed is just a person who has been forced to live a life of repression. It’s no one’s fault. It happened. Now, we need to learn to give ourselves permission to do what we want to do.

So today, I want you to think about the things that you are good at.

No, you can’t say “I’m not good at anything”. Push past that instinct and really try.

I’ll give you the opportunity to cheat a little because I understand how difficult this really can be. Take a quick MBTI test. There’s a good free one here: https://www.16personalities.com/

I’m sure we all know about the Meyers-Briggs personality test. Just try to see if anything resonates with you. If there are things you disagree with, that’s fine. It isn’t 100% accurate.

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If you feel like trying out a paid strengths test, you can go to: https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/

This gives you a breakdown of your top 5 skills and tries to analyze how you think and what success means to you.

 

If you have another website or another way to try to discover your strengths, please feel free to use that. They give you a chance to take a glimpse into your skills toolkit.

 

Why This Matters

It is important to focus on the things that you are good at. It is important to nurture your skills. It takes time to develop and cultivate them into something that you can use, so don’t get frustrated.

Depression will tell you that you have nothing to offer. Sometimes, we need a reminder that we are all capable individuals, just stuck in a temporary bind. The key word is “temporary”. The little depression monster will disappear. You will feel better about who and what you are.

Utilize your strengths and turn it into something spectacular. I believe that you can do it. I know that it is there within all of us. We, as depression conquerors, have an edge over everyone else. We have the opportunity to explore who we are and make daring changes to better ourselves.

Closing Remarks:

Never apologize for the things that bring you happiness.

Never undermine the things that you are good at. It makes you who you are.

Always be open to new ideas and experiences. If you make mistakes, so be it. That’s how we learn.

 

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The Relapse

 

Here you are, finally breathing after months and years of depression. Everything is fine for a while and you are granted the chance to make the changes that you have been dreaming about for so long. Then, it happens. That same, disembodied fog wrapping around you, forcing you back down the hole you just came out of.

You don’t always know where it came from. What triggered it this time. What you did or forgot to do. You wake up, and recognize the symptoms of depression.

Before we go any further, I want you to know that this is just something that happens. No one is at fault. You will be okay again.

 

Moods

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Some people know what their triggers are. This is just a fancy way of saying that you know what it is that makes you feel depressed. What the underlying issues are. Even if you say you don’t, you may already have some inclination. Usually they involve things like being excluded, failing/doing poorly in something, loneliness, issues with weight, self-esteem, … etc., etc.

Sometimes, you can tell when your symptoms flare up again. Sometimes you can’t. In either case, most people don’t recognize depression until much later on, once it has already taken hold.

Why?

The simple reason is that it often happens gradually. Something upsetting happens. You believe that you’ve dealt with it (or ignored it). The emotions usually go unresolved and fester. But you know that you’ve conquered this all before. So, you ignore it. Again. But then, something happens that calls to your attention. And you recognize that depression has settled in. And it feels hopeless all over again.

 

How is this different from just a “bad day”?

Moods are like waves. You have days when you feel happy and days when you feel sad. Usually there is a “normal zone” that most people fall under. Anything higher can fall under manic happiness (or mania) and anything lower can be classified as depression (note: it’s not always one or the other. There are many, many factors that are involved with mood. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose whether you fall outside of the normal spectrum).

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Yes, I did this in Paint.

Being sad is not the same as being depressed. Sadness is usually more temporary, and about one specific thing that happened. It is like a reaction to an event/circumstance. But, it isn’t lasting.

Depression, on the other hand, doesn’t need anything specific. It is just … there. It colours your whole world in a dark cloud. Nothing feels the same. There is no joy. There is just … nothing. Endless nothingness. This is why it’s often hard to detect it. You aren’t upset, you just aren’t being. You withdraw from hobbies, from friends, from family, from everything.  Depression will last for months and years.

 

The Monster and the Pit

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Depression tends to lull you into submission. It feeds off of every single criticism that you have, amplifying words that people may have said in a fit of anger. The worse you feel, the happier it is. The words fill you like a siren song, luring you back into the depths of depression.

Don’t listen to it. Just like the sirens in mythology, they only want to lure you to destroy your spirits.

That’s easier said than done.

When the monster echoes words that are in your head, it’s easy to believe them. It reinforces a negative and gives it power over you. Of course it’s difficult not to listen.

I find it helpful to externalize the voice. Give the faceless whispers an image. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be scary (actually it’s better that it’s not scary). If you can remember to externalize the voice, it may help to get rid of it. You can tell it to shut up, yell it, call it names, and whatever else you want to do. Why? Because now you aren’t putting yourself down (thereby adding to your symptoms), you are silencing the voice. Once it finally mutes itself, even if it’s for a moment, you can begin to stabilize your mood.

Depression can be like a deep pit. You can see the sun far up in the sky, always out of reach, always reminding you of the darkness you live in. That sun represents all you want your life to be and what you think your normal should be.

Climbing out of the pit is difficult. The rocks could be jagged, it could be muddy down there, and the edges are too steep to climb. But you know you need to climb out. After all, digging deeper into it just makes things worse.

Remember that “normal” you want your life to be is just subjective. It doesn’t guarantee things will be better, it’s just another ideal. You have to remember that you are fighting through this, and with each victory over depression makes you stronger, wiser, and more capable than ever before.

You define your life. In order to feel happiness, you must remain flexible. Because what you know to be true today, could be proven false tomorrow. Focus on the end goal, whatever it may be. The path to the goal is irrelevant. It always was.

 

I want to remind you of one important fact: just because you have one or two “bad days” where you feel depression-like symptoms, it doesn’t mean that you have lost. Moods are always static. There will be ups and there will be downs.

 

Now, go forth and continue to vanquish your monsters.

 

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The Burnout Effect

We have all been here before. There are countless things still left on the to-do list, deadlines fast approaching, and you have no idea where to begin. We take on as much as we can if it offers a reprieve from another moment inside of your own head. You ride the wave for days, weeks, or months.

And then, it all falls apart.

Suddenly, you don’t have the energy to do a fraction of what you used to do before. The motivation just isn’t there. More than that, you’re exhausted. This is all another symptom of burning out.

 

Chipping Away At the Problem

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Usually, you burn out because of the mounting stress. Perhaps you have just agreed to an inhuman amount of work. Perhaps there are too many events that you had to commit to. Maybe it’s your job. Sometimes, it’s just your need to show the world how much you can do and how valuable you truly are. There is no right answer.

As depression sufferers, we have an added list of reasons for this. Usually it boils down to our own insecurity and self-worth (as is the case with most things). It sounds simple, but it always goes unnoticed.

Take a moment. Tell yourself that you have nothing to prove to anyone. Take a slow, deep breath, really noticing the air filling your lungs; hold it in for a few moments; then, slowly exhale, relaxing every muscle in your body (this includes that brain of yours). Repeat as many times as needed.

Done? Great!

Now, take another look at that to-do list. How much of that is actually important to do right now? Start tackling the most urgent thing first, by breaking it down into tiny little pieces.

For instance: You absolutely have to finish that essay that you’ve been putting off because it looks too complicated, but it’s due tomorrow (cue flashbacks to college days). The essay as a whole is intimidating. Break it down into smaller steps (ex: ensuring that you have done enough research, figuring out the core “sections” of the essay, getting the “easy” paragraphs out of the way, etc.).

Life works in a similar manner. Sometimes, if looking at the bigger picture doesn’t work, you break it down into smaller, manageable steps. Just a hint: there are always smaller steps to tackling a problem.

Someone once told me something important:
“You never look at how tall a mountain is until you reach the top.”

As in, a problem always looks bigger and more intimidating when you are at “the base of the mountain”. It’s only once you get started that you realize how big or small it really is.

 

Beware the Cycle

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Those of us who like to work as hard as possible to escape ourselves face another problem with burnouts – a cycle of behaviour.

Here’s how it looks (roughly speaking):

  1. The sense of accomplishments fuels your self-worth. You feel as if you have a handle on your situation. But, it’s not enough.
  2. You take on more assignments/projects, because after all, you handled the other ones so easily. The rest just have to end up the same way.
  3. Suddenly, you feel exhaustion. You try to take a break, but there’s just too much on your plate right now for that.
  4. The exhaustion continues. The easy tasks become a chore. You feel as if you are a failure because why can’t you just do this one little, simple task?
  5. The awareness creates another opening for depression.
  6. Somehow, you get on your feet, finishing that little task. You are invincible again.
  7. Repeat

The trick is to stop the cycle in its tracks. Realize when you are taking on too much. If you need help, ask for it. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. Every single person needs help with one thing or another. If you no longer can handle a task, so be it. Your well-being is much more important than anything else. People will understand.

 

Destressing

Make sure that you are doing something that relaxes you. Add one little item on your to-do list that makes you feel happy. Whether that is singing and dancing around, playing music, drawing, painting, knitting, writing, baking, … whatever it is that brings you joy. This is a high priority item, so make time for it.

No one has that kind of time! I have too much to do! 

You don’t need a lot of time. Even if you manage 10-15 minutes, that’s fine. Even 5 minutes.

Why?

Life is stressful. There are many, many obligations that we have. Taking some quality “me-time” makes a world of a difference. Do something good for you. Make yourself a priority in your life!

 

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The Truth About Time and Deadlines

Here we are. The end of the first week of 2018. This is a time of self-reflection and possibilities. We feel it all around us. There is this sense of realizing that anything can happen within the span of the next 12 months. Anything at all. I hope that you have a wonderful year, full of learning and happiness and growth.

Before you embark any further into your own personal journeys, I want to remind you about something important: we are not constrained to anyone’s timeline. Your life is your own. The lessons you learn along the way are yours too. It is unique and different to mine or anyone else’s that you meet.

 

The Dangers of Comparisons

I know that I have touched upon this earlier, but just to reiterate, don’t worry about what people are accomplishing around you. This is particularly important when you see all of your friends getting married, having kids, finding amazing jobs. You are left to wonder “why not me?”.

If you haven’t reached these milestones yet, it doesn’t matter. Not one bit.

But what do I say to my family or my friends when they ask me questions about my life?

That will happen. Unfortunately, you can’t filter out what people say. The most important thing is that you are confident in your decisions. You can be honest, hear the general outcries of disapproval, but in the end, they will (eventually) realize that you know what you are doing. How? By telling them the honest to goodness truth. Explain your opinions, your reasoning, whatever they may be.

Communication is key. The aftermath settles. Sometimes it just takes a bit longer.

 

Forcing Yourself Into the Status Quo

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Some people jump into things. I know I did. You probably have as well. There are pressures all around us – from family, friends, media – to get things done and get them done early in life.

“You’re 18! You should be going to university/college!”
“You’re almost 30! You should really settle down and have children!”
“You’re getting too old to be chasing after pipe dreams! Find a real job!”

Lies. All of them! I will not stand to hear comments like that.

What’s wrong with people saying that? I know that they are right. Everyone else is doing the same thing. Why am I so special to rebel?

These comments cause you to commit to things that you may not yet be ready for. You find yourself imprisoned in a marriage that you cannot stand, you find yourself unable to look after your children in the way you imagined, you find yourself in debt because you are enrolled in a program that you no longer care for.

Take your time. Some people are not ready to jump into things like this right away. Sometimes we aren’t ready or we aren’t prepared for the consequences. It’s not wrong, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you, … well, you!

Here’s the thing. Human beings, as a species, constantly adapt to our environments. It’s why we’re here today. Many, many years ago, we would only live for a short time. It became important to find a spouse before you were in your mid 20s, otherwise you wouldn’t have enough time to have children and watch them grow. That being said, you would also have to find a suitable career for your prospective family.

Now, we are living longer. We are surrounded by advancements in medicine and technology that allow us to extend our lifespan. The same rules no longer apply. So, go have fun with your time!

 

Re-Starting Later in Life

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I couldn’t resist.

This is a theme for many of us. The older you get, the more you see that it does happen. People realize that their career is not fulfilling, the person that they’re with is not making them happy, their lives are less than what they want. So, they pick things up. Perhaps age has a way of making someone less ashamed to do these things.

I’ve seen someone in their 40s enroll themselves in college to pursue a new career path. Many may have told her that she’s silly and that she may only get a few years in the new role before she would have to retire. So? Also, the sad reality is that many of us don’t retire at the “normal retirement age”.

I know someone who decided to try to learn how to play a guitar late in life. He enrolled himself in a program that primarily teaches children, but there he was.

If taking things slow allow you to live a life that you can be proud of, why would you ever want to change that? So, if you don’t hear this within this year, know that it is okay to take your time. We learn at different paces and life is a learning experience.

 

So, take a deep breath. Let go of the unattainable goals, and focus on what you want, what you need, in this very moment. Do you need a break? Take 5 minutes. Drink some water. Have some tea. Wherever you are, put yourself first and really mean it.

Let go of the end goal. The lessons you learn along the journey are far more important. The achievements are just the cherry on top.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Picking Up Where You Left Off

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I know, I know. I said I wasn’t going to add cheesy quotes…

Sometimes, we wake up and realize that we are no longer doing something that we once set out to do. You may have had everything ready for you to succeed, and yet, here you are. It’s been months since you stepped foot in a gym. Or, it’s been weeks since you’ve focused on your personal projects. Perhaps you haven’t been giving your personal life much attention.  

If no one tells you this today, I want you to know that this is perfectly normal. It is okay to take a breather every now and then. Don’t punish yourself. 

Now, you may be in a position where you don’t know how to pick up the habit once again.

How do you motivate yourself again? 

It’s not all that difficult.  

 

Just try it 

Yes, you’ve probably heard this one many times. So many times that it has become cliché. However, this cliché happens to be truthful. Just try. Take that step but be patient. That first line of the page, the first stroke of the brush, the first major meeting, and whatever else you find to be your first stepping stone may appear to be a monstrosity.  

Each and every day that you choose to meet the monster, that you choose to stay and fight, you will be rewarded. Once you take that first plunge into the old habit, things have a way of being slightly easier. Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you that life will be full of sunshine and rainbows and bunnies after the first step. However, by taking the first step into this old habit once more, you have proven that you have will. You will meet the obstacles you have faced once when you first started on your journey. Now, you have all the resources to beat them. And you will be victorious. If not, that’s fine. Small defeats are nothing compared to the end goal.  

 

Remind yourself Why 

We’ve all been here. You’re staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering, “why the hell am I doing this”. That is an important question. Try to answer it. Why are you doing this hobby or doing this specific thing? Once you have the answer, it becomes your weapon. Those tiny little reasons why you shouldn’t do this will dissipate because now you have a purpose.  

Failures are a part of life. Procrastination is human nature. The difference is what you choose to do once the fogginess and weariness drift away.  

It is also important to understand why you stopped. No, the answer isn’t that you are lazy or that you don’t care. There was a specific reason. Something happened. Knowing that allows you to understand what to expect when attempting this again.  

 

Facing the Criticisms  

Yes, we are all our own worst enemies. You slip and fall and you laugh at yourself. However, sometimes the opinions come from elsewhere. It’s difficult facing others when they seem to reiterate what you are thinking.  

First, understand that everyone is entitled to their way of thinking. None of us can change that. You will always meet people who will disagree with you and what you want to do. There will always be reasons why you should not do something.

How do you combat that? 

Just think of your reasons why you are doing whatever it is that you are doing. The ultimate goal is to achieve a sense of fullness and happiness in your life. If this is something that will grant you that, then the rest does not matter.

That’s easier said than done. 

The most important piece of advice that I can offer you is that your happiness should be a priority in your life. That does not mean you have to push people away. On the contrary, have a conversation! Your loved ones will support you once they realize how invested you are. It may take some time. It may not be easy. But, it will happen. Also, once you figure out why you are doing this, it will be that much easier to explain to others. Your words will carry the confidence of knowing what you expect to be the end result. Who can argue that?

 

So, go out there with your head held high. Small victories add up. Overtime, this will be easier.

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Depression and Weight

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Depression manifests itself in many ways. There are countless side-effects that fall under this balloon term. One side-effect is our relationship with food. Some overeat to compensate, and others cut food out of their lives. It’s not something that people understand or even acknowledge. But it is very real for so many of us. Including myself.

A little backstory

One morning, I found myself, staring at the numbers on the scale in disbelief. It read 250lbs. This was scary. More than that, I was angry. Angry at myself for letting it get this far. How could I not see that it was this bad? The reason was simple: I wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating. It was never a concern. How could it be with everything going on? My self-esteem took another hit, sending it spiraling to someplace lower that I thought possible.

After that, I stuck to a strict diet plan and exercise. I am happy to report that so far I have already dropped 60 lbs. Yes, there is still a long way to go, but the point in me telling you this is that it is possible. I am no one special. I don’t have a team of nutritionists or personal trainers. I’m just a girl who’s fighting to get her life back. You can do it. I believe in you.

And believe me, this fight is absolutely worth it.

Weight and Self-Image

Weight is always something that is a weak point for us. We strive to look a certain way, act a certain way, because somehow, it would solve all of our problems. No, weight cannot solve all of your problems. It’s just another aspect of you.

I know it’s hard to accept. After all, people always assume that an overweight person is lazy and stupid. They also assume that an anorexic person isn’t suffering. Be comfortable in your own skin. You define your own beauty. Beauty is more about the way you carry yourself. If you are confident, hold your head up high, and have fun, you will appear beautiful.

Don’t believe me? People are naturally drawn to someone who confidently strides into the room, unashamed of themselves. Try it one day.

Making Changes

              I know the question that you are asking. If everyone can be beautiful, why make changes? When do you make changes? How do you know you are doing this for the right reasons?

              Yes, these questions are harder to answer. It is different for each and every person. Ultimately, you should be making changes for you. No one else. Accept yourself and focus on your health and your life. No one else matters in this decision.  

 

So, go out there into the world and show them all how beautiful you truly are.

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The Body Image Crisis

Let’s face it. We all have concerns with the way we look. Things that we wish we could change. Whether that be your weight, your height, the amount of muscles you have, or even a specific part of your body that could be tweaked ever so slightly. We are all chasing an idea of perfection. Because somehow, achieving that perfect body will allow us to excel in our lives or give us the confidence that we know we have.

 

The Truth About Confidence

Confidence actually is just another by-product of happiness. Sounds too simple, right? The more that we work towards our happier selves, the more risks you are willing to take, the more your self-esteem rises, thereby boosting your confidence. All it takes is for you to finally invest some time and energy into yourself. No, it’s not selfish. No, you aren’t a horrible person for allocating some “you” time. People who care about you are more understanding than that. Just give them a chance.

Also, and this is pretty important, sometimes your confidence can rise simply by faking it. How? Act like you have that perfect body, or that perfect life. Nothing can bring you down today. You have that million dollars and you aren’t worrying about anything because everything is perfect.

It’s hard work. It truly is. Some days you may not even have the energy to keep it up but it is so worth it for one simple reason: you end up believing it.

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A great way to reinforce this is to talk to yourself, preferably in front of a mirror. Tell yourself everything that you need to hear. Listen to positive songs in the morning even if you don’t always want to. And more importantly, tell yourself “I feel great today”.

Your mind has a funny way of turning these simple affirmations into truths.

 

Media and Societal Pressures

We are surrounded by models, actors, and artists that look a certain way. As if somehow achieving this look would magically grant us success. At least now there is more inclusion of different races and body types being portrayed.

Understand that this is just another business. These people work so hard to look a certain way and maintain themselves. So don’t worry that you don’t look like that. Be proud of you. You are a constantly evolving, beautiful creature that does not deserve to worry about that.

If there are things that you wish to change (especially your weight), work towards it and celebrate every little victory and every little milestone that you reach. Do not work towards a change to achieve a certain look. Do it for what benefits it will provide you (for instance, your health, the increased energy, the ability to do more with your friends or your family).

People react based on the information that the media provides them. What is true today, may not be true tomorrow. What one person hates, another person loves. It all falls back down to you. You are you. You cannot change the colour of your skin, your background, or your race. So why bother?

The human race is built on uniqueness of each and every person. No one thinks 100% like you, acts like you, knows what you know. Cherish it.

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So, stop telling yourself that you’re too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, or just not good enough because guess what? You are. We all have a place in this chaotic little world.

Go out into the world and show them the power of you!

Accepting our Uniqueness

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I too am hoping that I will ease up on these quotes

No one is the same. Every single person you see has a story about who they are, where they come from, and what made them do the things they do. It’s quite fascinating to witness what decisions someone else comes up with given the same situations. It’s all based on what lessons that person has learned along the way.

In a similar way, depression is not the same for everyone. Each person feels differently, understands things differently, and thus each person has to vanquish their demons uniquely. Sure, the symptoms can be the same – the lack of focus, the fatigue, the lack of motivation. Our bodies also experience similar things – the reduced serotonin or the low norepinephrine (for instance). However, each person goes through it differently. For some the cause is one specific trauma. For others, it’s a series of complications.

So, this is just a friendly reminder that just because one person does something, it doesn’t mean that same thing is right for you. You are you. No one else can be you. No one else can live through what you have lived through. Your bravery and perseverance has led you to stand here today. It was a hard road to get to today but you are here nonetheless. Take a moment and appreciate all of the hard work that you have put to pick yourself up. Not everyone can do this. Seriously.

 

The Problems with Wanting Another’s Life

Truth moment. We have all seen (or heard) about someone’s life and wondered “why don’t I have that?”. You see or hear about their accomplishments – especially through social media. It gets worse if they are younger than you. That 23 year-old with a nice apartment and a fancy car?? How did that happen???

First, it’s okay to feel jealous. We are human after all. However, we cannot let it consume us. Let the thought pop in your head and then let it go. Why? Because it’s never easy. Perhaps that 23 year-old has worked night and day, studying hard, and getting that amazing GPA. They probably invested in tutors to help. Perhaps the same person has had years of understanding about investments through a parent or relative. They just know because that’s what they grew up hearing about.

These are all external things. On the inside, perhaps they are unhappy. They were forced to give up something they truly love to follow something else. Point being, no one has an easy life.

Now, think about it for a moment. Do you really want that life? I’m not talking about wanting the material possessions because I’m sure everyone will say “hell yes!”. I’m talking about what they go through every day. The stress, the bad neighbors, the controlling boss, the lack of free time.

For example, I know that I can’t be a model. Do I want to? No! Sometimes, it makes me wonder why I can’t look like them. Yet, their lives are incredibly difficult. The pressures that exist in the industry to look a certain way, to be a certain way, is tough. It requires someone who can withstand all of that.

Sure, it’s good to learn from others. Get diet advice, investment advice, or whatever else that person can impart on to you, but don’t try to emulate their life. It’s a recipe for disaster.

 

Happiness is Subjective

Here’s the thing. What one person likes, another person hates. Just look at any YouTube video. No matter how amazing something is, you will always find at least one person who hates it.

It’s good to try new things, but if you hate it, you hate it. There’s not much that you or I could do about that. Be selfish in this case and say “nope, not for me!”. But do try.

If you like to do something, don’t worry about how good you are at it. Everyone has to start somewhere. No one starts something as a masterful genius. Just do it for you and the joy it brings you. Who knows, maybe through one of your tries you find something that you really like to do! As Mr. Rogers says:

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Accept that you like something, don’t deny it. This is a part of you and it yearns to be expressed. So, if someone says you are a nerd, then accept it! You are a nerd! It’s liberating. It no longer becomes an insult. Words are only as powerful as you allow them to be.

 

Accepting your Limits

Let’s face it. There are things that we can’t do no matter how hard we try. For example, someone can be bad at math while someone else can be a human calculator. Now the person who is bad at math has to work harder to get through the various everyday problems we encounter (like calculating how much to tip at a restaurant). It is what it is. You can’t change that unless you work really hard and practice every day.

If we hate something, why would we waste our time? Therefore, maybe the person who is bad at math shouldn’t become a Mathematician. It is an overly simplified explanation, granted, but the core point is true. If you can’t do something, you can’t. No one but you is going to make a fuss. The rest of us will laugh it up.

Don’t worry about all the little things you have yet to master. If you want to learn how to do it, you will learn. If not, then we have apps and people to take care of it for us.

This is not the same as giving up. There are so many things to worry about so why worry about something you can’t do? I doubt Albert Einstein could have won a gold medal in an Olympic event. Yet, he is a genius. The point is, focus on what you like to do and what makes you eager to learn. Don’t define yourself by what you lack. You are much, much more than that.

 

Okay, I believe that I have droned on for long enough now. I wish you all the strength to accept yourself fully. For those of us Canadians out there, Happy Thanksgiving! Keep your head held high, no matter what circumstance you find yourselves in.

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The Importance of Forgiving Yourself

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Your cheesy quote of the day.

Another common trait of most sufferers of depression is the way that the past seems to haunt over us, shrouding the present. We are reminded about the things we have not yet accomplished, the things that we shouldn’t have done, and the things that have been said. The guilt and regret are debilitating.

So, why are you doing this?

Simple. This is the first step that you must take in order to fully accept yourself.

 

The Failures

The “failures” play an interesting role. The first thing I would do is to assign a different word to the things that go wrong. Most of the time they just impede your progress. They give you an opportunity to figure out what isn’t working. Things that you perhaps didn’t really want to do. They are more like harbingers of opportunity (yes I know, that was very optimistic even for me, but just hear me out).

Real World Example: I was a straight “A” student who ended up going to college to become something that would allow me to make money. The goal was to make enough to live a comfortable life and then figure out what to do. However, when I got to college, I starting doing poorly. Eventually, I gave up trying. It was hard. My family didn’t understand or approve. This was my moment of choice – stay with the career path I had decided on or discover what it is I want.

That’s all life is in the end – just soaking up lessons so that you can live the life you want. Sure, the example I gave may sound trivial, but it shook me to my foundation. In the end, that’s what these turning points do. Please, take a step back and truly analyze the thing that has been haunting you. Is there a lesson buried in there? What is it? What changes can you make?

 

The Casual Mistakes

Have you ever gone through a day and realized that you said something that you weren’t supposed to? Gotten someone’s name wrong? Tripped or spilled something on yourself? These are pretty universal experiences, I assure you. However, when you are plagued by depression, they eat away at you more than they ought to. They are on replay in your mind.

Take a moment after these blunders occur and take a deep breath. It happens to everyone. We are all human and being human is a messy process. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. In your mind, take that moment and imagine that the moment is tangible. Crumple it up and toss it away.

Learning to laugh at these small mistakes helps. Truly, it does. Don’t laugh at your “stupidity”, laugh at the action itself. Think about it this way: if a friend was to do the same thing, you would probably make a joke (if not, then you are a much kinder friend than I am and kudos to you). Also, anyone in the vicinity can no longer make fun of you because you are making jokes about it yourself. You strip the onlookers of their powers to bring you down. This situation is now under your control.

 

So, How Do You Forgive Yourself?

Write it out on paper or talk about it (especially if they are larger concerns). Tell yourself that it could happen to anyone. Tell yourself the truth – you reacted that particular way because of your circumstances and the limited knowledge that you possessed at that time. You only know better now because you have more information. Don’t worry about looking crazy. This is for you and you alone.

If it helps, talk to someone, especially if you feel as if you victimized them somehow. You may be surprised to learn that it didn’t really affect them that much. We are all social creatures. Conversations keep us all together. They have the power to heal relationships. If you don’t believe me, give it a shot. Sure, at first there may be raised voices and hurtful things that are said. However, that’s just a temporary reaction that our biases bring out. After they pass, things become better. Just stick with it if you value the relationship.

Work towards your better future. This is the best way to allow solutions to present themselves.

And most importantly, grab onto that slim sliver of hope and never let it go.

 

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Life on the Sidelines

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Most of us are familiar with the feeling – feeling left out of a group, always observing things from what feels like a distance. Being shut out. So, what do you do? You probably try to ignore the glares, suppress the old wounds, and keep your head down.

This is harder to combat than others. Especially those of us who are of ethnic backgrounds and different sexual orientations. Basically, anyone who is not amongst the “status quo”, you have probably experienced this.

The Depression Factor

Depression skews our world-view (yes, I have stated this numerous times before too). It gets to the point that we perceive ourselves to be shut out even if we are ignored unintentionally. By keeping silent for the remainder of the interaction, we shut ourselves out. The other person cannot possibly understand what we are thinking. They don’t know why we’re quiet or why we have decide to walk away. This is not to say that people never intentionally ignore people. That happens too.

We have a decision to make in moments such as these. We can succumb to our own insecurity, allow our depression to take hold, and retreat. Or, we can take a moment to gather our wits, and see if the situation can be resuscitated.

Speaking from experience, the latter is much, much better. Yes, it takes courage and it takes all your will-power. However, your efforts will be rewarded. Maybe not in the way that you intend, but nonetheless, you can gain peace of mind. At least you won’t subject yourself to future regret.

 

The Loneliness Factor

Yes, being on the outside sucks. You are in a group of people and you feel alone. Maybe, you walked into this feeling alone to begin with. Maybe you walked into this knowing that you don’t know anyone. Seeing a sea of unknown faces is daunting to anyone.

I am not trying to undermine anyone here. I know we are all capable adults and we all know how to talk to people should push come to shove. However, we forget that these people may also be nervous or anxious. Just because someone emits a confident exterior, does not mean that they are natural social people.

Take a moment to speak to someone. Start with a greeting or small talk. Yes, yes, you know how to do this. So, why am I saying it? Because you need to actually try it! What’s the worst that can happen? They walk away? I’m sure you can handle one person walking away. They were probably a jerk anyways. Nice people don’t do things like that.

 

The Lasting Effect

Usually, we are not aware of this, but when we leave a social situation, feeling invisible, we may find that we have buried some of the residual feeling. If left unattended, these emotions build up. They grow and grow and grow. After a while, it takes longer to recuperate because partially we want people to look at us and think that we are strong, partially because we don’t know how to deal with it.

So how do you deal with it?

The answer is so simple that it sounds stupid. Talk. Start a light conversation, casually mentioning that you felt left out. Frame it in a way that it doesn’t sound accusatory. In confrontational settings, most people will defend themselves to no end and they may even show aggression. To avoid this, try to practice what you are going to say. Make sure you use words that are ensure that you are not blaming the other person.

You may just find out that the other person had no idea. They may apologize or they may not. Either way, it’s out in the open and now you know that their intentions were not malicious. And isn’t that worth it?

 

Happy conversations, everyone! I’ve got your back!

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