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.
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.
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.