Do you feel depressed? You’ve no doubt tried many things, but if you’re still looking for answers, they must not have brought permanent relief. If you see depression as something that just happens to you out of the blue, or caused by something over which you have no control, then your sense of powerlessness escalates and your depression deepens. But what if there is a solution available to you that you have not yet tried?
From our earliest years, we have been conditioned in many ways, by society and our families,to believe that distressing feelings – anger, despair, grief, sadness, general upset – are not okay,and in some cases, that we are defective, flawed, or just generally wrong for feeling and/or expressing them. We may have felt punished, abandoned, unsupported, or humiliated in our early years for trying.
What do we do now? These unexpressed, and thus unhealed feelings – the underlying cause of depression, don’t go away through will power, wishful thinking, or attempts to rearrange the circumstances of our lives. Many of us have employed the almost universal strategy – to do everything in our power to shove them under the rug; unfortunately in the darkness they grow and fester. We expend tremendous energy, physically and psychologically, to avoid those feelings that are so urgently trying to be felt, and thus healed. By pushing them away, we block the single guaranteed pathway that allows the feelings to be released, the depression to lift, and our peace and contentment to return. No wonder we feel so drained!
So now is the time to try something different. We have a three-step process that guarantees success…if you are willing? This is just a starting point. We go into much greater detail in our DVD “See How Acceptance Works,” but here are the basics.
1.OWN IT – Your feelings are your responsibility.
The brain is a computer. Our beliefs/thoughts/convictions are “programs” in that computer that instruct the brain to deliver chemicals that change our body chemistry, resulting in our experiencing an emotion, out of which our feelings emerge. The feeling is the tail-end of a process that starts with a belief.
Feelings are an internal job so clearly no one else has the ability to create them for you. We are conditioned to believe other people, situations, or events “make” us feel the way we do, but actually our interpretations (thoughts/beliefs) about them are the culprits.
2. FEEL IT – We must process the feeling.
The immediate need is to deal directly with these feelings and the longer-term process is to substantively change what we believe and how we think.
Take a deep breathe because now I am asking you to do what might seem very difficult or scary – fully experience how you feel, instead of blocking it or distracting yourself from it. I certainly understand the fear that the feelings will be overpowering, but note that they are already overpowering you. So what you fear will happen has already happened, which means you can go nowhere but up.
Our feelings mean nothing at all about our basic nature, but are simply a reflection of what we believe about ourselves. What is true about us and what we believe about ourselves is almost always miles apart.
Give all your undivided attention to those feelings, be willing to be uncomfortable and be very kind to yourself as you do. If you sincerely attempt this process, you will find that placing kind welcoming attention on your feelings will allow them to start to shift. Start small. (Note – while attending to your feelings, do NOT think, blame, try to figure out, or fix!)
For anger: Do large motor activity to clear out the “fight or flight” hormones. Often underneath anger is sadness, and if so, then let the tears come.
For fear: Breathe deeply. As you take each deep breath, say to yourself, “I’m safe. I can handle this. I am protected.” And keep breathing. Often underneath fear is sadness, and if so, let the tears come.
For sadness: Get into a comfortable safe place and say to yourself, “Welcome, my sadness. I will love you and keep you safe.” and then CRY. Let yourself weep. The despair often resides under the angry feelings.
Step 3: LOVE IT – Your journey is perfect for you.
Be truthful with yourself and be kind enough to let the healing process begin. This process is as reliable as the digestion process. Once you take a bite of food, your part is finished. The body then takes over and knows perfectly well how to move food through the gastrointestinal tract if we leave things alone. In the same way, if we will finally be willing to feel how we feel, another automatic process takes over and knows how to transform one kind of feeling state into another.
If you put an ice cube in a pan and place on a hot stove, the molecules move faster as a result of the heat and the solid ice cube turns to liquid water. If you continue long enough, the liquid water turns into steam and vanishes. In exactly the same way, if you finally allow yourself to accept those feelings and not fight so hard against them, they will begin to shift and you will feel better. Just as the heat causes the molecules to speed up and change form from solid to liquid, so too will the unconditional embracing of our feelings cause a quickening in our own energy fields, resulting in an expanding, a lightening up, and a more comfortable emotional state.
We realize this acceptance seems counterintuitive compared to our unfortunate “conventional wisdom” on this topic but if you try it, you will find that joining with the feelings rather than trying to separate from them brings positive results. Nothing to lose by trying it out.
In our next post we will look at the origin of our unhelpful beliefs that are ultimately causing all the trouble in the first place.
In the meantime check out our DVD series and you will find much more about how we get into our unhappy situations in the first place and how to get out, step by step.
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