Depression is an awful thing. It eats at your will to live. It eats at your ability to enjoy anything. It leaves you hollow and empty and feeling like you’re worthless. The trouble is, some of the most effective ways to treat depression require you to really look after yourself. Which, is quite an effort when you don’t feel worthy of looking after. It’s really a catch 22. If you don’t look after yourself, you won’t get better. But finding the will to look after something you feel like is a waste of space and time and energy is almost impossible. So here’s the trick: Treat yourself as if.
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Treat yourself as if you are worth looking after. You don’t need to believe it, you don’t need to feel it, and you don’t need to ‘fake it’. What you do, is you look after yourself as if you were something worth treasuring, something worth investing in, something worth really developing and helping. Ultimately you are. But you don’t need to believe that. You don’t need proof of it. You just need to do it. Treat yourself as if you were worthy of really looking after.
What happens from this, is that firstly, the cycle of perpetual gloom is broken. That cycle looks like this:
You feel like you’re crap.
You treat yourself like crap.
You feel more like crap.
Everything you touch turns to crap.
Then you have EVIDENCE that you’re crap and
You feel more like crap and THEN
You treat yourself even more crap and it goes on and on.
Break that cycle the one place you have some serious control. Your actions.
Because your thoughts might be out of your control at the moment… In the thick of depression often your thoughts are really influenced by your brain chemicals, but you still have control over your actions.
Break the cycle. Treat yourself well. If you’re not already IN therapy, invest in it. Make that investment into your mental health and getting better. It’s a long term investment and if it was someone really worth looking after you’d do it - so do it.
Then, start feeding yourself well. Stop filling your body full of crap and start looking after your body like it was something worth treasuring. No more over processed crap. No more soft drink and alcohol and stuff that you know is bad for your body. Start giving your body the premium fuel that it needs and you’ll get better results fast. It will impact your brain chemistry and start to help you feel better quickly.
Exercise. If you’re not doing any exercise right now, start slowly. Don’t go like a bull at a gate or you’ll injure yourself or overdo it and lose motivation. Just start with a ten minute walk. Get your body moving regularly and your body AND your brain will thank you for it.
When you’ve done this for a bit, and you’re starting to notice some positive changes, then is a good time to add some affirmations. Start noticing the good things about you - and the things you like about yourself and begin to speak to yourself about them. If you’ve been suffering with depression it’s likely that you’ll have this inner voice that has been beating the living shit out of you for a while now. I call it the bad wolf and if you’ve heard the tale about the two wolves you’ll know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t it’s simple: We all have two wolves. One of them’s sole purpose is to destroy - your self esteem, your goodness, your potential. Every time it speaks to you with fear, greed, hate, jealousy, it grows. Every time you act out of those spaces, it grows… It’s time to develop your best weapon against that evil bastard. It’s worst enemy: The good wolf. If you’re in the thick of it, your good wolf has taken a hit. It’s been weakened and needs to be fed and nurtured. In order for it to battle well against the bad wolf you will need to retrain it, strengthen it, feed it, and give it some weapons. Positive self talk is its strongest weapon and if you’re not feeling the positivity it’s quite understandably hard to come up with the words on the spot. So write them down. Google the shit out of affirmations and find the ones that you feel will empower you and your good wolf and read them out loud.
“I am a decent human being”
“I am worthy of looking after”
“I am powerful beyond measure”... what ever resonates with the you that you WANT to be - not who you think you are at this very point in time.
You don’t have to believe them yet. Just read them. Train that good voice to be louder and stronger and it will eventually have the strength to drown out the bad wolf. The more you feed the good wolf, the stronger it will be and the weaker that bad wolf will get. I guess they call depression the black dog for more than one reason.
It is important that you do these things on a regular basis, so developing some strategies around maintaining that certain level of self care and then building on it is important. I talk about that in episode 39 so go back and have a look at that if you need to. One thing that I do is I have daily checklist that I go through every single morning to make sure that I’m doing the things that I need to do in order to get on top of things and stay on top. It’s so important because if depression has been part of your life, it is so easy to fall back into it before you even realise you’re on the way down. Maintaining your mental, physical and spiritual health has to be your number one priority. Especially when life happens. When the big stuff happens. When you get busy and you feel like more important things are taking over your life. You need to have a system in place that supports you and holds you there but I do go on about that back in episode 39 - what holds you together, so have a look there.
Once you have these basics down, you can add into them. Adding things like investing in your education, your personal growth… continually reading or listening to podcasts that encourage you to learn and grow will help stop you from stagnating and letting that rot sink back in. Consistently moving forward stops you from getting stuck in a rut.
Also, having things to really look forward to as well. So set some goals that you can work towards. They don’t have to be financial goals, or career goals - even things like a holiday, or being able to run a marathon - things that you need to work towards, but that will have their own reward once you achieve them will be really helpful. Be specific and have it broken down into achievable doable steps. I’m going to talk a bit about goal setting next week so if you get stuck here hang in til next Tuesday.
The next thing: Make space in your schedule and your life to do things that you love to do and do them on a regular basis. Often when depression kicks in you forget about the things you love and even when you have the time, you don’t have the inclination to do anything. So actually locking things into your diary with a friend becomes an important way to ensure you actually allow yourself (and sometimes force yourself) out into the world to have a bit of fun.
These are all important things, and you’ll find that most of them are things that people who are well, tend to do naturally. The problem that occurs when you have depression is these things don’t come naturally anymore. But that’s when they’re even more important. You deserve good things not because you have done something to deserve good things, but simply because the good things in your life, will call out a better YOU. When a better you comes forth, you are bringing a better human out into the world and you’re making the world a better place. So if you have trouble doing things just for you - remember that by doing things for you, nurturing you, will create a better you and a better you will create a better world.
For me it’s very similar to a plant. You prepare the soil, you plant the seed. You don’t get angry at that tiny little plant when it sprouts just because it’s not a giant tree straight away! You nurture it. You feed it, you water it, you fertilise it and you make sure it gets sunlight. When it does, it grows. Just like you. You will grow if you make sure you have the things you need and if you keep doing it, then eventually you won’t be this fragile little plant that is so easily trampled on. You will be strong. You will be great and all the hard work will be worth it.
You have no chance of becoming that great tree that you compare yourself too if you don’t nurture yourself through all the other stages of growth first.
If you are thinking that having a system in place to help you go through some of these tools in a way that you can build upon, our new course ‘un-funk’ yourself might be for you. We have extended the early bird price until the end of July so if it interests you go and check out transformationalpersonalgrowth.com/course.
This weeks episode is all about treating yourself as if. Treat yourself as if you’re worth investing in… whether that is the course, or a counselor, or a personal development program - invest in yourself. I had to learn to do that too because I was so focussed on just surviving. To get past that place you really need to learn to do things differently. So invest in yourself and educate yourself.
If you’ve found this weeks episode valueable I would really appreciate it if you could share it with your social networks, your friends, family etc… ALL our free content we are happy for you to share with as many people as you like because it’s all about helping people to help themselves. On our instagram page and facebook we have a lot of downloadable quotes and pics so feel free to download them and print them and do what I do and stick them up all around the place to remind myself of the things I really need reminding of.
I hope you have a great week and I will see you next episode!!! This blog is available as a podcast on iTunes - click HERE.