Maybe there’ll be an exception some day, but so far everyone I’ve worked with who “suffered from depression” ended up just fine once I explained to them how their consciousness worked.
All genuinely thought they were afflicted with some disease and so subconsciously they weren’t even really looking for a way to have significant influence over their daily experience they just wanted help enduring it. That’s how they’d previously seen treatment.
I often get very rewarding credit for changing people, but my students would tell you all I do is point out people’s own power. The reason we get confused is that when we’re young no one teaches us to use our consciousness. Other than being named it’s barely mentioned during life unless you take it up as a specialty in university —or unless you’re like me and get your brain smashed in.
Despite people’s general ignorance about it, our consciousness is where we spend all of our time. So I don’t change people, I just inform and then coach their consciousness. If they try what I suggest, it will be the experiences they have that change them.
We all have terrible experiences in our life and some are worse than others. But in every kind of life there’s someone who’s turned out happy and successful. The difference between that and being depressed is very subtle.
Depressed people are often isolated because they’re depressing to be around. Their friends love them, but because they love them so they don’t want to see them in agony. They stay away.
And why are we depressed? Until we’ve suffered enough that we’re ready to change we’ll always argue with anyone trying to help us feel better. But in virtually every case, the reason’s generally very simple; without being aware of it depressed people will spend their days thinking sad and painful victim-centered thoughts.
(You can be assured that over the years I’ve heard every reason you can imagine about why I’m wrong about that, but my students keep getting better.)
Imagine there a big bookcase with a person’s entire history in it. Depressed people keep returning to the same sad shelves over and over, re-reading the same sad books over and over and over, hoping that some day the outcome of the story will change.
We’ve all done it. Depressed people are just really good at it and they don’t get sick of it and naturally pull out. That’s because they often grew up around someone just like them, so being sad most of the time is considered normal. Because of that, they don’t sense the same impetus to shift to something more enjoyable. They don’t think that belongs to them.
In the end, our existence is constituted by whatever our consciousness is focused on. So our consciousness doesn’t really differentiate between our life and some life we’re experiencing through something like a book, or even through our own memories or daydreams.
The sadness or happiness will come from our experience of thinking about the events and it won’t matter whether or not they are real or fictional; the chemistry in our brain will be the same.
If we found something sad when it happened, then unless we change our thoughts about the event, re-living it will be sad again. It’s no different than burning our hand. If we sticking it back in the fire it’ll burn again.
The real trouble with re-reading those dark chapters is that it trains us to think in those terms: sad ones. And so we start to see everything from that perspective and we become a victim by assuming we have no power.
We tell people they don’t understand as though we are the only person out of billions that’s been devastatingly sad, or who’s had to deal with challenging circumstances.
This isn’t to make light of it. Quite the opposite. This is me saying: yes life has some really awful parts to it. But since those are inevitable why spend any time worrying when we can’t avoid them? We just have to let them happen and then stop thinking about them.
I can’t spend my time re-reading chapters of betrayal or abuse or cruelty and then expect to enjoy my day. If we keep re-reading / re-living the sad or angry parts of life we’ll end up making the kinds of decisions a sad or angry person would make. And those are rarely wise.
So we can fantasize about how it would have been if we stayed together —or if we got back together. We can fantasize about what we’d say to put someone in their place. We can fantasize about how they would apologize to us.
Or, we can just not think about them at all, thereby freeing yourself up to have new happy experiences rather than perpetually using your present to re-live the tragic events of your past.
It’s a healthy thing to stop saying we’re depressed when what’s really happening is that we’re spending way too much of our time sitting around thinking sad thoughts. The reason we’re talking to ourselves is because we’re social animals and we’ve cut ourselves off too much.
Spend time with people. Even strangers. Get connected. It’s our nature. Denying it will hurt.
Forget the pages of your past. Focus on writing your future. Your life was not designed as a book to be read, it is only a book to be written.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.