Like so many others, I have experienced depression. At times, my depression greatly interfered with my work, home, and social lives. And although I’ve always done a lot of writing it wasn’t a particularly therapeutic exercise.
How could it be? My writing, like my approach to life, was often about how unfair life was… to other people. Yes, I wrote as though I was okay but was really concerned for those “others”. I did not want to appear to be the whiner I actually was inside my head.
I later learned that this kind of behavior only serves to reinforce depression because, no matter how I presented myself to the world, my very negative and very incongruent thoughts and feelings unsettled me to the point that depressing was my only option. Or so I believed at that time.
As time went on, I became interested in how the rest of the world managed those things that caused me so much grief. It was through closely observing others that the light of understanding began to burn and eventually ignited my “ah, hah” moment, and it was then that I began to write about finding solutions to my problems.
To make a long story short, what I found out was that, although there was a tendency for me to go to the negative, I did actually have a choice in whether I felt crappy or happy. But, because I had more experience with going for crappy it was easier for me to go there; happy was definitely achievable but initially required a conscious effort. However, like anything else we accomplish, repetition made going for happy easier and, eventually, became my default – or preselected – emotion.
And, because negativity is alive and well, I tend to view it with a critical eye and treat it as a crappy first draft that, for myself, I can revise so as to prevent myself from going there.
An example would be, whenever I hear people commenting on news reports about tragic happenings, such as the school shootings, and offering up their description of events, I tend to forestall my opinion simply because I wasn’t there and therefore, do not KNOW. Opinions are not knowledge.
To repeat: I shy away from expressing opinions about things I do not have DIRECT knowledge of. I do that because I have come to understand that every person on earth has opinions about things they know nothing about but will, from time-to-time, present those opinions as fact.
Bullshit (commonly known as BS) is not, and never will be, fact… even though people at all levels of society will offer their BS as just that. We see that “BS-as-fact” is at work every day in our legal system, our media, and with our families and friends. In fact, gossip is usually BS offered as fact.
Once I self-evaluated (a process that some people refer to as an inventory) and came to understand how much BS I spewed about I questioned myself – in writing – as to the why of it and determined that BSing was my way of appearing to be far more knowledgeable than I actually was. Instead of saying, “I don’t know, but I’d like to,” I would BS. And live in ignorance.
To clarify: being ignorant is not the same as being stupid. Ignorance is defined as a lack of knowledge or information. Everybody is ignorant about some things; you cannot know what you do not know.
Today, I have no problem in admitting when I don’t know. And, if I’m interested in the topic or issue at hand, then I will seek out the relevant information. Some things I’m content to remain ignorant about, such as becoming a terrorist, a mass murderer, an abuser of kids or pets or… you get the idea.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing out my “What-do-I-wants?” in terms of ‘to be’, or ‘to do’, or ‘to become’ and I’ve found out a lot about myself… but only after I’ve determined how I might go about achieving a particular want.
Of course, putting a plan into action is the real test of how important any “want” is. Sometimes those wants remain just words in my mind or computer.
But, it all begins with a thought, such as “I wonder what it would be like if I could….” or “I want to do…” It starts to get serious when I write it out, and even more serious when I develop a plan of execution. It becomes real when I put the plan into motion.
Oh, yeah: I generally think in terms of what I want as opposed to thinking about what I don’t want. What I do want is usually positive while what I don’t want is usually negative. I’ve experienced both and I find that I prefer the positive.
[Edit: October 31st, 2014.
We received an email response to this post from an old friend. Read what he had to say here.]