Act of Will CAN Beat Depression Every Time
Thousands of people already get out of depression as an act of will. From childhood, they have learned to immediately turn away from downer thoughts that will sooner of later turn into depression. Or, even if hit by a full-blown depressive episode, they turn away from thoughts about their pain to any other kinds of thoughts that distract them from depression. Others have devised mind exercises that they have “at the ready” to use when depression hits.
So then, why don’t we all get out of depression as an act of will? Sometimes the reason is as simple as the language we use to describe what we see as the reality of our lives.The very language we use can subtly distort reality. If we would be more accurate in describing things, we would be able to make better decisions about them. If we called it sugar water with poison gas and caffeine in it instead of a soft drink, maybe we wouldn’t drink so much of it. If we called it gambling, instead of gaming, maybe we’d think less of it.
“Men have an all but incurable propensity to prejudge all the great questions which interest them,” said 19th Century English jurist Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, “by stamping their prejudices upon their language.” Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz said, “We use words to label and help us comprehend the world around us. At the same time, many of the words we use are like distorting lenses: they make us misperceive and hence misjudge the object we look at.”
Advertising agencies use language to con us into doing what they want, whether it is in our best interests or not. Used cars are called previously-owned cars. The emotional feelings engendered by certain words can subvert our rational processes. Nobody wants a USED CAR while everybody wants to OWN A CAR. You can see the different feelings inspired by the two different phrases.
You see ads for a WHOLE half of a chicken. You get the emotional high from the word WHOLE so you kind of ignore the fact that you’re only getting a half. A sales manager once told me he never asks a customer to “sign something” because, “Everybody’s mother has warned them never to sign anything, and they will immediately get skittish and resistant.” Instead, he presents a contract and asks the prospective buyer to “please authorize this.” Everybody wants to have authority. Authority is a good thing.
In the same vein, if we call depression a disease, we can be convinced that all we need to do is to take medicine for it. We will feel no need take any other personal action on our own behalf. So we won’t be able to help ourselves when depression hits as long as we allow ourselves to speak this language of convenience. I say language of convenience, because truth can be extremely inconvenient. Truth generally requires that we ourselves have to get busy and do something difficult.
Psychiatrists have been telling us that we can’t help ourselves because depression deprives us of our will. This is not true. Depression does not deprive us of will or option. It merely deprives us of motivation due to the heavy toll the stress chemicals wreak upon our metabolic system. If depression deprived us of will, we would not be able to do so much as to lift up our own arm. Will is not quantitative. It is qualitative. Motivation is quantitative. It is the feeling of wanting to do something, in degrees of more or less.
Depression per se does not really limit our behavior. There’s nothing you can’t do while being depressed. You still have the will to do whatever you want, even if you don’t feel like it. You do other things as a matter of will that you don’t feel like–writing a report, getting dinner, doing the laundry. You just haven’t applied this same principle to depression. Mainly because some people in the psychological community have you convinced that you can’t.
Once we believe something, it is human nature to discount contradictory information as incorrect or irrelevant. Therefore it’s hard to get out of depression, as an act of will, when people we respect tell us that we can’t. But you can opt out of depression any time you want.
Getting out of depression is harder than getting dinner or doing laundry, admittedly, but the fact remains that it is just as doable. Especially if you are alerted to the difference between will and motivation. Even in the depths of depression, a person still has the capability to change their behavior at any moment. It is a simple enough thing to stop crying and do some little exercise or mind trick. It is a simple thing to take your attention off bad feelings and concentrate your attention, instead, on the weave of the material on your sofa. It isn’t easy, because you lack motivation. But you can do it when you remember that you still have will, free will.
It’s tough to take action when How Does Grief Counselling Work first hits because you have almost zero motivation. But if you remember you still have will, still have capability, you will not be fooled by the strategy of your depression to render you helpless by depriving you of motivation.
Remind yourself that you have will often enough when you aren’t depressed and can concentrate on it fully. Then you can start to build a neuronal thought pattern that will show up on its own, triggered by learned association, because you have linked it with your depression. When depression hits you will feel the same pain but a new thought will occur to you, “I still have will, and I can do an exercise and get out of this.” This is just one example of how you can physically change your brain by changing your thinking and behavior.
Anticipate the tricks of depression. We need to anticipate our belief that nothing can be done when depression hits. Then we won’t be so easily seduced by it. Deep into depression it is impossible to believe that you can do anything to fix it. That is the very core strategy of depression, complete belief in your own infinite helplessness. It’s hard to tell whether helplessness causes the low motivation or vice versa. Nature’s way of protecting our earlier forms has backfired on modern Homo sapiens.
We have this brain with its elaborate human psychological defense mechanism, and all its biochemical bells and whistles. But it has evolved from that ancient stop-do-not-go-forward-danger-ahead program and the stop is still there, preserved in depression. We immediately withdraw and surrender. Knowing our first instinct is to stop, to quit and go belly up, can help us override the primal directive.
The trick is to decide, in advance, that you will automatically substitute your new exercise for the missing motivation whether you feel like doing it or not. We should not live our lives by feelings anymore than we should drive a car without a steering wheel. Feelings power us but they have no sense of direction.
This is why doing trumps believing. Depression is the belief that nothing will work so why do anything. Therefore, just 60 seconds of thought-jamming it with a simple mind exercise will start to lessen its strength. There are dozens of brainswitching exercises to choose from.When we decide to slip another routine in on our regular depressive routine, it begins to lose its power. Depression is a mindset, a mind channel. You don’t need to cure your mind; you need to change the channel.
The only thing you need to cure is your habitual reaction to depression. There is no reason to cure depression at all because you can simply walk away from it, via Brainswitching mind tricks, to a different place in your brain. Lacking the proper thinking fuel for its survival, depression will then subside into its cyclical downtime. Remember that depression only exists in the subcortex, the feeling part of the brain. There is never any depression in the neocortex, the thinking part of the brain.
You will get immediately relief from any mind exercise. Even using the nursery rhyme “row, row, row your boat” will be sufficient. Say it over and over repetitively. This will block the message in the neocortex that depression is being produced in the subcortex and the chemical balance in the brain will have a change to equalize. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, doing the exercises over and over will physically change your brain, neuron by neuron. There in your brain, right next to your neural path INTO depression, will be your neural path OUT of depression!