“Well, just try to be positive.” To anybody who has ever dealt with depression, you know how awful this advice can sometimes make you feel. How can I force my mind to be positive when it’s my brain that isn’t functioning properly? When the chemicals in my brain are so sluggish that I am not capable of producing positive feelings, literally. When the actual problem with depression is your actual perception of the world. There’s a dark cloud that hangs over you and there is no light. By very definition chemical depression is marked with feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and apathy. Sometimes I feel like despite all the self-will and motivation I have, it seems impossible to conjure up positive feelings because my brain just feels broken!
The phrase ‘be positive’makes me feel like I’m just covering up what’s really going on. Instead of facing an issue I tell myself to just be positive and somehow by doing so the problem will just go away. It’s a close friend asking me how I’m doing and me saying “great” and ending the conversation right there.
I like the word optimism better. I guess you could say that the two words are synonymous. HOWEVER, a friend gave me this list and since then I’ve decided I like OPTIMISM DEFINED.
12 CHARACTERISTICS OF TOUGH-MINDED OPTIMISTS:
1. Optimists are seldom surprised by trouble: They know it’s part of exisiting
2. Optimists look for partial solutions: One step or task at a time
3. Optimists believe they have control over their future: They set goals within their limits
4. Optimists allow for regular renewal: exercise, laughter, sleep
5. Optimists interrupt their negative trains of thought: they change the channel in their brain
6. Optimists heighten their power of appreciation: list it daily, in your head or on paper
7. Optimists use their imaginations to rehearse success: imagine the best outcome
8. Optimists are cheerful even when they can’t be happy.
9. Optimists believe they have an almost unlimited capacity for stretching and growing.
10. Optimists build lots of love into their lives: reach out to others.
11. Optimists like the swap good news.
12. Optimists accept what cannot be changed: other people or the past. They know that the only thing they can change is themselves.
I LOVE THIS!
It’s not vague, it’s not covering up the problem. It’s helped me in restructuring my thought process by giving me specifics. I like the title, ‘TOUGH-MINDED’ optimists. I may not have control of how I feel when I hit a low, but I am tough. I know that no matter how cloudy my perspective gets, no matter how dark the depression may be I can utilize optimism defined to get me through it. Not being surprised by trouble: accepting the ups and downs of depression and not freaking out or complaining when I hit a low. Expanding my power of appreciation: I’ve written down lists, dedicated a prayer to appreciation. Even though a lot of the time when I’m super depressed I don’t FEEL grateful or even FEEL much of anything about anything I can KNOW that I can stil be optimistic. I can. I’ve tried it and I can and so can you! I still continue to fight through the ups and downs of depression but trying to develop the characteristics/coping skills of a tough-minded optimist is really helping me.
I hope this can help you like it has helped me.
Another thing that really helps me on a daily basis is this…
Today he was “helping” me plant my flowers. He came up to me and said “Look Mom, I’m a pot-head”. Awesome. Definitely made me feel optimistic.