Anxiety, depression and the ‘hurts of life’

‘Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future’ Robert H Schuller

The hurts that you have endured have brought you to the present moment and perhaps it is a present moment that you do not like very much. These ‘hurts’, of themselves aren’t always harmful, but if we endure enough ‘hurts’ in our lives it can cause anxiety and depression. These are the labels commonly used to describe mental states associated with despair, fear, hopelessness, anger, panic and out of control feelings. And then when you add on top of that the thoughts that ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this’ and ‘get a grip’ you are in a warzone with yourself, creating more tension and more stress about the fact that you are actually feeling what you are feeling, in a situation that you do not wish to be in.

Typically people deal with intense situations in 3 ways, flight, fight, or freeze. Flight might mean walking away from something or someone or in extreme cases fleeing the country. You could freeze, sometimes to the point that your whole life stops and you are figuratively or physically in your bed with the duvet over your head immobilized and unable to connect with the world.   You could become very angry at everything and everyone, causing physical and mental damage towards people and things. Sound familiar? We will all, at some point in our life, feel and act in one or more of these ways which is a normal reaction to being human.

So what to do when life throws you a curve ball?

Step One

BE honest about where you are. If you’re having trouble managing your life, then the quickest way to relieve some of the pressure is to admit to yourself how you really feel. Eg If you hate your job and you keep saying ‘I love it’, you’re clearly lying to yourself and causing added pressure and tension on top of the situation you’re already in.

Step Two

BE kind to yourself. It is so easy to beat ourselves up and give ourselves a hard time. But it is true that when a curve ball happens, we need to take stock and realise that right now we might need to re-group, calm down and then re-evaluate from a more relaxed place.

Step Three

BE mindful. Rome wasn’t built in a day and life is a journey not a destination. The present moment can be a safe harbour where you concentrate on the here and now rather than worrying about what might happen, what could happen, or what might never happen.

Step Four

BE realistic. Sometimes the curve balls in your life can be incredibly hard to manage. Sometimes you can manage them by yourself and sometimes you can’t.   Seeking help is never a weakness, but a point of empowerment when you take back some control. And a non-judgemental third party like a counsellor can give you the space to find perspective.  Making sense of the anxious, depressed you or the ‘hurts’ that may affected you. And from a physical view, as you begin to find a new perspective, you are literally re-wiring the pathways of your brain.  And as you begin to heal from the negativity of the past, you open up space to dwell on the positive moments that have happened in your life. A natural by product of this new way of thinking, allows hopes and dreams to take root and come alive. These more positive thoughts will help you to move forward in your life, knowing that your future can be brighter than it was before.