What to do when everything leads to a no?

You’ve been there before; the place where you feel that everything is a big N-O for a massive NO.  It’s that point where you feel that nothing else can go wrong.  You feel that you have tried everything, yet nobody cares and nothing works.  Nobody cares that you are trying to change your negative thought process, you’ve tried every piece of positive mind trick on the book.  You have tried to see yourself “in a different light,” and have gone as far as changing the way that you deal with people or do business.  You keep trying to get out of the hole of depression that continues to keep you captive.  Somehow, you keep hoping that things will get better.  Yet you are afraid of smiling and abandoning yourself to a happy moment because you just don’t know when things may get bad again.  Gotta keep your guard up.  Gotta be prepared for the next blow.

And I can tell you how it begins.  I can tell you exactly how you start shifting from the good, to the bad…and finally, the ugly.  You’ve been away from that place for a long time, yet it keeps calling you back.  You don’t want to go back to that crap hole, but it sinks you like still waters.  It’s a slow process that consumes you rapidly.  The fall is slow and painful; the impact ridiculously painful.  You start to wonder why is it that you are not used to this shit.  Yes, I know how you continue to return to that drowning godforsaken place because I’ve been there so many times.  In fact, I visit this personal Hades quite often.  I’ll tell you how.

One day you feel like you’ve reached a good point in your life.  You feel good.  You can get up in the morning without that nasty headache or the thoughts of dread.  You’ve listened to so much Tony Robbins style stuff that you feel like you can take the world down right now if you had to.  You feel smart, empowered, like nothing can stop you from reaching the place that you’ve seen in that big dream of yours.  Oh yeah, you got a dream and NOBODY is going to stop you from getting there.  You start building on good things until one day ‘reality’ hits you right smack in the face.  SUCKS!

Let me give you a metaphor to explain this process.  Picture a balloon full of water.  The balloon is the positive force that surrounds and contains the negativity:  this would be all the positive Tony Robbins stuff we just talked about.  The water inside the balloon represents all the negativity that you are working to get rid of.  You want it gone NOW, so what do you do?  You contain it with this balloon of good things.  The problem is that life keeps throwing these balloons full of negative water at you.  You manage to move out of the way and keep pressing on with your life.  Then one day, just when you’ve reached all the goodness that the planet can offer you…the balloon hits you precisely on your face.  You get so distracted that the balloon reaches your face, explodes at speed (so it hurts pretty bad), and all the nastiness of that negative water marinades your entire face, your hair.  Your eyes burn from it, gets in your nose so you feel like you are literally drowning.  It gets messier than that.  Your clothes have also received a splash of that water.  Just when you thought that this was bad enough, that flippin’ water drips down your shirt, your pants, your shoes…ALL OF YOU!  It is a wicked mess, and you want life to give up on you.  You want life to make that choice because you are too freakin’ tired to deal with it.

What to do?

Full disclaimer:  I’m speaking form a very broken heart.  This is written truly in the first person.  I have lost so much in my spiritual and emotional life that I just don’t know how I’m getting the energy to write this.  However, I will tell you that I get put back together as much as I break down.

But I am going to get up right now.  SCREW the screw-up.  I’ve burned so many bridges that I may have to drown at one point.  But I am going to do it fighting.  Perhaps this is why I will drown, they say that you shouldn’t fight when you are sinking.  I say different.  Give this life a fight.  Use this bullshit to give you courage.  Thrive and take this life by the wicked nuts.  Use this negativity to get up and ROAR.  I sound like a crazy person, but trust me, I am not.  I am angry at the way things have turned out.  I am tired, but I am not broken.  I am broken, but I am not useless.  I am useless, but I am alive.

I am alive.  I am alive.  I am alive…Fight with me.

To answer the title question:  “What to do when everything leads to a no?”

You say yes.  Screw no.  It doesn’t count.  What do you say?  Say yes……………..and fight right back.

whatifyoufly

 

Introverts

Listen to Susan Cain’s powerful talk on the power of introversion (not to be confused with being shy).

If you are one of us, welcome to the club!  Be proud; you make a difference.  Extroverts, I just ask that you don’t feel left behind.  You are loved, and yes…we need you as much as you need us.  Enjoy her wonderful presentation.

Life: Not so bad

I often describe my bouts of depression as the waves of the sea; and I sense that many out there in the mental health field may agree with me.  One day, you are up.  The next day, you are completely down.  It doesn’t matter how much people that love you try to encourage you:  if you are down.  That is it.  You are down and nobody can get you out of that dreaded funk.  Nevertheless, I want to speak about something that happens to depressed people that seems to take the cake.  The ups.

When a depressed individual faces the up, and I speak from a very personal standpoint–I am by no means in the medical field–the up is rather amazing.  Suddenly, all of the pain is lifted and you rise above the waves and see the sunshine.  The feeling is better than when I used to not have depression.  For the record, I have never been diagnosed with depression.  Yet, you can probably tell that I don’t need to walk into a doctor’s office and get this thing certified.  Suicidal thoughts have plagued me from a very young age.  I just never took action because of a couple of strange things that keep me walking on earth:

  • I still believe in miracles
  • I still believe the world is a beautiful place (even with all of the trash that exists in it)
  • I still believe that God can turn my situations around
  • I like to live with hope that things will change
  • I believe that when I have a breakthrough (the up) I experience it from a very positive place.
  • I love to look back and say “man, I cannot believe how depressed I was then.  Look at me now!”
  • I believe that my pain is due to a season of transformation and change; therefore, I must experience the pain to experience the ‘up.’

I think I know what you are thinking.  Yes, I am a “professional worrier” that lacks faith in the areas where I usually need it the most (remember, sarcastic Christian here!).  Anyway, I feel that I can say these things freely because I know who I am.  Or better yet, I have come to know myself a bit better than yesterday.  I also am not afraid to let out whatever is bothering me. I am comfortable being this person–although many, MANY, MANY times I cannot stand myself!

Also, I am not a hypocrite.  I am not the type of person that will tell you that God will take care of all of your troubles; therefore, you must show trust and be happy because He has this!  Absolutely NO.  I am the type to tell you that, while I believe that God is behind the scenes in all of my troubles, I believe that the transformation comes with a TRUCKLOAD of pain.  I believe that without pain, you cannot learn what exactly is being perfected in you.  Here’s the kicker:  I would not be able to commit suicide because I still believe that, even when I say ‘what’s the point,’ I know that God has a point.  I believe that my very statements of pointlessness are the reason that God finds me relevant.

I think He would say the same about you.  So, perhaps this post does not reflect all of the beauty that a Christian post should present.  Perhaps this isn’t your common religious essay where by the end of it, you feel empowered.  The point is to give you something that is real in me.  I am leaving all pretensions and showing you the real me.  I truly hope that you live a life that looks into the future with the intensity of a ‘yes’ and the possibility of an ‘up.’  I would say that I still believe you should give life a big YES.

The waves

Depression is like a room engulfed in flames and you can’t breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp – and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building … You don’t try to kill yourself because death is appealing – but because life is agonizing. We don’t want to die. But we can’t stand to be devoured.” Ann Voskamp

The pain; like the waves of the sea

I have been very resilient for most of my life.  There have been a lot of times when I simply didn’t feel powerful at all; yet there was something that always allowed me to bounce back.  Today is not one of those days.  There is one person in my life that can cut through the walls of emotional protection that I have built; that is my husband.  His opinion means a lot to me; and sometimes, a bit too much.

As you may know from reading this blog, I have been unemployed for some time.  There was a time in my life when I truly felt that I was thriving so fast and furiously that I thought I’d surely make it to the top.  The things started to change.  I met people that simply had no moral value to their character.  I had to make choices to either be part of it, be the ‘better person’ by continuously making better personal choice–yet being impacted directly/indirectly by their bad behaviors, or walk away from it all.  I chose the last option. I quit.  With quitting came a bunch of financial and emotional mess.  I can say that today I am emotionally in a better place.  Financially, I would say that we simply manage as much as we can.  My student loans are on deferment, when in the past I used to pay as I went to school.  It has been close to 3 months since I’ve been unemployed.

I have found it truly hard to find another job.  Yes, I have been offered opportunities.  The problem is that coming from a negative background in the type of work that I do, it has been hard for me to move into any of these opportunities.  The first reason is that many of these smaller companies have no clear goals or vision to what they do.  In the world of contracting, you can see from a mile away when I company may not be able to make it.  I am not intending to build a resume full of ‘mini opportunities.’  The larger companies that I have targeted have called me…I didn’t make their cut.  I have replayed in my head what I have done wrong.  Nevertheless, I try to go back to my faith and keep telling myself “God didn’t want you there.”  The problem is that I don’t know how long that’s going to help me.  Its almost like giving myself a pat on the back…but how long is this going to work?

Today, my husband came home in a horrible mood.  Speaking badly about people in our home, down playing when people do nice things for him…just horrible.  I could not stand it so I stood my ground and stated that I would not put up with this foul treatment.  He laughed at me.  I know that I sound bitchy right now, but in my emotional situation and with all of this going on in my life, I felt betrayal.  I felt that he cannot be happy with anything.  Later on, he attempted to touch me but I just couldn’t bare it.  I told him that if he wanted to laugh at me, and it pleased and made him feel good, to go ahead.  I said that I am already a joke, he is just another one getting with the program.

So, for years I have felt that my husband saw me as another paycheck.  I have never felt that he valued me as a wife, mother, a woman.  I have always felt that he only saw my value as long as I brought money home.  Today, I have nothing for him.  I have nothing but requests and debt.  It is very demoralizing to feel this way.  I feel that I should die, but I am too chicken to go through with it.  Plus, I know that people that commit suicide are selfish and end up burning in hell.  I am not being sarcastic, just saying how I feel.  No, I’m not going to go kill myself.  That’s ridiculous, and it would negatively affect my children.

I have prayed that God will provide the way so that others won’t suffer, and I will stop occupying space on earth that I don’t deserve.

I am drowning.

Why are opinions so hard to digest?

Ever wonder why opinions are so hard to put up with?  As much as we want to respect differing points of view, it is truly hard to understand why other people think so different from you.  It is easier to say that you respect someone for thinking differently, than it is to actually do it.  There are subjects in which each one of us is truly passionate about.  We feel that we are correct towards that subject.  We feel that our view makes sense, and why would anyone disagree with it?

The truth is that we form attachments towards certain subjects as a result of our life experiences, upbringing, culture, socioeconomic background, religion, and so forth.  Opinions are the result of a thought process that started its formation long before you realized that you thought a certain way.  There are times when we, ourselves, have no clue about how we feel towards a topic until someone introduces the subject to us.  The tough times come not from the formation of that opinion, but from the argument and disagreement that takes place with others that disagree.

What is the origin of a disagreement?  This is simple, and I am certain that you would tell me something along these lines:  “disagreement is the lack of agreement; the absence of like-mindedness among people, etc.”  Once you realize that equal thoughts emerge from the aspects that I outlined above, you can at least, move forward with more clarity.  The question is not “how do I get them to agree with me?” but “how can we disagree and still relate to each other civilly?”  My answer is quite sarcastic and simple:  mind your own business.

Listen, unless it is something that will hurt someone, breaks the law, is in violation of rights…and the rest of the legal/relational stuff:  I recommend you to mind your own business.  This does not mean that you cannot have a nice, healthy, heated debate.  It means that you do not allow yourself to lose sleep over a difference of opinions.  There are those of you who will find it hard to understand why your friend of “x amount of years” cannot agree with you on this one thing that is SO IMPORTANT TO SAVING HUMANITY.  The truth is that your friend and neighbor has every right to think for themselves.

I always say that rather than being against something, try to be for something.  Your perspective of life will change dramatically.   I used to be the type that would think about disagreement of opinions, especially the political/religious type of topic, and would just toss and turn at night trying to figure out why people thought a certain way.  I just could not wrap in my mind that others also had the same right to feel, say, or express an idea that was different than mind.  How limiting to be this way!  I found myself in the very misery of what I had created.  I went as far as breaking friendships because we did not agree.  I was so almighty, all-knowledge, all-power, all-right, all-perfect.  When in reality, I was wasting away these wonderful relationships and friendships that could have resulted in strong bonds.  I write this from the perspective of the jerk that could not, and would not, accept that others also had the ability to think on their own.

So what are we to do when things get tough and we suddenly feel that we no longer “like” someone?  We get over ourselves.  Listen, you can have a healthy friendship where you establish parameters of communication.  If you know, in your heart that you cannot deal with someone else’s difference of ideas, then you need to stay away from having a conversation that may lead to a weird argument or the exercise of the silent treatment.  If your religion has a certain set of believes, such as mine within the Christian construct, you need to ask yourself whether you are showing and extending true love.  Your job is not to judge, or convince that person of your opinions, but to extend mercy.  We extend mercy by accepting the relationship…never by judging.  If you are concerned about a friend’s lifestyle, you can safely express it without pushing away that person.  Remember that you are not perfect either.

As a Christian, I have friends from many walks of life that do not necessarily conform to the Christian lifestyle.  I have learned to show love in the place that I am in.  This does not mean that I am a passive Christian, or that I am simply okay with anything that my friends do…it means that I have openly showed who I am and that they are forever welcomed in a safe place of respect and love.

You may disagree with me, but this is who I am.  Would love to hear your opinions, whether they are in agreement or disagreement of mind.

Joy and happiness are two different things

I have often seen the terms “joy” and “happiness” used interchangeably by people.  The problem is that, although these seem to derive from similar decisions, they are truly not the same.  Not to get too “churchy” on you, but Christians have a different perspective on what joy is, and what happiness represents.  I am presenting to you this highly opinionated post from a Christian perspective; however, do not just dump it and move on.  There is quite a lot that you can get out of this.

Joy is an emotion that demonstrates a sense of content.  Being content does not mean that you have settled for something that is lesser than what you deserve.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  It means that you are at peace with yourself, that you have lived enough to know that things will work out.  You have also learned to “get over it” and move on with your life.  This all sounds very negative; however, these are true statements.  Joy is not an emotion or a word that you use as vengeance, but as an empowering feeling that no miserable memory can take away.  In the Bible, there is a verse that speaks of joy as a term of resiliency.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-3 (NIV).

Therefore, one can truly find joy in the trials that are presented in life.  I remember being present during the last living days of my maternal grandmother.  He was in such absolute pain from cancer that was eating at her red cells.  I prayed that either God would please remove the pain and bring her back to normal, or to get rid of all pain by sending her to grandma heaven.  My grandmother died about a week after my prayer.  I was devastated, but felt joy because I felt that she was now at peace, in a way better place than cancer!  I felt joy in my time of mourning because I was convinced that God was with me in this impact-full life trial.

Happiness is an emotion that can be confused with other emotions.  It is also dependent upon a stimuli.  Therefore, an individual cannot truly feel happy if not triggered to be happy from any source deemed to make funny the individual.

My recommendation is that you seek out a positive emotion, and exercise it like an actual muscle.  You will be surprised at how much you will want joy over happiness.

 

Politics…why opinions form and stick

You all have seen the recent political environment in the US.  Things are just out of sync these days; although I personally like think this is how the media portrays the environment.  This is certainly a non-partisan post, but don’t roll your eyes at me just yet.  It is non-partisan because I hold no labels—I’m a Psychology PhD major—I feel “funny” when I hear my name compared to something else (unless I call it to myself).  The point is that today, things tend to be captured in images and pictures.  If you look at many of the social media platforms, the end result is a salad of your life captured in:

  • Catchy memes (that express how you feel at the very moment that you post them)
  • Pictures
  • Pictures accompanied with a phrase
  • Pictures accompanied by a quote
  • Songs
  • Videos
  • Emojies
  •  Most recently…live video feeds that you can do from your different technology
  • More to come (I guess; I’m no technology guru)

It seems to me that our country goes through these “flavor of the moment” phases where we decide that a certain topic will be all the hotness and we literally lose our minds over the subject.  Now, to clarify:  I am not stating that these things are not important.  My statement comes from taking a step back and thinking whether we are treating each one of these circumstances objectively.  Is there an end to these things?  This is where we evaluate whether we need to be part of these activities or not.

  • What are the results sought?  If you hear things like “to get attention” or “to develop brotherhood/sisterhood,” “to show that I am tired of it,” and so forth.  These are signs that you may need to think about it a bit deeper.  In the end, we all want RESULTS that provide a true change.  Getting attention is find, but will the RESULTS show?
    • EXAMPLE:  I once joined a group that brainstormed ideas, discussed the purpose of something that we wanted to change at an Executive level, and were able to write a law that was actually enacted by the President.  He does not know who we are by name, but these activities truly changed the course of certain laws affecting the low to middle class workforce.
    • What am I saying here?  I would say, personally, that thinking and pairing your brains with people that are willing to work intellectually towards a goal can be so much more rewarding in the end.

Also, take into consideration who is relating the information to you.  I have seen in many platforms celebrities as the main source of inspiration and information.  Listen, a celebrity has a job and it is usually to promote something, sing, act, and most importantly…promote themselves.  Research your sources with an open mind and a neutral mindset.  Do not believe everything a political party has to say about a topic (haha…okay, you knew this already!).  Having an open mind to make your own assessments does not make you ignorant, on the contrary, it puts you above all individuals that respond emotionally to popular topics.  Perception becomes reality, isn’t that something?  But it certainly does not have to be this way.  If you live in the US, then you know that at least you are entitled to believe, think, express, and do whatever you please (as long as you don’t violate someone’s rights).

What is the tangible end result?  Be yourself.

Choices

Choices are a thing of mystery to me.  The reason why I find choices so miserably entertaining is because they are oftentimes the reason why we become so miserable.  I am speaking of any type of choice:  food, life changes, career issues, decisions, clothes, “what to wear to the party,” gift selections, Cheerios or Fruity Pebbles…you get it.

Choices bring with them an unseen 2-part problem.  The first problem is that without choices, we would complain about the lack of them.  The second problem is that with various choices, we may never be able to make a selection so…we complain for having so many of them.

There are other problems that can pile up on top of the two main issues that I presented.  Cultural background, gender, communication style, religious background (yes, I said it!), mood, and so forth are also aspects that may impact how individuals make decisions that lead to choices.  Nevertheless, I have a potential solution.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to give you the secret to life (which I personally recognize as Jesus…don’t laugh if you don’t believe…this is my blog–don’t censor me as I wouldn’t do that to you).  ANYWAY…I am going to give you a very simplistic way to make your choices; however,  I must warn you that you may completely dislike what I have to say.  On the flip side, I warned you about that when you were introduced to my blog so there.

Here’s my simplistic approach:  You already know what you want.  Oh stop disagreeing with me!  Yes, you do know what you want.  There’s a huge difference between being indecisive, or between two choices than not knowing at all.  You can even test what I am saying.  Let me give you a quick exercise; it is quite predictable but bare with me.  Let’s say you go to a fast food restaurant.  You get in line, wait your turn, and then finally you are right in front of the store attendant.  You are ready to order.  You give the attendant your order and she proceeds to ask:  “would you like your meal with soda or orange juice?”

STOP!  You already thought about what you want.  You either what you want, or you may think about it for a bit.  You may become indecisive; nevertheless, you did think of an answer.  You probably thought “I want soda, but orange juice is a bit healthier—I should go with the juice.”  Let’s say that you end up ordering the orange juice under the notion that it is somehow better than the Coca -Cola.  However, you can certainly pinpoint the time in which you thought about ordering the Coca-Cola.

I know this is a very simple exercise; nevertheless, the example provided you with a glimpse at how fast we tend to make decisions.  It is how fast we share those ideas that will communicate what we are asking for.  However, keep in mind that what we communicate is not always a reflection of what we actually want.  Either way, a choice takes place.  This is a very simplistic method of decision making, but it allows you to see how quick you are in making choices.

Do you want to make choices?  Put yourself in the above-mentioned exercise.  It will help you realize that making a choice is not as hard as we all think.

 

When we all agree

If we agree with everything each one of us says, does, and thinks…my sincere condolences:  you are dead.  Wanna come back to life?  A-R-G-U-E.  Not for the sake of arguing, but for your own sake.

I happen to think that debate, whether over simple or complicated subjects, is a matter of necessity.  How else would you know that there’s blood still flowing through your veins.  Look at the U.S. right now with the election issue…it is alive.  Hopefully you do not take this as me applauding the arguments that lead to violence and hatred.  That is not what this is about…no, no, no…bring yourself back.  Let’s not take ourselves too far out.

I am simply stating that if we are all agreeing with each other and do not learn the value of disagreement, then we are in for a rude awakening.  Thinking exactly alike never helped anyone.  Agreement does not effectuate change; nevertheless, disagreement leads to discussion which leads to the expansion of ideas…which leads to a changing world.  Wouldn’t you agree that a world without argument would be a boring world?  I think so…

“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”  George S. Patton