Friday, 23 September 2016

The Long Journey to Happiness

autumn leaves

Over the last year, I've been taking small steps to improve my mental health; including making it my new year's resolution to believe in myself, taking antidepressants, having a gratitude jar, practicing mindfulness, and reading self-help books. At the time, they didn't feel like much. But recently I was doing one of the techniques in Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins (I'll most likely post a review once I've finished the whole book) and I noticed a shift in my way of thinking. Perhaps this was a part of a much longer journey, going all the way back to my university days when I started my first counselling sessions - but everything I learned there and learned using mindfulness sort of clicked with what I was learning in the book, and I felt like happiness was suddenly within my reach.

autumn leaves

The particular chapter I was reading was about disempowering beliefs, which I didn't even realise I had until I began the exercise - and you might not, either. For example, you might think that to have money you have to be greedy or immoral, which will subconsciously prevent you from reaching your potential. I have quite a few disempowering beliefs, but my biggest one is that having Depression is part of my identity. 

I can see where this idea came from: I've had Depression since my teens, so maybe learning to accept it was a coping mechanism. I'm also very creative, so maybe I believed that being Depressed somehow makes me a better artist. Maybe I thought that being unhappy made me more empathetic. Perhaps being emotionally numb meant that I was never hurt or disappointed because I didn't care anyway. Maybe it was a combination of all of those things. Either way, I had to change it.

autumn crunchy leaves

Depression and being emotionally numb is my defence mechanism against the world. It all started because a long time ago, I was feeling too much and couldn't handle it. One of the biggest things I'm scared of is getting better, and then something triggering another episode and feeling bad all over again. 

In the book, Tony goes through how to deconstruct the disempowering belief, and it starts with really examining it and realising why it's so unhealthy. I had to come clean with myself and admit that there really is no way to defend yourself against the world. By focusing on the bad, I am missing everything that's good. I constantly beat myself up for being a "failure", but if I keep feeling bad about myself I won't have the focus and determination I need to succeed in life. I want my blog and my YouTube channel to be a big part of my career, and I don't believe I'll be able to do that if I'm miserable. As I was thinking all of these things... I felt the shift. It's too soon to tell you if I'm magically cured, but all I know is that I feel better right now and I want to take advantage of that.

Maybe Tony Robbins is a genius. Maybe I finally got sick of being unhappy and refused to feel like that anymore. Or maybe the book was the final, small step I needed after years of counselling, CBT, medication, videos and articles. Either way, I'm happy. And it's pretty amazing.

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