The definition of “happy” from Webster’s dictionary is— “happy [ˈhap ē] ADJECTIVE 1. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” So what makes us unhappy? Our thoughts, perhaps? We will dive into just that during this article.
It seems like a pretty basic and easy thing to do right, to feel pleasure or contentment? So, why does it seem so hard for people? Specifically, people that struggle with depression.
I work with clients that struggle with depression and anxiety and as someone that struggled with the same issues for most of my life, I have seen some common themes and traits.
- Extremely Sensitive Individuals
- Feelings of low self-worth or unworthiness
- Nonstop inner critic and negative self-talk
- Fear of judgment and criticism by others
- Always feeling different and frequently feeling like you don’t fit in
I want to call out that I am not a Psychiatrist. I am a Holistic Health Coach. I help others by using my own experiences and struggles with depression, things I have seen in working with clients, and the knowledge that I have accumulated in life, through reading books, certifications programs, etc. I incorporate these tools and approaches that have really made an impact on my life and the people that I have helped.
I am passionate about teaching my clients “to fish”, by giving them things that they can do, so that when life happens, they have some tools in their toolbox that can help them. I teach them natural and holistic ways to find balance, peace, and happiness in life. You can find out more about me and my holistic center at Holistic Life Community. We provide services in person or remotely.
I look at my own journey and I realized that I had developed these perceptions or ideologies that I was not “good enough” because of some external event that happened when I was a child. Something that was out of my control.
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But that limiting belief of not being “good enough” and “worthless” started as a child and continued well into my 40’s. Subconsciously, that is how I was filtering situations or things that happened in my life. Interactions with people, events, etcetera were filtered through this lens. In pretty much any experience, I would let in the things that validated this belief and filter out the other things that did not agree with this belief system.
In my mid 40’s, I got off of the hamster wheel of the chaotic life that most of us live. I left my prestigious corporate job and slowed down. I had to. I was so unhappy, my depression was at an all-time high, I was 35 lbs overweight and I was having 5-6 panic attacks every day. I was living in a state of panic and chronic stress.
Slowing down gave me time to start recognizing these patterns that were impacting my health and preventing me from being happy.
The first thing that I noticed was how I was talking to myself. My internal dialogue. Well, I have to be honest, I was not talking to anyone the way that I was talking to myself. I would call myself “a f**** idiot” an a regular basis. Now why was that ok? I would NEVER, talk to anyone that way. Why was it ok to talk to myself that way?
What changed my inner critic was a book I read by Dr. Joe Dispenza called Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself. (I’m in New England and if you have a library card you can listen to the free audio book off of Hoopla Digital. I assume it is similar in most states as they are linked with the local library systems.)
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According to Dr. Joe, we have over 70,000 thoughts a day. I know it’s a lot. Now, if most of these thoughts are negative toward yourself or even to the outside world, that is the lens that you are going to filter things on.
This conscious awareness was my first step in changing my old patterns of feeling “unworthy” and “not good enough”. I began to pay attention to my thoughts and how I was talking to myself. This awareness started me on my journey of overcoming my depression, panic attacks, and weight issues.
If you are tired of carrying around the weighted blanket of depression, you need to take the first step to break the old pattern and belief system that was created. You can not keep doing the same things and expecting a different result. This, as they say, is the definition of “insanity”.
Something has to change.
Here is a great exercise to start you on your journey. Grab a small notebook or use your phone and for one day really pay attention to your thoughts. And each time, you say something negative about yourself, someone else, or a situation, then make a tally mark. You won’t be perfect and there will still be a lot that will slip by, but I guarantee you that your mouth will drop at the end of the day when you tally up those marks and realize what percentage of your thoughts are negative.
I use this as my guiding post when I find my negative thoughts go into overdrive. It is usually because I am extremely stressed or panicked about something. Now when I get a stream of negative thoughts, I question them. I like to use the rules of the famous philosopher, Rumi.
“Every thought should go through Three Gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?“
Start paying attention and pushing back on your thoughts and those old patterns that developed so long ago. Most of them are probably not true, and if they are, it is not necessary to continue to shame and criticize yourself.
Laura is a Holistic Health Coach & Founder of Holistic Life Community in Wakefield, MA. She opened this center to be a resource & provide a community of holistic professionals that are dedicated and passionate in helping, educating & guiding people on their journey to find health, balance and joy in life again. Her 3 daughters propelled her into this work, when they were born with severe food allergies. Regular medicine provided no solutions, so she went on a mission to find a way to help her kids. She looked to Alternative Medicine and found holistic approaches that cured her kids of their food allergies, Lyme Disease and then her own life long struggle with depression & anxiety. She is passionate about giving people hope using holistic approaches.
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