Listening to a YouTube this week from Eckhart Tolle, I was struck by his description of his debilitating depression. As a boy of 6, he had suicidal ideation – thinking that if worst came to worst, he could jump off the scaffolding that was alongside his 4-story building during a remodeling effort. Whoa!
The depression stayed with him until his awakening at age 29. He notes that a lot of the problem was his negative self-talk. Very harsh. In the outer world he worked too much. And he had trouble finding a girlfriend because of his shyness. His breakthrough changed everything…
IF ONLY IT WERE THAT FAST FOR EVERYONE
He talks about how often our negative experiences push us into a shift. Not all will be as lucky as he was with this. His shift was from a spontaneous awakening where the depressed side of him suddenly became the lesser of his identity, and a new self / side emerged. That side was… well, happy. Peaceful. This happened in an afternoon, though there were years of suffering before that.
It’s kind of like that term, overnight success. It’s never overnight, people remind us – often it’s more like over-decades success. Eckhart dealt with his pain and self-loathing for twenty plus years. And then he realized, he couldn’t live with himself any longer. And Pop! His transformation occurred.
THOUGHT CHANGING TOOLS AND CBT FOR DEPRESSION
One of the major tools of psychotherapy is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. An evidence-based tool, this helps you monitor and shift thoughts. You have hundreds/thousands of thoughts in a day, and often they’re fear-based and survival-focused. They might point out your problems or alleged deficiencies.
They are not usually very nice. Kind of primitive and to the point. You suck, might be an example. You’re going to mess this up. Who do you think you are? They might wonder. But usually they are answering questions – not asking them. They’ll say, yeah, you think you’re cool but really, you’re lame and selfish.
Ouch! Even giving examples is so harsh. But I haven’t even told you the worst thing about these thoughts.
THOUGHTS ARE OFTEN UNDER THE RADAR
These thoughts often are not obvious. You’ll wake up stressed or funky. You’ll get anxious or sad, when you were sailing along quite happily, thank you. So the first step with thought work is often just noticing the thought.
This means not guessing what the thought is with a layer of sugar on it. Or guessing what question it’s asking. No, you need to ask yourself, what am I telling myself? Usually there is already a conclusion made in these cases. It can often be the worst case scenario getting stated. Step one is bringing that train of thought out of the shadows. And getting more aware as things go south.
NAME IT TO TAME IT
One way to start mastering thoughts, which is about 33% of good stress management? Name that mug. Ask, what am I telling myself? Say you find yourself in the funk. Back up and try to discover, when things went south yesterday, what was I telling myself?
Write that statement out. In all it’s glory. “I’ll never be able to X. I think I’m good at this but I really suck. At least compared to Y.” Something like this.
STEP 2 and 3
Step 2 – Then ask, is this thought true? And ask – is it helpful? There is usually some truth there. But it’s not stated in a helpful way.
Step 3 – take the truth and make the thought work for you. Tweak it. The above thought becomes an affirmation even: This is challenging, and I will learn a lot. OR Each time I do this I get better, though it sure stretches me.
WATCH STRESS LEVELS DROP
You don’t need to get stress levels to a zero. But if it was an 8 on a scale of 1-10, this stress-based anxiety, sadness, frustration etc., it will usually drop down a few points. And a 5 of 10 stress level, versus an 8 of 10? Much better. Noticeable difference.
After some time and practice, you’ll catch these buds before they even begin to bloom. You’ll be derailed by hard feelings less often. That means more enjoyment, and more fulfillment of your purpose. You become more fun to be around too.
ECKHART’S AWAKENING? WE WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING
It’s a good thing 6-year-old Eckhart didn’t jump off the roof. It’s a painful story, to hear how much he suffered. In this case there was a happy ending. Look at the millions he’s helped! No, it will not likely be that easy for so many others. Good thing there are tools, and Amazon Stress Zapping practices. Join us if you need to diversify and streamline your stress mgmt. toolbox. Today you need to reclaim your amazon. And not the shopping kind.
Learn more about the upcoming Amazon Stress Zapping webinar and groups