Last week, I went on a bit of a rant about the darkness and disconnection that we face in our modern world. In this discussion, I introduced the concept of depression. In particular, depression as an erroneous perception related to our unhealthy and very negative societal world view.
Anyone who has suffered from depression knows that it is a condition that is more than being a little sad. Depression colors the way we view the world. We could literally be right in the center of perfection and not see it. Everyone around us could be saying how beautiful the sunrise, how loved they feel, or how much they respect us. Yet, all we’d perceive is the darkness that is our existence.
What’s more, depression isn’t something that people can turn off to please others. It isn’t an emotion or a mood. It is much deeper and complex than that.
Yes, there are emotions in the hidden depths of depression: guilt, shame, frustration, and even grief. Normally though, these feelings are transitional. They are the natural reactions that we experience as we move from one point in our life to another where we grieve the past, make peace with the present, and open to the potentials of the future.
I tend to think of depression as a waiting room of sorts. It’s a period of time that forces us to slow down and take stock. This break gives us the space we need to work through our emotions. We feel our sadness. We accept our anger. Then, we forgive ourselves for being human and release the pain. We move on. In the process, we gain valuable perspective not only about the past and who we are but also what we truly want from life.
Of course, sometimes, we get caught up in darkness. We can’t see our way around a challenge or we can’t find a way to accept our new reality. Sometimes, we get so stuck that we start to see the world in a very negative way.
Negativity, seeing the world as hell, becomes our new world view. Like any world view (any unconscious filter that we use to interpret our world), we unconsciously seek to prove this perception as true. We will literally walk right past any evidence that disproves this erroneous view in our validation efforts. Then, with every new piece of evidence, we deepen our belief that this “fact” is absolute truth.
In many ways, we see this happening in our society as a whole. Just watch the news. How many stories talk about people getting along and being kind to each other? How many sound bites validate the power of love and belonging? How often do pieces urge us to be ourselves and make the world a better place?
Not very many. After all, those kinds of stories don’t sell unless they are about animals. Is belief in the human spirit dead? Do we really only see hope in other animals?
With all that negativity fed into our psyche on a daily basis, is it any wonder that we start believing that the world is a terrible place? Is it all that surprising that when someone smiles at us that we immediately question their motives? Isn’t it clear why we’d rather hide behind a fake persona to protect ourselves than make loving connections and enjoy the beauty that the world has to offer?
Still, if depression is about coming to grips with transition, then at some point we will come through the other side, a little smarter and a lot stronger than before. Eventually, we will learn to ignore the negativity and start looking for the joys of living once more. We will realize that we want lives that are abundant with passion, meaning, and connection more than we desire instant gratification and self-indulgence. More so than that, we will all realize that a content filled life is ours for the taking.