Saturday, November 28, 2009

Overcoming Depression, Part 4

Today's tip for overcoming depression requires some serious introspection: We're going to look at our goals, and see which ones may be setting us up for failure, and/or depression.

Tip #4: Make sure your goals are things you can control.

In my experience, one of the greatest contributors to depression is the feeling of failure. Failure on the job. Failure on the social scene. Failure with family. Failure with friends. Failure trying to learn a new skill. Join a new club. Find a new outfit. And so on.

One day I realized** that my goals were actually setting me up for failure. I wanted respect, admiration, acceptance.

But you know what?

I can't make that happen. Not one of us has power to control what another person thinks and feels! We can manipulate them (if they care enough about what we think) to get them to say the words we want to hear and even exhibit the behaviors we want to see. But we can't make them love us. We can't make anyone accept us deep down inside.

I can lose weight and get in shape, BUT there's no guarantee others will think I'm beautiful.

I can do things that are friendly and might increase my likableness, such as smiling and asking others about their day, BUT I can't make them like me.

I can make all the money I want, BUT that doesn't guarantee others will value my opinion.

I can do things that are respectable, such as hold a good job and volunteer my time, BUT I can't make others respect me.

I was working hard towards my goals, but coming up short because my goals were not something I could actually accomplish! I was spinning my wheels for nothing! My goals needed adjusting! They needed to be things I could accomplish no matter how other people feel.

For example, instead of trying to lose weight so others would think I was beautiful, I realized that I needed to be in good shape and protect my health whatever they thought of my beauty. Also, I realized that as a black female in a white-male dominated career field, they might never respect me or accept me. I shifted that goal toward doing the best job that I could do. At the same time, I began to seek outlets (or pockets) of creativity where I could be myself amongst like-minded people.

My depression began to lift when, in concert with the other tips I shared previously, when I adjusted my goals. I encourage you to look at your goals and see which ones are things you cannot really control. Write down what you want to get out of life. What are you striving for? Are those dreams under your power? Or do they depend on others. I'm not saying cast aside your dreams -not at all! But if you are struggling with depression, try adding a few goals that are entirely under your control, things you can accomplish no matter how others feel about you. Then go out and do them.

My depression began to lift when, in concert with the other tips I shared previously, when I adjusted my goals and began to accept myself the way I am (which will be the 5th and final goal in this series).

Take Care,