Do you feel like a burden to everyone in your life?
You think things would be easier for your loved ones if you were not around.
Perhaps because you're always depressed or anxious.
You have to depend heavily on your family and this makes you feel useless.
Or perhaps you feel so fragile that the prospects of going out, getting a job and holding the job down terrifies you.
And so, you feel like there's no way out of your negative circumstances. Hence you feel hopeless.
It's hard when it feels like you're jammed in a corner and there's no way forward.
But can I be honest with you for a second?
The real problem here is not because there is no way forward.
The real problem is that you have fallen into something I call “The Mountain View Trap.”
Because when you're on top a tall mountain, it's impossible to see anything at the bottom of the mountain clearly. If someone at the bottom of the mountain was holding a bucket full of gold for you, you wouldn't know because everything's so little.
What's my point?
One of the biggest traps in depression is a tendency to stop seeing small achievements, small positives and small wins as valuable.
You ignore the fact that you can wake up and make a cup of tea for yourself today when you couldn't do it three days ago.
Because making a cup of tea is no big deal when all you want is to get a job that pays well.
You ignore the fact that your lovely daughter gave you a warm smile today.
Because you feel you have been a useless mother for not taking her out to the park enough. All because you are always too tired. So that warm smile makes you feel more guilty than happy.
You ignore the fact that you could tidy up the house today, when you could barely get out of bed just yesterday.
Because everyone tidies their house that's no big deal!
Here's a question...
If you were mentoring a child, who you got to do something as small as not hiding away whenever he feels anxious, would you tell the child that this is not an achievement?
Surely you wouldn't!
Because saying this would discourage the child.
And that's what's happening here.
The truth is...
Because you are not able to see all your small progress as achievements it promotes a lot of discouragement for you.
You feel the vast number of things you have to break through are humongous, so these petty little things don't count.
This is a mighty trap that will nullify anything you do to recover.
And I know...
As you read this you might be feeling more hopeless. Because you feel like I am highlighting yet another obstacle you will have to work through before even starting on everything else.
But you would be wrong to think of it like this.
You see the misconception most people have about learning to cope emotionally is that they have to break the obstacles down one at a time. One after the other.
So, if you struggle with low self-esteem, worry problems, fear of going out by yourself, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder problems and you can see that all these things are holding you back from a fruitful life.
You might think that you have to work through each problem and overcome them one at a time before you can recover. But this is the misconception.
If you do the right things, what should happen is an experience that feels more like a domino effect.
Dealing with one thing affects other things. If you persevere with your recovery process, eventually your brain will generalize your efforts across the rest of the emotional obstacles you are dealing with.
Once you understand how to apply the core concepts, your brain takes over and starts to work with you instead of against you. Although you are focusing on one thing, your brain is applying your efforts to many things.
As such, if you are able to get up and make yourself a cup of tea after a week of lying in bed feeling demotivated not able to do anything...
If you give your brain the chance and space it needs...
Your brain is able to use that one action to trigger more ability for motivation and progress.
You give your brain this chance by valuing your small wins.
When you do this, you literally soothe your mind in a way that makes you feel able to start living and stop just surviving.
If you don't spend time appreciating your small wins, you will never know that you have the ability to succeed. And if you don't know this you naturally feel hopeless.
The process of progress with any complex problem is more often win a little and then lose a little. If you only focus on the loss or the big wins, your life will feel demotivating and hopeless.
My journey as a father has been both a sweet and painful one.
My eldest son, aged 10 is diagnosed with ADHD. Thinking of the many obstacles he has to face honestly aches my heart.
The other day I felt ecstatic because he Just managed to focus for long enough to understand some simple multiplication problem. You see, we'd been trying to help him learn this for over six months.
The next day, I got a report from his school which took the winds out of my sail.
The report informed us that he was still two years behind his classmates in maths and that he does not know his fractions and long division at all.
I could have interpreted this in a way that made me feel like a failure as a Dad. I could have berated myself for passing bad genes down to him and causing him so much pain in life.
I could have languished in a sea of negativity thinking
"What future does my son have to look forward to if he can't get through these basics."
But instead, I rejoiced in the fact that two days before he could not do his multiplication and was now able to do them.
That was three months ago, now, due to persevering, a few days ago, I was surprised to hear my son say.
"Dad... I am getting really good at multiplications."
in fact, he is also now getting good at doing fraction and long divisions as well. All because I pressed on focusing on the small wins.
How does this relate to you?
Sadly, depression revels in focusing on the negativity and this makes you feel like you are not making any progress no matter how hard you try.
And the best way to fight this insidious tactic of depression is to celebrate your small wins.
Because lurking behind every obstacle you have is a small win that begs to shine a light on abilities you don't realize you have. And progress you don't realise you've made.
Once you begin to focus on these small wins, your obstacles begin to feel like progress steps rather than roadblocks.
This will bring back colour, meaning and value into your life. This will help remind you that you’re are priceless.
Each a small step is a step you take towards progress. Each little achievement is part of a bigger ocean of progress at play in your life.
So, I encourage you to come down the mountain and celebrate your small wins...
Create a treasure book of small wins. Write down every single small win you've discounted.
And begin to treat these small wins like the gold of life which they really are.
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