One of the great things about depression and anxiety is that we see things how they are in reality. Our views are not colored by undue positivity or wishful thinking. Right now, you’re thinking, “he said what?” Yes, there have been studies that show people who are depressed and people who have conquered their depression, quite accurately describe real life and real-life situations.
Approximately 7 out of 10 people who go into treatment also have some level of depression and anxiety. Why? Alcoholism and addiction are just a depressing way to live. Drugs and alcohol, for the most part, are central nervous system depressants. We deal with death and destruction on a daily- if not hourly,- basis. If you’re in active addiction you’d be insane if you weren’t riddled with anxiety and depressed. You would have to mentally compartmentalize your entire day just to survive.
So, I’ve identified why this is the way it is, but how do you change it? The only thing that has worked for me is this:
If I want to feel good, I must do good things. I have to do good things every day. I have to act my way into better thinking. I cannot think my way into better actions.
Especially if something negative is bringing me down one day, I need to counteract that feeling by doing something positive. I need to adjust my perspective on what’s negative, and find a caveat that can turn a terrible situation into one that’s kind of okay. For my own sanity.
Count the Positives, Not the Negatives
Does that sound like a corny 12-step treatment center motivational poster? I think so too, but for me it just happens to really work well. My friend Dominic says that the only way to overcome negativity is to achieve. That there is nothing that success and achievement doesn’t cure. In business there’s a saying “sales cures all” (Mark Cuban). Meaning that good sales in a business will cure all problems. Poor sales in a great company end a company.
For instance, if you’re not happy with your financial situation. The only thing that will repair that is more money. So, get a new job that pays better, get a side gig, work two jobs for a while, win the lottery. When you achieve (earn) more money, you’ll feel better. The same with your education. If lack of education is holding you back, get that GED, get that associates degree, get that bachelors or masters or doctorate, then get another. Achieving those goals will make you happier in a host of different ways.
For me, at my stage in recovery, it’s about good deeds and good actions. What some people refer to as esteem-able acts. It’s just trying to do the next right thing. Most of us fail at this miserably every day. We’re human, we are emotional beings. All we can do is collect more positives than negatives.
I really don’t feel like being on my best behavior every minute of the day. I don’t want to be thinking of others all the time. I don’t want to be in another man’s shoes most of the day. It’s about trying to do those things. It’s about the effort to be better every day. Also, frankly, a lot of people are just jerks and I don’t want to treat them nicely. But it does me no good to treat anyone poorly.
Today I am responsible for my actions, regardless of another person’s actions. I try to keep my side of the street clean. But I am known to take the bait. I am known for meeting fire with fire. It’s my single biggest character defect.
So, if you’re depressed or anxious, try helping someone. Do service work. Achieve something by taking the first steps. The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step and you’ll never get to the finish line of achievement by never starting. Negative feelings don’t have to linger, they can be replaced with positive feelings.
If your or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to us at 877-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Our addiction specialists are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.