"Our perception is our reality." - Rene Descartes

To change your life, you must first change your mind. It's not simple or easy, and holding onto our antiquated bastions of thought--things we've held onto for so long and have often learned in childhood--feels more natural and oftentimes even feels more correct.

Depression and illnesses like it or that involve it have plenty of commands and ideologies that affect our feelings and perceptions of the world. What we perceive is our reality, so if suffering from paranoia, one's thought processes are going to embrace paranoia-fueled details. If suffering from low self-esteem, our interactions will suffer as well, because we will take things more personally and/or overemphasize criticism. 

There was a time, like many people who suffer from depressive symptoms, during which I asked both myself and my therapists--and quite vocally might I add--how looking at the glass "half full" was going to actually change any aspect of my life; how thoughts could make such a big change when reality was there, ever-present, hanging over me like a dark cloud. No one made much of an effort to explain, so I naturally resisted CBT techniques that I eventually came to agree with when I opened up my mind.

I still believe "reality" sucks. I would love to meet a unicorn or fly with Falkor in the night sky or have telekinetic powers. But I can't do those things; I know I can't do those things. Some people believe they can read minds. Can they? Well, they believe they can, and "faith" to many people is the same as "knowledge." So, they know they can read minds--even though they really can't. But to them, if a cashier appears unfriendly, they will match their thoughts to her mind and convince themselves they know the exact reason for her unfriendliness. Framed that way, it's much easier to understand and grasp.

So, "reality" still sucks. But it sucks a lot less than it used to for me. My reality used to be littered with demons and ghosts and evil intentions, and sometimes it still is. It used to be littered with death thoughts in which death was a strong competitor against life; the more inviting character; the only solution to my problems. It was dark and painful and it still comes back, but as a whole, I am better than I was. And thus, so is life.

+/- Self-Talk

You hear about this everywhere. "Positive self-talk," "negative self-talk," and that "self-talk" is a big thing. But it's a big thing for a reason. Have you ever seen Banksy's street art image in which the phrase "if you tell a lie enough, it becomes politics" is graffitied all over the wall? Not to get political, but it's often true. The more you hear something, the more normalized it will be. That's why some thing are dangerous to hear too many times. That's why certain practices are dangerous to perform. Normalization of a statement or an idea frequently morphs into a common "truth," regardless of whether or not it is actually true.

"Positive" affirmations are healthy things you say to yourself every day. Look in the mirror, tell yourself you're beautiful, and go on about your day. "I am beautiful" is a positive affirmation. Do a healthful activity or exercise you enjoy and tell yourself, "I am making a healthy change in my life." "I am making a healthy change in my life" is another positive affirmation.

I am vocally passionate about being genuine, which was another reason this self-talk change had to be subtler for me than the strength at which I visit it here. I felt telling myself things I didn't believe was wrong. One catalyst that was big enough to put me in the right direction was the thought, Someone taught me that I wasn't beautiful. Who was it, and what right did they have?

While everyone has opinions and while many people form opinions about things or people they do not know anything about, some people are incredibly vocal about them. And while there are bound to people who do find you genuinely attractive or unattractive, as we are all different, who are they to tell you how to look to yourself? Learn to find the things you are good at and things you enjoy. Congratulate yourself for a job well done or even a job simply completed. 

You can do this!

P.S. The glass is refillable.

Published by Veronica V. Hough