I recently asked members in our private Facebook group for topics they’d like me to write about. One suggestion I received was this:
I want to hear about something you struggled with, how you overcame it, and how you didn’t let it affect your outlook on life or change your attitude or make you shut down — how do you not let things in life just not bring you down, how do you keep up the positivity when your mental state is hitting that low depression line.
This topic was extremely challenging for me to write about as I feel like I am just someone who moves forward naturally. “It is what it is.” I don’t recall a time where I lamented defeat, I don’t hold grudges, I don’t have major regrets, being resourceful is my superpower and I like a challenge. Luckily, I do not know what depression feels like. I do know it’s real, as I’ve watched people I care about struggle, but I’m fortunate not to have the past history or the gene or the chemical make-up that leads to depression.
So, how do I personally keep positive? Perhaps the answer lies in the age-old concepts of nature and nuture. On the the “nurture” end, my mother is very positive, while my dad is a hardass – I believe my psyche contains a blend of both of parents. Be positive, but get shit done. On the other hand, maybe “nature” is to credit, as my brother (raised by the same parents), had a very different personality than me and did struggle with depression. So, maybe I just “am” the way I am?
In digging deeper, I have to reflect on the most difficult time in my life.
Hands-down my biggest struggle was losing my only sibling, Neil, in a car accident a few years ago. In true fashion, I forged ahead, making sure to handle everything for my parents and move full steam ahead with rebranding our business and continuing to handle my daily tasks. I pushed my feelings below the surface in many ways. Months later, I was sad. I had filled my time with work in order to not grieve. What got me past that difficult time was a lot of self-talk and meditation. I had to acknowledge that my feelings were normal. It was ok to feel angry or lost or dark. I reflected upon so many great moments spent with Neil and realized I was lucky to have him. Despite my pain, I’d rather have had him for 39 years than not at all. I identified the ways in which I would like to be more like him. I also told myself that everyone experiences great loss. It was simply my turn. I was able to gain strength knowing that I was not alone in tragedy.
Today, I read the quote “when life gets blurry, adjust your focus.” It made me realize that’s what I inherently do. Life is a series of unexpected events and pivots. Things don’t always turn out as we’ve planned – sometimes it’s worse, sometimes better. Processing my feelings, knowing I am not alone and changing my focus allow me to forge ahead without having a victim’s mentality. Again, self-talk.
Take the current pandemic where life has changed for everyone and my business was threatened. Instead of focusing on what is or isn’t “fair,” I reflected on what I could do. Control what I can control. I realized that people count on me and need support. So, I decided to lead and it became my focus to add value to lives and strengthen the business I had built.
I don’t know if this is helpful to anyone, as things like depression are crippling at times. But, I believe life is a series of decisions. And the best decision isn’t always the easiest. Dig deep into the root of what you’re feeling and why. Make the decision to forge ahead, change, pivot, refocus. Acknowledge feelings. Talk to yourself. I believe we are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for.