I read a book a long time ago that really impressed me. It was called Stop Thinking, Start Living.
The author, Richard Carlson, talks about a client of his who was seeing a therapist after a divorce or the death of his wife. I can’t remember which one. At any rate, the therapist kept asking him to talk about his problems. Analyzing them.
This guy wasn’t getting any better. In fact, he was constantly depressed, because all he thought about was his problems.
Carlson got him to start thinking about other things. Sure enough, as the man started thinking about other things and filling his life with things he enjoyed, he became happy again.
You need to face your pain/sorrow/problem, but once faced, it’s time to shift your focus. You need to allow yourself to feel it and learn from it, but you don’t need to hold onto it.
It’s hard I know. Because you feel like shit, or you feel nothing at all. Or you just can’t stop thinking about the person who brought you the best memories of your life, the job you lost, the mistake you made, the thing you fucked up… But, life is filled with people and events that can bring us happiness. No, it doesn’t feel like that when we’ve just lost someone, or something. But stop being selfish about who you miss and start offering yoruself to the world. Go out there with the aim of making other people happy. In the process you’ll discover there are other people who will make your soul sing too. And if you fucked up in the past, or are fucking up at the moment, OK. So you’re a failure, now put some energy into doing something good. Even if you’re still a failure you’re now also doing good — be that studying something, doing charity work, exercising, mentoring a kid, spending more time with your own kid, or giving away homecooked meals to people in need. And your self-perception will change. Which will fuel you to do more good things. Before you know it, you’ll start thinking about yourself as a person of integrity.
The thing is, whatever you put your energy into you’ll create more of. If you take all the energy you waste on thinking about things that make you sad, depressed, or filled with self-loathing, and invest that energy into something else, what would happen?
Imagine if every time your mind drifts towards thoughts such as: I’m depressed because x, I’m a failure because of y, I’m never goning to make it because of z, I’m shy, I’m aggressive, I’m a loser, I’m fat, I’m too skinny, I’m never going to be able to sort my finances, I’m never going to be able to keep a boyfriend, I’m never going to create the life of my dreams, you started thinking about the things in life that make you happy and how to create more of those. Then you get off your ass and go out there and create them. No, maybe it won’t feel great at first if you’re depressed, but the more energy you put into doing things that fuel your soul, the more you’ll start feeling good things again.
Personally, two years ago, when I was in Athens and saw that my thoughts were going down really unhealthy routes I made a vow to distract myself. I’d do pretty much anything to disrupt my thinking paths. Paint, call people, go for walks, watch a movie, anything… You see, I was working from home. And when you’re prone to depression and you’re feeling like a lot of things in your life are going awfully wrong, you start thinking about those things. And sitting by yourself thinking about those things don’t help. So instead I vowed to work on my social life, work on my visa, work on my finances and stop thinking about the horrible state of my nomadic existence. So if it meant I had to take a break from work that day because I couldn’t stop thinking miserable thoughts.
It worked. My life changed.
People often get stuck thinking “this is who I am.” I am bad with finances, I’m terrible at love, etc. No, that’s who you are creating daily. Most likely, if that what you’re doing, you’re a bully. You’re bullying yourself for what you’ve done, or who you’ve become. Stop. If you did something other than what you’re doing today, you would no longer be that person. So start telling yourself a different story. Invest your energy into a worthwhile cause. Such as becoming the person who overcame all their adversities. A person who overcame all the shit you’re going through.
You are who you make yourself out to be and that person is determined by your thoughts. So decide how you are going to think about yourself from now on; how you’re going to see yourself. Set down principles such as honesty, integrity and kindness. Act from the place of those principles instead of your old self image. Fuck your self image. Fuck the person staring back at you in the mirror. Choose the principles. I’m a person of integrity. I speak to myself with integrity. I act with integrity. Choose who you want to be. Forget about the rest.
In short, fuck the mistakes, the problems and the less glorious sides of your personality. Instead, decide that form now on you act from a place of integrity and focus your thoughts on the good things in your life. Then you decide to go out there and focus your energy on doing things that are good. Things that make you a person of integrity. And if you can’t see outside the life you’ve created — can’t see another life — then get someone else to help you see it. Because you aren’t a broken soul. Souls don’t break. Only our thoughts do.
My life changed when I decided to fuck my own fears and go out there and do things. I kept wondering where the start button to my life was? Why I felt like I wasn’t living? The answer was simple: I was thinking about living my dream life, I wasn’t living it. Because my fears kept me in my comfort zone. Today, today, I live a whole lot more. And every day I challenge myself to live more. To stop thinking, start living.