Depression Feels Like it Surrounds You – Some NLP Techniques Might Help

stormy sky

Depression can feel like there are dark storm clouds all around you. They feel like they are closing in and there is no way out. Depression can feel like it is coming in at you from the outside, although we know the feelings are being generated from the inside. 

storm drving 2

There is no way to see the sun or any hope beyond the heavy feeling of the depression piling on top of us. This depression can feel like an ominous being that had captured us in its clutches. It can feel like the clouds of darkness are choosing to surround us rather than the people around us. 

storm writing prompt

It can feel like the depression is settling upon our home, our bedroom, our brain, our heart or around our body. It is perceived differently by different people. But there is often this feeling of the depression being around us, on top of us and putting weight in us that makes it feel hard to move our bodies in space. 

One idea that sometimes can help is to take ourselves out of the depression clouds by changing our point of view and perception just for a few minutes.

We can detach from this picture we have of the depression surrounding us by taking ourselves out of the “first person” of our story. 

We all tell our own story every day. There is a kind of narrative playing in our brains. Each thing that happens in our narrative had a meaning to us. 

There is a type of NLP technique that we can try which is to make ourselves the observer of this narrative.

Picture that you are watching the story from the outside. You are watching it as you would watch a tv show or a YouTube Video. For this few minutes you are in within the clutches of the depression all around you, but you are without ….you are outside of the entire story all together. 

Emotionally Detach From What You are Watching So You Can Observe

In order to detach from feeling too much negative emotion while watching yourself in the story, you can control the volume, the vividness of color and the distance this “tv” or “Movie screen” you are watching this on. Reduce the volume, make the colors different, and push the screen away from you until you feel more detached like an audience, rather than the main character in the story.

From this outside, detached point of view we can see what meaning we assign to different things is our story. Let’s say that in our story we lost our job or were yelled at by the boss. As an outside observer of the story we can see what meaning the main character (that is us) is attaching to these events of losing our job or being yelled at.

Look at the main character as if you are not emotionally attached to them. You are seeing yourself as a neutral character in a story. But observe how this character assigns meaning to these events. 

What meaning did she assign to losing her job? Does she feel this means she is worthless? Does she feel this means she will continue to become more financially devastated and that it was her destiny to become financially devastated?

What meaning does he assign to getting yelled at by the boss? Does he feel he is inadequate? Does he feel that he was yelled at because he cannot fit in with other people?

Once we see what meaning we are assigning to events in out story, we can question these meanings. Did we assign meanings to these events that are accurate? Are we sure these meanings can be proven? Can they be disproven? Has there ever been any evidence in this main character that they are not useless?

Has anyone ever told this main character that they were useful, wanted or skillful and intelligent? Is there any way we can counter the negative meaning the main character in our story has assigned to different things?

This practice of coming outside of our narrative can help our brains to get out of certain learned behaviors. Our brains will go into the usual behaviors that they are used to but these are not always helpful behaviors for our brains to do. These are learned behaviors and are sometimes developed out of post traumatic stress. 

Our brains are designed to scan for danger and to take us away from what the brain perceives as danger. When that danger seems to be all around us, our brain has  no where to take us but deep inside of ourselves. There is no where else to run away to.

So this practice of mentally removing ourselves from the “first person” in the story and taking the point of view of the third person, can make us an audience to our own brains and what our brains have been wired to do. It is good to ask questions about what thoughts our brains are thinking.

Sometimes thoughts are reactive, which means they are reactions to triggers.

These are learned brain behaviors almost like an addiction. The brain has been used to thinking certain kinds of thoughts in response to certain kinds of triggers and feelings of threat.

Practice this technique for five to ten minutes, a few times a day. Ask questions about the meaning that you attach to events and other things in your life. If you are living below your desired living level..what meaning does your brain assign to this? Then ask if it is necessarily true? Why is it true? What other meaning might you be able to choose to assign to this?

This practice is cognitive work. This cognitive work can take you out of the feelings of depression while you are doing it. The brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time with a lot of power.

There is a primary focus of the brain. If your primary focus is on this cognitive kind of practice then some of the fuel will be drawn away from the emotional overload that the brain was caught up in.

The more we question our own thoughts, the more we can seek truth. The truth about ourselves is that we have innate value. Other people do not assign value to us. They have no control over our actual value. 

Our actions and accomplishments do not determine our innate value either. So question the meaning you have been used to assigning to things in your life. Things that happen do not take away the fact that you are valuable and special because of the person that you are.

Blessings,

Annie<3

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