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The problem is not the problem…

October 25, 2014

By Hari Tahil

Humans are the only species that can become depressed without an external cause. In some places, up to 20% of the population is diagnosed with depression.

In addition to feeling our emotions, we also have feelings about our emotions; in other words, we can be sad about being sad, or afraid of being angry, for example.

Often our efforts to change our mood by logical thinking are the worst thing we can do. Experiments show that thinking about our feelings and trying to ‘think our way out’ makes things worse.

Repeated thinking about a mood problem (in order to solve it) becomes a habit – and the pattern hardens. Self-analysis can be endless as we can always generate another possibility as to why things are the way they are, so no resolution is reached.

“If I could understand why I feel bad, I will be able to fix it.” But because our thinking is what got us into difficulty in the first place, we cannot think our way out.

Furthermore, trying to help ourselves by ‘doing things that bring enjoyment’ often does not work since we feel unhappy while we are doing them, thereby compounding the unhappiness. And then this provides more ammunition for self-defeating self-analysis.

Resorting to medication does help to ease the burden of thinking, but it is rather severe to partially shut your mind down in order to get by. Living on painkillers and /or anti-depressants is not a long-term answer.

So, what can we do to get out of feeling bad?

1.  Paradoxically, the more you value happiness the harder it is to achieve. Valuing states such as contentment and satisfaction are much more achievable – and then happiness is much more likely to come. Achieving happiness is not like achieving other goals, you cannot ‘work at it’.

2.  Let go of wanting to be happy and instead enjoy things for what they are, not what you think they can bring you. A clear example of this is in relationships. If you enter a relationship with the idea that it will bring you happiness i) you trap the other person in your expectations ii) cannot enjoy what the relationship brings you as you are expecting something else. Absolutely you can ask for what you want, but do not make the other person wrong if s/he cannot deliver.

3.  Do not blame yourself. If you are unhappy about your emotional state (unhappy about being unhappy) it is difficult to tolerate unpleasant situations. Accept that sometimes you will feel a way you do not like, and then over time you will feel fewer and fewer unhappy states.

4.  Beware the media delivered insistence on happiness. Somehow, if we are not constantly full of energy and excitement we are led to believe that something is wrong. This can be fixed by whatever product is being marketed. It is marketing nonsense to expect to be permanently elated.

5.  Recognize that the nature of excitement is that it rises and then falls away. This is evolutionary. If after one meal we stayed in a state of satisfaction, we would soon starve to death. It is all right to feel down sometimes, it is natural.

The problem is not the problem…originally appeared  in the Lifeforces May and June 2014 newsletter and is reposted with permission. The original title is The problem is not the problem...the problem is how you feel about the problem.

Also By Hari:

- Are You Already Enlightened?

- What Prevents Loving?

- Expectations and Reality

 

About the author: Hari Tahil is the co-founder of Lifeforces (www.lifeforces.org) – an integrated holistic therapy practice based in Tokyo since 1994. Lifeforces offers workshops and individual sessions assisting people in improving their physical, mental and emotional health as well as progressing on their personal spiritual path more effectively. Sign up for the Lifeforces newsletter to read more of Hari's writings.
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