So this past weekend Star Wars fans celebrated May the 4th, and as I saw all of the different memes on social media I realized something.
What many of my friends probably don’t know about me is that I sometimes struggle with anxiety and depression. I actually have my whole life. This may seem crazy to you since I’m so good at hiding it, or maybe it’s pretty obvious to others.
Irregardless it’s there, and it’s real. I’m not going to get into why- that’s another post for another time maybe, but recently I’ve had a sort of spiritual awakening. A few wise people have told me before that I can control whether or not I’m happy. As much as I want to believe this, it’s not always that black and white for me.
I imagine it’s not for many people out there. Because depression can be so debilitating that you feel like it’s never going to get better. You feel hopeless and the last thing you want to hear actually is that you could get better by simply deciding to do it.
I even have a bracelet that is engraved with “Choose Joy.” The thing is, when I’m not depressed it makes sense to me that I’m in control of my emotions. It’s quite obvious that I can choose how I respond to things. I can look at the glass as half empty or half full. To see the positive side of a difficult situation and find something good that came out of it. But, there are still times in my life where I find that really hard to do. I forget that I AM in control. It’s sometimes difficult to see that, and I get trapped in the downward spiral of negative thinking.
Someone explained this to me in a really profound way that really helped me understand why this happens. When your brain is so used to negative thinking, the neural pathways that lead to negative thoughts are created more and more. Then when you have a new experience you tend to go down those same paths that lead to a negative response, or The Dark Side. In order to get yourself out of that hole or downward spiral of negative thinking, you have to create new pathways. You have to retrain your brain to see the positive outlook.
One way to do this is to write a gratitude journal. You can start by writing 5 things you’re grateful for each day. I like to spend a few minutes writing down everything I’m grateful for. It may seem hard to do at first, but it actually isn’t once you get started. It’s a great exercise for multiple reasons. It helps to remind you of all the ways that you’ve been blessed. It also helps you to see that things aren’t as bad as you thought they were. More importantly, it creates those neural pathways that lead to joy. It’s pretty hard to feel grateful without feeling at least a little bit good about your life.
So, when I said “May The Force Be With You,” I meant that I hope the next time life throws you a curveball that you have the strength to choose the path that leads to joy and not the one that takes you to the dark side. Maybe remembering that phrase will be enough to help you recall all of the good things going on in your life and all that you have to offer.