When you are trying to beat depression and anxiety, both the worrying and the numbness often share a common source; a helpless feeling that you can not accept, and you'll never be able to. Whether you are so anxious you can not breathe, or are lost in a cloud of darkness, there is one simple thing that can give you a lifeline. Smashed down as it may be, that one thing is your own ability to love.
I am not trying to make light of how serious both anxiety and depression can be by giving you a simplistic answer. But research already attests that our attitudes impact our emotions, and love sort of tops the positive attitudes list. It's not a new idea.
It was 50 years ago today …
Many of us in the US are celebrating an anniversary this month, fifty years since the Beatles made their American television debut. Of course, they were already on their way to changing rock and roll history when they arrived here, but their appearance certainly changed the lives of thousands of teenagers, including mine.
Few of us may ever have that sort of culture changing power, but influence like that does not happen by chance. That kind of legacy is for people with something important to say.
“All you need is love.”
Okay, on the surface it sounds a little pie-in-the-sky. After all, love is not going to pay the bills, find you a job, calm your stress, or stop the throbbing in your head. Or will it?
If we think of love not as a romantic fantasy, but as the underlying basis of one's life, it could change everything we do, as well as the anxiety or depression we struggle to overcome.
First, love yourself. Realize your worth. Embrace your humanity. Give yourself the nurture you need, and care for yourself with love. Forgive your foibles, and congratulate yourself for your successes, no matter how insignificant you think they are.
If we are depressed because we feel worthless, then even the tiniest difference we can make by looking at ourselves with love, is an opening we can use to break free.
Second, love other people, warts and all. Would people stress you out so much if they were not such a pain? Well they are. We all are. And we need to cut each other some slack. Surprise, you can control how aggravating people are by looking at them with love.
Quantum physics says the act of observing sub-atomic particles changes how the particles behave. It is not a stretch to realize that forgiving other people, and treating them with love actually changes their behavior, too. Maybe it just changes how we feel. Either way it means less anxiety and relationship stress.
Open yourself up to supportive relationships. People may care about you more than you know. You have a better chance to beat depression with a little help from your friends.
Third, love the little things in life. Simple pleasures are all around us. Sights, sounds, tastes, silly pet tricks, little mishaps that make you laugh, are all good reasons to cherish small moments in ordinary days.
If you jump through your memories, which ones make you smile? Some earth shaking event? Chances are your favorite memories are of shared moments with people that you cared about. Look around you and acknowledge that these are the moments and people that you will recall in years to come, and enjoy the time you have now.
Fourth, love something vast and wonderful. It could be a vista, an image of the cosmos, or whatever you define as God. Somewhere there is something beyond yourself that has the ability to knock your socks off. Something so grand and overpowering that your anxiety and depression disappear in its immensity. Something that lets you know you are not alone. When you find it, cherish it, rest in it, and let it bring you joy.
Fifth, love that you're alive. As bad as you think today is, as hopeless or helpless as you sometimes feel, change can always happen. You can still break through the darkness. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to grow calmer with every breath.
When you decide to make love the driving force in your life, it becomes easier to make the behavior changes you need to beat depression and anxiety. You can exercise, meditate, eat good food, and reach out for help if you need it. Every step will take you further when it is grounded in positive energy.
That's why The Beatles were right. To find your positive energy, “love IS all you need.”
All You Need Is Love, music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Interested in pop music history? Try: SHOUT! The Beatles in Their Generation, by Philip Norman.
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