Originally Written December 9, 2019
Dark thoughts have hit all of us. Some moments of despair are easier to walk through than others. There’s a spectrum of these thoughts, being that some feel more intense than others. It can feel as if a murky cloud has blinded your vision, making it seem impossible that you’ll ever see a sliver of light again. What causes this cloud? The thoughts? The blindness from the light? There’s probably a multitude of answers to these questions, and obviously, I don’t have all of them. At this moment I’m writing this, I believe that this cloud is made up of ideas: Ideas we’ve soaked up like a sponge from the earliest age, as well as voices we’ve heard over our heads since we were kids. All the rules, limits, fears, and restrictions we have been told or overheard make up the molecules of this “cloud”.
This fog you may be lost in isn’t the end or any reflection of who you are. The biggest lie we can ever believe is that the thoughts surfacing in our mind are who we are. Instead, it is how we respond to the thoughts that make up our character. Attaching our identity to these dark thoughts is what will trip us up. (Trust me, I’ve been there.) What has gotten me through the darkness, and is still my guiding beacon whenever the fog rolls in again, is releasing the attachment. Here is what I learned five years ago when I knew something had to change.
Firstly, this dark cloud isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is a gift. Sounds strangely annoying, but bear with me. This murkiness lurking around you isn’t the problem, it’s a signal that something in your life is off. It is a sign that some aspect in your life, whether tangible or intangible, has run the course and needs to be released in order for you to continue on. There is something that is weighing you down, which is why any glimpse of hope or the idea of happiness may seem exhausting to you. That’s the thing about depression, sometimes it can feel tiring to even think about being happier. So before you continue reading, I want you to thank this cloud for telling you something must be set free.
Secondly, knowing that you are programmed to survive can help you learn to let go of your attachment to these thoughts. As humans, we are built for survival. Think back to the prehistoric times. Our entire lives were built around surviving, and to this day, still are. Businesses, schools, hospitals, basically everything is built around the desire and concept of surviving. Even religions as well. If you think about it, we desire and are searching for the certainty of a form of permanence. With this knowledge, it helps you understand logically, that those thoughts about giving up are not you.
Strangely, when those dark thoughts do arise, they may seem more authentic and real compared to your memories of when you felt joy. Being in this state can make you feel like, “this is the real me” and that you see life clearly now. Personally, in previous times I’ve felt like those dark thoughts were more raw, real, and authentic compared to the moments I’ve felt inspired by life. Maybe you’ve experienced that too. The reason for this is because there are authentic emotions that tag along with these thoughts. It’s not the thoughts you experience are real, but rather the feelings that arise whenever these thoughts do. Your body and mind need to feel these feelings, emotionally and physically. Those thoughts are carrying them up to you. They are trying to bring to the surface those feelings you need to feel in order to realize what you must release. Feel every feeling that each thought brings up, find where in your body you feel it, and breathe into it. Once we give authentic attention to these feelings, they will dissipate, along with the cloud.
Lastly, we must understand our identity. The most important fact to know is that you are not your thoughts. Therefore, you are not a depressed person. Sure, you may be a person experiencing depression and/or melancholy thoughts, but that’s not who you are. You are grieving, not a griever. Being a griever is permanent (and nothing is permanent), grieving is a natural process we all go through on various levels. It took years of practice but when a negative thought(s) arise, I’ve learned to listen to it, and then reply “thank you, but that’s not me, that’s not who I am.”
We must accept these thoughts that are surfacing along with unwanted emotions. The more resistance we have to them, the stronger they will get. When we have resistance to these thoughts, the battle is tiring, leaving us exhausted at the end and wanting to give up. When we let those thoughts feel heard as well as the feelings, they will pass through. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the thought process of: “I should be happy.” “When will I get out of this period of sorrow?” Yet, the more we focus on what we think we are supposed to feel, the longer they will linger until we acknowledge them. Accept the feelings and thoughts, but it doesn’t mean it’s who we are or that we must act upon them.
The solution to this identity struggle and the murky cloud is: To accept and release. Because-It’s not about finding yourself or searching for a way out of the darkness, but rather to just, release. Release the rules you have carried with you since you were a child. Release the voices that have told you that you must do x, y, and z in order to be worthy and loved. Release the opinions and perspectives that others have placed on you.It’s time to let them go. That’s when you will find yourself.
For years, you have been buried under the “shoulds” of life, lines, fears, and phrases of others. Those dark thoughts and feelings are just warning signs that it’s time to unearth yourself from the burden of other’s you’ve accumulated unconsciously. You have been there all along, and that’s why you may be experiencing depression. It’s a voice, a feeling, a cloud that sweeps in when it’s time to let go of expectations you and others have of yourself. Give those feelings and thoughts attention. Accept them until they get tired, and then let them leave.
Slowly you’ll uncover what brings you joy, and what inspires you. You’ll find the message you are meant to bring to the world, once you let go of everyone’s limits. I can promise you, from experience, that there are going to be exhilarating events in your life that are not comprehensible right now. You’re going to look back at this present moment and thank yourself for staying and being gentle with yourself in the midst of this pivotal point in your life.
Please call 1-800-273-8255 for help in a mental health emergency. Or reach out immediately to someone if you are in a state of crisis.
Peace and Love,