One thing I discovered along the path is that the things that trigger depression, anger and anxiety are often NOT what we think…
Step #1: Find the real triggers
We’re often fixated on the most obvious or the LAST step in the chain of events that lead us to deep depression, anger or anxiety, so it’s important to track back and find the FIRST trigger. Because it’s the first trigger that is the key to unlocking the rest!
It does take time, but it’s well worth the effort and patience to get to the place where you notice what it was that first set you off feeling ‘low’. Because then you can do something about it!
Step #2: Decide on a healthy circuit-breaker
Find the best way to take the edge off your reaction to those triggers. For me, the easiest way is just to get outside, go for a walk, get some fresh air and exercise. Particularly getting into nature — away from the noise and grey colours of the city, or at the beach listening to the waves — something like that.
It’s important to only try and find something that makes you feel a LITTLE bit better. If you’re trying to ‘jump’ from an extremely low feeling to an extreme high feeling, then you’ll often be disappointed (or as was the case for an ex-manic-depressive like me, you’ll feel like a crazy giant yo-yo) and that will send you back down the spiral even faster. It’s much easier (and more important) to try and train your mind to take small steps towards something that feels just a little bit better. Then go from there to something that feels just a little better than that … and so on until you’re back “feeling the magic” of life again.
However, if you’re particularly ‘stuck’, you could try something a little crazy (like a weird kind of dance in your lounge room or something) that really shakes it up for long enough for you to get active again (then go for a walk or do something else that feels good in a healthy way).
Spend as much time as you can finding things that make you feel good.
I’m not talking about recreational drugs, pharmies or alcohol though. I’m talking about things that are natural, healthy, and don’t leave you feeling like crap afterwards — that’s just counter-productive. Many drugs (especially alcohol) leave you feeling more depressed afterwards, so try to fill your time with something else if you have the urge to get wasted (like I used to do).
Step #3: Rework your values so you can reduce the triggers
The basis of this idea is that our highest values (what we value the most) drive us in a certain direction to create our own future based on those values. And so, part of that includes the triggers that make us unhappy. It’s not that we’re doing it on purpose necessarily, it’s just that the subconscious ‘programs’ (our value systems) are dictating our actions to a certain extent. So, if we’re aware of what sets us off, then we can change our values to reduce the likelihood of those triggers.
It’s relatively easy to discover some of your highest values by simply taking a look at what you like to do most, and what you happily spend your money on (especially when you don’t have much!). For me, one of my highest values is learning things that help me and others — and I can tell that because I’d be happy to buy a book about something of interest even if it was my last $20… even if that meant I might miss out on dinner that night! Prior to that I just spent all my money on getting wasted — one of my highest values was to simply escape reality as often as I could.
So for me, one way of changing my value system was to start to notice all the good things in my reality (there are always some if you discipline yourself to look with an open mind, trust me!)— my values then began to change because I was acknowledging the good ‘stuff’ and realised it was worth sticking around to see and experience it.
“A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.”
That idea (that there is good in my reality if I look for it) became like a virus that slowly changed my values and rewrote the rules of my experience — changing my behaviour and driving me away from the triggers and towards a much better state of mind. It took me to this place where — I follow my bliss.
Remember: the first triggers are the keys to unravel the rest
It wasn’t hard, but it did take time. However, if I’d known back then what I know now (all the stuff I put in my book), then I’m very sure it would have happened MUCH quicker.
So go! Get Started! Use your circuit-breakers to give you some space to create new values which move you away from those first triggers and watch the rest start to unravel!
BTW, for more information on this topic, please see this newer post.