Why It’s 100% OKAY!

I wish I had heard these words back when I suffered with depression. 😞

Yes, for nearly a decade I suffered with depression. It’s why I’m so passionate about mental health today! 👊

It’s because I’ve been there that I want to show others there’s ways out of it.

And the 1st thing I’d say to someone who is depressed is these words…

❤️ IT’S OKAY…TO NOT BE OKAY. ❤️

“But Donald, don’t enable people to keep being depressed! We want to get them OUT of depression, not stay in it! Don’t be stupid!” 🤪

Ah, but I agree with you here! I don’t want people to be in negative emotional states any longer than they need to be! We’re on the same page here! 😊

Where we differ is in the solution! ↔️

I won’t allow them to shame their emotions. If there’s anything I’ve learned in overcoming depression, it wasn’t by trying to push and force my emotions out of my mind. In fact, I see this method causing much more harm than good. 😱

Hear me out! As a regular meditator, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned with this practice is that our emotions, like our thoughts, are like the weather; they are temporary. 💨

But the more we resist them when they do appear (our thoughts, our emotions) and we demonize them, the longer they tend to remain. 😲

If I told you right now NOT think of a pink elephant, what just came into your mind? And if I kept telling you to stop thinking about the pink elephant, what thought remains? 🐘

🌟 Your constant focus on what you don’t want is why it’s still here. It has the OPPOSITE effect from what you intend. 🌟

📌 Accept WHATEVER you’re feeling. Place no positive or negative label on your present emotions.

📌 See if there’s any message your emotions are trying to give you. For depression: the message may be you’re focusing too much on negative thoughts. For anxiety: the message may be you’re doing too many things at once.

📌 Once your emotions have no further use, start taking actions in behavior to shift your feelings. It’s different from demonizing and suppressing your feelings. Your behavior will influence the change. Remember: FEELINGS FOLLOW BEHAVIOR!

Hope this helps! ❤️

The HOLE (Short Story)

🕳️ THE HOLE 🕳️

There once was a man who fell into a dirt hole in the ground. 🕳️

He didn’t know how it happened or why it happened. All he knew was he was now in a hole. Freaking out, the man attempted to scramble back up to the hole’s surface. 😨

He grasped at the sides of the dirt hole around him, frantically trying to grab anything he could to pull him upwards. ✊

His heart pounding, his hands continued to slide in the dirt. His pulling at the walls not only wasn’t working, it only served to enlarge the hole he was already in! 🕳️

Eventually the cold hard truth started to set in with the man. He may not ever be able to get out of this hole. 😨

Starting to feel helpless, the man eventually released his hands from the dirt walls and let out a sigh of resignation. He surrendered. 😞

💭 “There’s no way out…I’m stuck here…and that’s the truth.” 💭

As hard as it was for him to accept it, he soon embraced the idea this hole was definitively going to his new home… 🏠

A period of time passed. The man started to find ways to occupy his mind. He played Tic-Tac-Toe in the dirt. He made drawings with his finger on the walls of the hole. He even started to take a liking to eating the dirt as a means of food! 😲

💭 “You know what? This place is not as bad as I thought? It’s quiet, it’s calm. As weird as it sounds…I’m really starting to like it here!” 💭

Despite not knowing how or why he found himself in the hole in the first place, it didn’t matter anymore. He now felt comfortable there. 🛌

💭 “It is what it is. I can’t do anything about it.” 💭

But it was only as soon as he had started to find peace living in the hole did one day he hear footsteps at the surface. 👣

At the surface, a passerby peered into the hole and saw the man. Looking confused, the passerby shouted down to the man.

🗣️ “YOU’RE IN A HOLE! GET OUT OF THE HOLE!” 🗣️

The man, who was sitting down in a fetal position, slowly looked up at the passerby. All he could think to do was to scoff at the man who was only stating the obvious.

“YOU THINK I HAVEN’T TRIED?!” He shouted back to the passerby, slightly irritated. 😠

The passerby again looked confused. He shouted down again.

🗣️ “LISTEN TO ME: YOU CAN GET OUT OF THE HOLE!” 🗣️

But the man was not having any of it! He was started to feel really angry at this passerby. With a swish of his hand at the passerby, he scoffed. 😠

🗣️ “NO SERIOUSLY!” the passerby shouted once more. “I CAN TELL YOU HOW TO GET OUT!” 🗣️

At this point the man had had enough! Really angry, he shouted up to the passerby: “LEAVE ME ALONE!” 😡

The passerby’s face had turned from confusion to match the man’s angry face.

🤬 “FINE! ROT IN THERE ALL YOU WANT! BUT YOU’RE CHOOSING TO BE IN THAT HOLE!” 🤬

And the passerby stormed off. 👣

The man was shocked at the passerby’s words. “CHOOSING?!” He sprang to his feet and screamed towards the heavens.

🤬 “YOU DON’T KNOW ME!

YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S IT’S LIKE BEING ME!

YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING DOWN HERE ALL THE TIME!

HOW DARE YOU SAY I ‘CHOOSE’ TO BE HERE!

I CAN’T GET OUT OF THIS GODDAMN HOLE, AND THAT’S A GODDAMN FACT!

DON’T YOU DARE SAY I ‘CAN’!” 🤬

And there was a moment of silence. Not a sound came from the surface. The man’s body, stiff as a nail, started to tremble. He had been holding his breath the whole time. He finally let out another sigh of resignation, and he collapsed to the ground in tears. 😭

The feelings of helplessness had returned. He instantly started to feel remorse for the things he had just said. 😟

💭 “Because of me, the passerby is gone now! It’s all my fault!” 💭

While a part of him was just getting comfortable accepting his predicament, a small part of him still had a desire to get out of the hole. And the passerby had sparked the emotions in him. 💥

But unfortunately, his anger had camouflaged his cry for help. 😢

As he continued to cry, he started to hear footsteps again. Quickly wiping away his tears out of shame, he saw the passerby had returned. 👤

The passerby squatted down to his knees and the tone in his voice had drastically shifted. In a much softer tone:

💬 “Who told you you couldn’t get out of this hole?” 💬

The man didn’t know how to respond. He was honestly confused, because as a matter of fact no one had told him this. 🤔

He had told this to himself. 👤

The passerby grabbed the edge of the hole and tossed his body feet-first into it. 💨

The man was shocked! It was a tight fit, but both he and the passerby managed to share enough space at the bottom of the hole to fit.

💬 “So, now we’re in this hole together,” the passerby continued in his soft tone “and if you want to get out I’ll SHOW you how.” 💬

The man looked down. He felt ashamed. Again, his mind was conflicted between the place he had just started to make home and his desire to escape. ↔️

The man replied faintly: “You said I was ‘choosing’ to be down here.” 😞

The passerby leaned back against the dirt wall and let out a deep sigh. “I was frustrated. For some reason, I just assumed you knew there were ways of getting out of here. But I see now you actually don’t, and I’m sorry.” 👐

The man let out a deep sigh of his own as the passerby leaned in towards him.

💬 “Listen, I’ve fallen in MANY holes before, some even deeper than this one! And if there’s one thing I continue to remember with every single hole, it’s that there’s always ways out of them.

I’m not going to TELL you how like I said before. Because since we’re both down in this hole now, I get to SHOW you how!” 💬 And the passerby started to smile.

The man tilted his head up at the passerby and managed to crack a smile. He couldn’t understand why, but suddenly he felt more open to the passerby’s assistance than he did moments before. Perhaps it was also due to the fact the passerby was now in the same hole as him. 😅

💭 He understands I’m not crazy. 💭

And thus the passerby started to teach the man the tools to getting out of the hole. 👨‍🏫

At first, the tools the passerby taught to the man sounded like nothing more than common sense! At many points, the man couldn’t help but start to laugh at his dumbfoundedness!

💭 That’s so simple! Why didn’t I think of that before?! 💭

He soon realized that contrary to popular belief, common sense isn’t common! And his solution for getting out of the hole in the first place was not very practical. 💯

But with these tools no longer labeled as “common sense” but as “essentials” in his mind, the man did find his way out of the hole and back onto the surface! 😄

As he took his first steps on the surface, he was suddenly reminded of the amazing life he lived before falling into the hole. He had been in the hole for so long, with nothing to remind him of his past life, he had forgotten how great it felt to embrace life. ☀️

The man turned to the passerby. “I cannot thank you enough,” he said on the verge of tears. ❤️

The passerby smiled. “I appreciate it, but remember: I gave you the tools. You were the one who decided to use them.” 😃

The man smiled. And the passerby leaned in for one final word.

“And there’s still many more people in holes that need to be helped!” 🙌

#MentalHealthAwareness

How Emotions Are HABITS!

“I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE OFFENDED!” 🤬

There’s no question: we all get upset at times in our lives. Sad. Frustrated. Angry. Fearful. Perhaps even hateful.

In fact, these negative emotions are some of the easiest for human beings to experience. It’s hard-wired in us. 😲

It’s known as Negativity Bias, just 1 of many cognitive biases which affect our ability as human beings to see the world in an objective manner. 😱

Instead of seeing the world as it is, as a matter of fact, we usually see it through many lens filters of cognitive biases. 🌎

So it makes practical sense to me when I see people get passionate about experiencing negative emotions. Our brains which evolved to help us survive needed those emotions in times of defense and protection. 👍

But there are times when negative emotions become excessive, one where instead of being useful it becomes an emotional home for people. 😱

“Wait! You can’t be saying that people LIKE to feel upset! That’s ridiculous!” 🗣️

I’d love for you to try my jacket on for a moment. 🧥

Think of your emotions as similar to habits. We all have habits, some good and some bad. But wait, why do we keep bad habits? Why do we hold onto bad habits which don’t benefit us yet can cause us long-term harm? 🤔

🌟 Because it’s far more comfortable keeping bad habits than it is creating new ones to replace them. 🌟

Or when we attempt to build new habits, we stop trying and we fall back into old habits. Like the saying: “Old habits die hard!” 😅

So like habits, what if our emotions work in a similar way? What if we keep experiencing emotional states of mind not because they necessarily help us but because they’re the places we’re most comfortable, an emotional home we’re most familiar with, a place where we have certainty over our lives? 🏠

It sounds self-defeating, and like our bad habits it is too! 🙁

One has the “right” to be offended. One has the “right” to feel angry. One has the “right” to judge, criticize, condemn, and generalize people and things all they want. You will get a temporary feeling of power. 💪

But it never lasts. The question: does it serve a person to feel negative emotions? Or are they perhaps bad habits needing to be broken? 🤔

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Why a Life of MEANING and PURPOSE is Worth Living!

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” – Viktor Frankl 🗣
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A life filled with purpose and meaning is what drives a person forward. Without either of these, why does a person desire to live? Why does a person then wake up every single morning: to live…or to maintain? 🤷‍♂️
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I believe these are very important questions we need to ask in a world where mental health continues to be a grave concern. 👍
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⚠️ According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of mental illness with an estimate 300 MILLION people affected. ⚠️
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A few years ago I would’ve also been a part of that list. But I’m not anymore. 😲
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“So what changed, Donald?” 💬
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I’ll tell you it definitely wasn’t a quick-fix. As much as I want to tell you that, I’d be lying. We all want a quick-fix, the path of least resistance, the least amount of work for the biggest reward. But it’s really not the case.
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🌟 Quick fixes are not how sustainable changes in our lives work. 🌟
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Here are key factors which helped me in changing my life:
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📍 I started doing things I was deeply passionate about, even if it wasn’t “realistic”.
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📍 I started choosing to see every problem I had as a “gift” I could learn from.
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📍 I started challenging my bad habits. I quit drinking soda. I started eating more vegetables and whole foods. I started exercising more. In turn I eventually lost over 80 pounds.
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📍 I studied philosophy and saw there’s MANY ways to look at our lives and how we can live them.
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📍 I started meditating daily and becoming aware how my thoughts were greatly controlling my life.
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📍 I made a habit to always be grateful for something in my life, no matter how little.
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It wasn’t a magic pill that “treated” my depression; it was making lifestyle changes that were meaningful and purposeful. ❤️
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It wasn’t seeing depression as a biological defect that helped me alleviate its symptoms; it was seeing my emotions as messengers telling me something had to change in my life. 📬
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The status quo isn’t working; otherwise we wouldn’t have so many people feeling this way. This calls for additional solutions to solve our mental health crisis.
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🌟 I’m not saying to get rid of the current menu, but rather we expand on the available options people can become aware of and choose from. 🌟
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I’m very grateful I’ve had the opportunity to step outside the norm and go in a different direction the past year. I feel so much happier than I ever use to. 😊
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It’s not to say everything is perfect, but that life is much more fulfilling these days. And that’s a life worth living! 👌
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I will also never forget to help others do the same! It gives my life even more meaning! Eudaimonia! ❤️#TranscendLabels

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