Two years ago I was depressed. I hated myself. I hated my job. I hated my life. After remembering my company’s health plan included mental/behavioral benefits, I decided to ask for help. I started seeing a therapist and taking antidepression medication. After two years and much work trying to stop feeling bad. I finally figured it out. No, really. Even my therapist agrees. To quote her, “You’re cured!”. (I didn’t think that ever happened.)
The point is, I went the therapist route and I can tell you what I found at the end of my journey. The answer is actually very simple. It’s so basic a child can understand it. In fact, as a child you knew it. You’ve just forgotten. So what’s the answer?
Your whole life is a lie. Perhaps a better word is illusion. Almost every thing you “know” is an illusion. That’s the answer. Let me explain. Every person on earth perceives the world in a unique way. Even your family, even your friends see life differently than you. It might be slightly differently, it might be completely differently. The point is, you don’t know which. The whole world is trying to make you see life the way they see it, not necessarily the way it really is. Your spouse tries to make you feel bad because you didn’t clean out the garage like she expected you to. Your kids try to make you believe you’re an ogre because you make them do their chores. The police try to make you believe you’re a menace to society because you were driving 45 in a 35 mph zone. Your boss wants you to believe that you are incompetent because something out of your control went wrong. Even you, actually, especially you. You tell yourself you can’t seem to do anything right. I’m fat, I’m lazy, I’m ugly, I’m selfish, I’m stupid… Give yourself a break.
The way we see the world is largely made up by the labels we give things. The word “rock” isn’t anything physical at all, it’s just the label English speakers have agreed on to describe that hard thing lying in the dirt. People from different parts of the world call it something entirely different. Eskimos have several different words for snow. I’m sure there are indigenous people of the rainforest who have zero words for snow. Have you ever heard someone using the wrong word for something? They use it confidently as though it really meant what they wanted it to mean. You may even ignore the error knowing full well the message that was trying to be put across. The point is, the words aren’t the message. The words are an attempt to describe an idea. Don’t forget this. Words are only an attempt by someone to take an idea and convey it to another person. They might get it wrong. The point is, you don’t know. You don’t know how another person views life. If you don’t believe me, try it. Try to experience life from someone else’s perspective. You might be able to get clues from reading the person’s face or body language. You might even know the person very well but you can’t truly see life from someone else’s perspective. It’s impossible.
When you know this, you can take control of your life. When someone else calls you stupid, you know that it’s just their version of reality. It has nothing to do with you. When your boss yells at you for making a mistake, you can take comfort in knowing that if you had the foresight he has, you wouldn’t have made the mistake. And now that you have made the mistake, you have the foresight and won’t make the mistake again. You will understand that making mistakes is a positive learning experience and not something to be avoided at all. When you understand that other people’s view of life isn’t necessarily correct, you can even forgive them.
How can you be happy without a therapist? Stop believing the lies and live the best way you know how.