Is Depression Self-Created?

Last week, we asked people on our facebook page what topic they would like to us to do a blog or talk on. We’re going to be answering one of their questions today and look forward to answering more as we go forward.

If you have a question you’d like to ask Kyle or a topic you’d like to see him do a blog or talk on, please send us a message on Facebook

The question we are going to answer today is: “Is depression self-created?

You can listen to the recorded version here, or scroll down to read the blog

This is such a good question. I think it’s so poignant for the times.

There are multi-levels to that question. I think that it has become really clear lately that there is a disease process called “depression” that is actually a condition. It’s been largely overlooked and there’s a lot of shame and repression around it.

In general, we tend to project mental health conditions on people as personal, whereas physical health conditions we project as just accidental. So, we tend to have a lot more sympathy and understanding and compassion for people with physical illness more than mental illness. And, I would say that depression is clearly at this point a medical condition. And, one where there are people who are in a state of chronic or cyclical depression, where there is a medical condition.

There are really beautiful examples of this out there. There’s a Netflix show called 3 Mics with Neal Brennan. He does a really beautiful talk about his experience with it. Wil Wheaton from the Star Trek series has written about his experience with it. And, I really think it’s time for us to look at it differently.

Now, if we aren’t talking about clinical depression or depression as an illness, there is another level. We all go through different times of depression and depression is part of the natural cycle. We should all be going through a series of depression (nonmedical depressions). Depression is really our time of pulling back, of getting grounding in oneself, of getting perspective, and even a time for gaining energy. And, if we don’t have the judgment around depression, we can actually go down into that spot and find rest and recovery. If we can be patient in that spot, then we can know it will come around again, that we’ll come onto the upswing and we’ll find our next inspiration.

In fact, as a culture, we way overdo it. Depression in a cyclical manner can also be a reflection of our drive. We get in that downswing when we when we overpressure, overtax, or overdrive ourselves.

It’s great to take the top and the bottom off the swing and become more even. But, if you do find yourself in a down place, notice it’s a time to self-reflect. People rarely call me and ask for personal growth when they are in the upswing (although they should). When they are in the downswing, they do call, and connect, and are ready to grow. So, we really want to honor those downswings and honor those times of self-reflection. We want to honor them as moments where we can expand our vision, grow ourselves, excavate ideas, beliefs, and thoughts, and any emotional pain we are carrying. So that on the next upswing, we don’t have to carry those along with us. Let’s honor the depression and use it as a time for rest and renewal.

3 States

It has been so helpful to recognize I have a choice every moment.

Not about what is happening right now, but about my relationship to it.

My 3 choices are:

  1. Resistance
  2. Acceptance
  3. Approval

I choose.

If I resist, I create struggle in me and around me.

In acceptance, I become neutral, but neutrality is a form of death.

In approval, I decide to lean in to what is happening.

I get behind it.

This is when the magic happens.

 

Approval is a powerful life practice available to you every moment.

I use the word practice to indicate it takes practice and you are never done getting better at it.

Try it right now, take something you are resisting either inside or outside you and get in approval of it, get behind it, get into it and see what happens.  Let me know.

The Key to Self-Acceptance

The more you uncover yourself, the more you can accept who you are. The act of uncovering yourself is like going through darkness or a shadowy area. On the other side of uncovering who you are is the opportunity to discover approval for yourself. As you identify the parts of yourself that you do not accept, you can find a way of gaining approval for them.

This is a part of what we do at the Freedom Experience; we look into all of those things that we have repressed and judged about ourselves, and we talk about how they are necessary parts of a whole human. For example, judging that we are lazy or slothful is also the part of us that allows us to rest. How much do you honor the part of you that needs rest and nurturing?  Or we may discover that the part of us that gets angry is also the part of ourselves that wants to take care of us.

Love,
Kyle

Loving Myself To Sleep

A crucial part of discovering what it means to love ourselves is finding our capacity to step into our larger self, what I am calling going to a higher level or altitude of consciousness. To do this, we must step out of our emotional or mental self, and step into the part of ourselves that can love and embrace all of our flaws or struggles.

To master this capacity, it is helpful to find ways to practice regularly. There are two things that I have been doing that help me step into my larger self.

The first exercise is to practice loving. I do this by picking an object, a beautiful rock or a flower, or anything else that speaks to me. I intentionally choose something with slight imperfections. I start appreciating it, begin pouring my loving into it, recognizing the beauty and preciousness of it. This is the practice of developing your capacity for love. By recognizing that you can intentionally generate your loving and appreciation for something outside of yourself, you are developing that capacity within yourself. As you get better at it, you can start extending it to things around you all the time. Everything that exists is worthy of love.

The second activity for deepening the capacity for self-love can be done at any time of the day, though I do it at night. As I prepare for bed and get ready to sleep, I step into my larger self and hold myself in the same consciousness that I would hold a stone from the beach. I think about the person who has gone through the day, about what happened mentally, physically, and emotionally and then I just hold him in deep acceptance. In the same way that I can love a stone from the beach or a flower from the garden, I can appreciate this imperfect person in all his aspects. And thus, recognize the beauty of self by going beyond the judgmental part of myself.

This is a different process from what we do in the Mountain or the Freedom Experience. This is not so much about getting better, but more about practicing having unconditional love for ourselves. In a way, it is a step towards reaching the Want-for-Us level. While it is very hard to do if in a lot of mental pain, it is separate from letting go and self-acceptance. In fact, it is of a higher order. Practicing this type of self-loving will support the experience of altitude throughout your life.

To learn more about altitude listen to my podcast: Life at Altitude.