Depressed by the Holidays? Is it that time of the year again when you feel the sky is coming down on you? Don’t be. Try to let the joy of being alive flood your soul with warmth and most of all go and help people who need help.
Recently an older lady sat down in my office, obviously not in a good mood. “Are you okay?” I politely ask, knowing that she probably wouldn’t be in my office in the first place if she was, and waited for her reply. She finally very surily spoke up and said, “I was just with what I thought was a friend of mine, and the first thing she said to me was, ‘You look terrible’, and now I can’t get it out of my mind.” “Or heart.” I kindly supplemented: “You look very good to me,” trying to help repair some of that hurt, but I could tell the damage for the day had already been done.
The next incident happened while I was at a party and an attractive friend of mine sat down on the couch next to the chair I was sitting in, and just said, more in general then specifically to me, “Boy, some people..!” “What’s the matter?” I asked. She explained that she had spent about ten minutes talking to a man she was vaguely acquainted with, and she thought they were just having small talk, when he looked at her disapprovingly and said, “You’re making your life a mess.” “Mmmm,” I responded, “That’s a pretty strong judgement for such a short encounter.” I could tell she was hurt. She remained quiet, I ordered her a drink, told a silly joke, and we both laughed a little bit. But she soon left the party.
And the third incident happened to me. I had taken a piece of electronic equipment to the salesman that had sold it to me with comments that it was not working, and that actually it had never worked correctly from the moment I had bought it. I didn’t hear from him for a month. I finally inquired as to progress, and he stated he had been real busy, and he was ordering parts. I tried to remain patient. Finally I got a call that the equipment had been fixed, according to him, and I picked it up and returned it to its proper spot in my house. The same problem existed, and it was not fixed. In fact, the way it operated, I didn’t think it had even been touched. I returned it to the salesman, politely explaining the problem persisted, and questioned his ability to fix it. “No problem.” he insisted, and I left it again. After a month-and-a-half and hearing no progress reports again, I called him, inquiring as to renewed progress, and he simply stated he could fix it. By this time I was admittedly irritated, and stated, “You are being irresponsible about this!” Shortly after he sent me an email stating he not only was offended by my comments, but that I was being very unprofessional. His comments caused me to pause and question if I was the one who was wrong in how I was responding.
All of these comments are caustic, cutting to the bone, and affecting our psyche emotionally. The tongue can be like a two-edged sword, cutting intensely into the heart and paralyzing our thinking, if we let it. But we cannot allow ourselves to be victims of someone else’s comments, any more than you can allow someone else to work our job for us and make our money and then give it to us.
There are things that we must do ourselves, and one of those things is to build enough self-esteem and emotional independence to handle our own emotional destiny, and that means we must be guarded in our emotional vulnerability. We must be ready to handle our emotions no matter how strongly they have been attacked. Here are some suggestions on how we can do that:
1. IT CAN ONLY BOTHER YOU IF YOU LET IT!
2. SOME PEOPLE ARE CRUEL, AND THEY HAVE THEIR OWN AGENDA.
There are times in the Bible where God said He wished He had never made man. When you study “man”, and even yourself, you can understand how frustrated God may get at times watching how we treat each other. And comments by biting people are abundant. There are many reasons for cruel remarks. For example people hate it if you have a relationship that is working and they don’t. That’s why so often people will make very bad comments against your relationship behind their back, trying to persuade you that you have serious problems as long as you are with that person. The fact is they have no relationship, or a bad one, and they are jealous. Why should you have a good relationship when they have a bad one, or maybe none at all? Same is true with your job, which, if successful, makes someone else feel jealous. I was told once by what I considered a good friend that one place where I worked now was saying very bad things about me. At first I felt myself emotionally responding with great negativity, because I had worked well at that place, done a good job, and could not understand being bad-mouthed. But as I analyzed the situation, I realized first that my good friend was very angry with the place, and wanted me to have the same feelings about the place that she was now feeling. I also understood that no matter what they were saying, I was busy at a new project, and nothing I could do would change that situation anyway. People will talk, and say what they want. But I certainly had both choice and power to determine how I would let it affect me. I chose to ignore it, and within a half hour I had completely lost the bad feeling created by possible comments that may not even have existed. Determining why someone would say something negative will often help you understand and cope with such negativity. A boss has a bad day, a mother is very tired, a sister is very discouraged, a friend feels negated, and all of these feelings have nothing to do with you, but the weakness of the human condition causing him/her to lash out anyway, and you are an easy target or the only available target. And if you let these comments get to you, you become an easier target with each comment, whereas they may not be able to get such response from a boss or a spouse or another friend that they are really mad at. So don’t let it get to you; Choose to emotionally ignore it.
3. IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY A COMMENT, THERE MAY BE SOME TRUTH IN IT.
C’mon, nobody’s perfect (Although sometimes I’m a perfect idiot). We all make mistakes, and some of the negativity that exists around your life is your doing (and undoing). And one of the reasons we have people around us is, to classify the correctness of our own actions. Most successful ventures are accomplished in groups. No man is an island. No matter how well-intentioned an individual might be in trying to help others, his help is more limited by the fewer amount of people he has involved in the cause. And if he is by himself, his help is most limited. In contrast, the more people involved, the greater and more capable the help to the cause. So is the case with understanding ourselves: Being involved with other people helps us to examine ourselves and our personality borders, both good and bad. Our reward is positive affirmation when we do right, and negative affirmation when we do wrong: It teaches us how to live properly with ourselves and others. But it should not have major effect on our emotion, which by choice, we should try to keep in check. A lesson I learned from my encounter with my obstinate repairman: I had to struggle with his comments that I was both offensive and unprofessional. It was not my intention to either offend or be unprofessional.
The more offended we are by a comment, the greater the probability that we have had our ego affronted in that we know that what has been negatively stated is true, and we need to change. But our ego states that we have a right to defend ourselves. Let me state unqualified that you have no need to defend yourself. You are on this earth by your right, your birth right. God has placed you on this earth at this time to live, to enjoy life, and to make this place better than when you first arrived. You have a right to be here and need no defense. Be proud you are here: State your case, proclaim your life, make yourself known. But pay attention to your mistakes, because they are here for lessons. We all make them; we all learn from them; and if we learn, we become better because of them. And in its simple finality, this is nobody’s business but your own.
4. CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN; ACCEPT WHAT YOU CAN’T!
5. ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS: YOUR LIFE DOESN’T LAST LONG ENOUGH FOR A DEPRESSED MOMENT! And if you live near the beach, take a long beach walk. It’ll cure the blues.