Cultivating an Attitude of Love (Loving with Depression Series)

by - February 26, 2018


Welcome to the last post in my Loving with Depression series! We’ve talked about loving yourself, loving your friends and family, and loving people who we don’t know or barely know. 

So, what could be left? 

Today I’m talking about cultivating an attitude of love. This one might be the hardest of all. We can muster up the willpower to show love for others every once in a while, but to develop an overarching attitude of loving towards everyone and everything? That requires a paradigm shift. 

When you’re depressed, your mind likes to focus on all the bad things going on. It zeroes in on the negative of every situation. If you make a mistake, depression tells you that you are worthless, a failure, etc. It tells you that people don’t like you, they despise, they think you’re worthless. This mindset can take over and ruin any chance of loving or feeling loved. 

So, how do we change this mindset? 

Gratitude. 

When we express gratitude, we set aside the negative things and focus on the good, the beautiful, the happy, the wonderful. In order to keep the demeaning voice of depression from banishing all love from our lives, we need to make this shift. 

"But, you're depressed,” your brain will try to tell you. “This is just how you work. This is just how your life is.” 

If you ever want to love or feel loved, you need to tell that jerk to shut up. Block him out and search for something to be thankful for. 

Maybe you don’t think that there is anything to be grateful for. Maybe depression prevents you holding down a job or finishing school, and you feel like your life has no direction. Maybe depression makes you physically sick, or you have a physical illness that makes you feel depressed. 

In cases like this, it doesn’t look like you have something to be grateful for, but I promise you there is. It doesn’t have to be something grand. Sometimes you can just be grateful that you got out of bed today. Or that you hit green lights and were only five minutes late to class instead of ten. Or that someone smiled at you today. Or that you were able to smile at someone today. Or that you managed to write a post for your blog (even if it was late). 

Start small. Pull out a pen and paper, or a notebook, or a journal or open up a word document on your computer. Write down two things you’re grateful for. These can be literal things (like a working car or a dishwasher), something that happened (the green lights), or something that someone else did (smiled at you). Then write down two things that you were able to do that day. Maybe you didn’t do them very well. Maybe you feel pathetic for writing down that you were able to get out of bed and brush your teeth today. Don’t. People who aren’t depressed often have trouble getting up in the morning. You’ve got a jerk who likes to sit on your head and say mean things to you all day. You deserve a medal for getting up today. 

Make sure to do this regularly. Set a reminder on your phone every night to remind you to express gratitude. (Bonus points if you share with other people your gratitude for them!) Consistency is key to developing an overall attitude of gratitude and love and not just the occasional attempt at battling the negativity in your mind. Fighting depression is a battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting every single day. 

Regular expressions of gratitude will open your mind and heart up to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, as Samwise Gamgee told us, “There’s some good in this world Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” 

Stay amiable, 
Amy

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