By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith shares a few suggestions on how to help lift yourself out of dark times.
Tribune News Service
When you are feeling personal pain, or are in an uncomfortable emotional place, it can be easy to get stuck.
All you may think about is taking a nap, taking the next dose of medication, or even self-medicating. What you may fail to do in those critical moments is change them. And doing this is not beyond your ability. I know because I have been there and done it.
When someone you love leaves or dies, it can cause pain and even emotional trauma. If you’ve been in a bad accident, even though your body has healed, you may become frightened when you find yourself driving in similar situations. Similarly, when you reach for the brass ring and continually miss, you can become emotionally wounded and be triggered more easily. You may find yourself being much more cautious and perhaps putting yourself out there less.
The common thinking is to consult with a doctor, take some prescribed medication, go to therapy, and understand that eventually you will be lifted out of this pit.
The key word here is “eventually.” I’ve seen it work a thousand times, but therapy does take a while, the meds don’t work for everybody, and if you’re having a bad day triggered by memories of the past and fears of the future, you want some help now.
If you don’t take control of your emotional state by taking some action (and naps do not count), you could be in this same place for a very long time. That thought alone is very scary and depressing.
Many people who get stuck find it difficult to do anything, and that’s okay as long as it’s only for a day or two.
Here’s why. You can get used to being immobile and isolating yourself, even if you have a family living with you.
You need to set up a plan to get moving, because by doing something, you will feel better than if you were just hanging out trying not to feel the pain you are feeling.
I know that lying in bed doesn’t work for me. So when I wake up, I simply get out of bed, feed the cat, let the dog out, and make some tea for my wife.
All of this gives me the opportunity to settle into the reality of the new day and enjoy the good life that I have.
My issue is that I can easily forget to do that part, and maybe this happens to you too.
It all circles back to knowing that you have the ability to put yourself in another place, you just have to use it.
When you find yourself feeling like you are headed for the darkness, bring in some light by stepping outside, making your bed, eating something wonderful, taking your daily walk, or reading a good book.
It does help to have reminders to take care of yourself, and your other half can assist with this. You can simply ask, “Hey, would you help me be better?” If you don’t have someone nearby, get a friend to send you a morning text reminding you to do something good for yourself today.
Being good to yourself may not come easily, and we could probably all do a little more to help ourselves in that department.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)