Depression has often been compared to sadness as “with sadness you cannot see a way for things to be worse, while similar in feeling, with depression you see no way for things to ever be better.” In the end, whether it is simply “a rut” that you need bouncing out of or full blown depression, the way out comes by seeing things differently and realizing that you can often actually control how you think about things. It is with the acceptance that many things in life are a choice, and that we have made choices and continue to that result in our current situations.
Acceptance that it is our own choices that are most responsible for our situation is a painful reality for many. This pain can be tempered though by understanding that we have reasons for making our choices, so just because we are not always completely satisfied and ecstatic with the result, it does not mean it was a bad choice for us at the time. Sometimes we make the choices we do because the alternative choice was simply too high a cost for us at the time we were making it. If this is accepted as true, then it is far easier to not be resentful of the choices we have made.
The cost of the alternative was too high at the time that choice was made.
Many believe unhappiness in life usually comes from not having the things that we think we want. Depression inspires the belief that we cannot get them. Understanding the reason we do not have them makes it is easier to be content with what we do have. While everybody has different things they want, looking at some examples of things people often say they want and the “cost” may make it clearer how it is really choice.
Example 1 – Super physical fitness is a classic example. Many lament they are not 8% body fat super muscular physically fit like that one friend, or the models in magazines and TV. “I would do anything to look like that” but the cost of looking like that is hours and hours in a gym, extremely strict diets, and fitness regimens that most would never consider actually doing. The “cost” in time effort and sacrifice is actually more than the desire to have the look, despite claims of “doing anything to look like that”.
Example 2 – I want more money is another very common one and actually can be replaced equally with big beautiful house, sports car, etc. While many would like to have these things, actually taking the direct route to getting those things by working 70 hours week, getting another job, never turn down overtime or holiday, cashing in vacation instead of use, don’t spend any money except true necessities so can save, etc., is simply too high for most. Most want to have other smaller extras, or spend less time working not more, so the actual desire for that luxury is actually far less than the cost to get it.
People stand the best chance at contentment once they start to accept some things would be nice to have, but they have made other choices instead that, at the time of the decision, had more value to them. Consider even the people looking for relationships. Many have wished to date or have a relationship and find it very hard. The fact is though, as much as they hate to be alone, the perceived “cost” of another possible “no” is greater than desire for having that relationship, or the fear of another bad relationship is greater than the desire to not be alone.
Even on the other end of the scale, when it is not a mansion, but simply not to be homeless. It is not a sports car but just food. There are still our own choices at play. The cost of asking for or accepting help, applying for another job while risking rejection again, giving up possessions or beloved animals, moving to another location and giving up friends or familiar places. Even those in the most dire straits are still deeply involved in the making of choices. Certainly many choices might boil down to the lesser evil, but they are our choices none the less.
People sometimes must learn to accept the reason they do not have some of the things they are convinced are missing from their life (or that they envy in the lives of others) is because they have chosen it. It is not chosen as in planned 2 years ago to be where they are right now, but it is the result of other decisions and choices along the way. This is not the “take responsibility for your own actions speech” (though it may apply on occasion) but rather to accept you made those choices for a reason and even though the end result was not optimal, it was based on choices that you deemed best at the time. Even the reflective belief of you “should have done differently” does not automatically mean it was wrong at the time you chose.
When you have accepted that you got into a place by way of the choices you made in the past, then your mind can believe that choices you make now will in fact change the future. That is how you see past hopelessness. You take the power of your choices back so that there is the possibility of change and with the possibility of change comes hope. When you have hope and the knowledge that the choices you make today will change tomorrow, then you have a future again.