Month: January 2009

Want To Beat Depression, Emptiness, And Feeling Overwhelmed? Watch A Child

A huge number of adults feel overwhelmed or depressed on a regular basis.  It can be from any of a huge number of sources, although any of those sources can be tied to one of the three areas of your life that I talked about in my last article.

Have you ever seen a young child depressed or overwhelmed?  Even if you have, at one point or another, have you ever seen them stay that way for long?

Many adults (maybe even you) would respond that young children are not under the same stress as adults.  While this is true, there is another secret that we know when we are young, and tend to forget as we grow older.

What is that secret?  It’s simple, though not always easy… if you want to defeat feelings of depression or being overwhelmed, simply decide to do something and do it.

It doesn’t really matter what it is that you do, as long as it is a conscious choice to do it, though it generally works better if it takes more than just a couple of minutes.  You can choose to go fishing, build something, or even make a nice dinner.  It works even better, of course, if your action helps to work toward clearing up whatever had you feeling depressed or overwhelmed in the first place.

Children do this instinctively… watch a 3 or 4 year old, and see how often they sit still, not doing much.  They will do so to watch TV sometimes, or play video games, but watch them after they do this… they will be grumpier and misbehave more often.  It’s not because of what they watched or played.  It’s because they ceased to be active, and became passive instead.

Passive activities drain your energy… they suck away your positive feelings and leave you feeling empty.  Passive activities are, by nature, activities that take your time and your energy without a return:  your energy still goes into the activity, but you get nothing back.

Active activities take your time and energy, also, but that energy is returned to you by the results of your activity.  It may be returned when you eat the fish you catch, or when you see your home clean, or when you see your body change shape (if your active action happens to be physical).  It may even be returned by looking at what you created, if you choose some type of creative activity (I personally happen to like woodworking… I’d like music and art, too, if I had any talent in those areas).

A lot of adults are passive most of the time.  They let their energy drain away into nothingness, with nothing to show for it.  This can usually be traced back to a specific event, something that they didn’t want to deal with.  They then sought passive ways to “escape” from that event, which started the process of bleeding away their energy and positive emotions.

Once that drain starts, it makes it harder and harder to stop being passive, as you have less and less energy to use actively.  That leads to being even more passive, and even more drain, until sometimes it adds up to the point that you feel like you have no energy left, like you are empty and dying inside.  Life feels overwhelming because you have so little energy to grab it and take what you want and need from it.

If you want to beat those horrible feelings (I know how bad they are… I’ve been to the bottom of that barrel), you have to put a STOP to those passive activities that are draining your energy.  You have to turn off the computer, turn off the TV, get out of bed, and do something.

The easiest way to start is to take a shower and get cleaned up.  Even that is a start on becoming active.  Once you are cleaned up, get out of the house (or apartment, or wherever it is that you live)… it doesn’t really matter too much where you go, although some place that you enjoy is an easy choice when you’re just getting started.  Once you’ve gotten started on this, try inviting someone else to do something with you… it can be a friend, a family member, significant other, or complete stranger.  Activities that involve more than one person get more result for less energy spent.

This can be a fragile time, right at the beginning.  It can be very easy to fall back into the passive activities that you were just doing, so the best thing to do is to keep away from them as much as possible.  Any time that you’re not at work (where your job may require it), stay away from the computer, the TV, and the video games (unless you have someone over who is doing it with you, and even then don’t do it for long).

The more you stay away from your old passive activities, and the more you continue in your new active activities, the easier it becomes, and the more “full” your life will generally seem to become.  This will bring about positive results not only for you, but for everyone around you.  Your relationships are almost certain to improve (providing, of course, that you don’t neglect them in your pursuit of one of your new activities), your self-esttem and self-respect will improve, and you will generally be more pleasant to be around.  You are also likely to do better at work, and even like your job better.  Depending on the activities that you choose, you may even find another means of income or a new job.

You can get started on this today.  You only have two ways to spend your time and energy:  actively and passively.  If you choose to stop your passive activities, you will find that you HAVE to choose active ones to replace them.

Let your “inner child” out… let them out to do and to play (which is active, of course).  Do things that you enjoy, and find others who enjoy those things too.  You will soon find that the emptiness that seemed to fill you is, itself, being filled.

What You’ve Been Taught About Home/Work Life Balance Is Probably Wrong

You’ve heard before about the need to balance your home and work life.  This is generally said to tell someone that they are working too much.

Balancing your life is great… without balancing it, eventually something will slide too far and you will generally end up feeling miserable, whether because of loneliness, financial stress, or something else (it depends on what you let slide).

The problem is that there are not two aspects, there are three… and each one has a different “weight” for different people, meaning that how much of one you need varies.

What You Are Balancing

The three aspects of your life that are required to remain in balance for you to have a truly happy, fulfilling life are: work, social (family and friends), and personal (you).  Each of these areas has both a positive and a negative side. The positive side adds to the overall positive energy and feelings in your life, while the negative side drains from the same.

The fact that each aspect contributes to (or detracts from) the whole of your life means that any one of them being too far into the negative can damage the others, too.  Think about it this way:  If your work life is negative enough, it is going to be harder and harder to overcome that to have truly good time with your family and friends, which makes it even harder to have the good time for yourself.

The Details Of The Aspects

  • Work
    The positive side of the work aspect of your life is the feeling of doing something useful, of accomplishing something and being a necessary part of the “team”.  Along with this is the needto be appreciated… even if you feel like you are useful, or even critical, if you do not feel appreciated, it will overall be negative (in the long run).The negative side of work is feeling like you are not important, or that you are not appreciated… that your work is not valued.  There is also negative available when you are TOO necessary, although that is also linked to the appreciation factor… if your work was properly appreciated, you would get the support you need to be able to do what you do and still be able to step away (to your social or personal aspects).
  • Social
    The positive side of your social life is the feeling that there are people with whom you can relax and be yourself.  You do not have to keep up a front, and you can let most of your walls down.  These are people who you can call on for help without needing to specifically do something to pay for it.  Spending time on this aspect of your life helps to let you mentally recover from any drain work may have placed on you.The negative side of your social life is when the balance of helping each other gets tipped too far one way or the other, although the most noticeable, of course, is when it gets tipped in the direction of others.  This can be when you have people in your friends or family who are always taking from you, whether mentally or materially, but it can also be when you are always taking and not giving back… either one eventually makes for a drain from the social aspect of your life, instead of a positive contribution.
  • Personal
    The positive side of the personal aspect of your life is feelingthe satisfaction of doing what you want to do, the feeling of having time when you do not have to worry about taking care of anyone but yourself.  Positive personal time is time spent on something you enjoy, with no deadlines.  This time is absolutely critical to an overall positive balance in your life.The negative side of your personal aspect comes from having time to yourself, but not doing anything productive with it.  The definition of productive here is different than what you might think, however… it can be productive to simply sit and do nothing, as long as you are actively choosing to do that.  Non-productive time is when you just default to doing something (time spent on the computer can go this way rather easily, as can time in front of the TV) rather than actively choosing to do something.


The most commonly neglected aspect is the personal.  It can be easy for a person with a giving nature to concentrate on work, then after that take care of social, and never really get around to personal.  I am personally guilty of doing just that… I often forget the importance of actively taking time to do something for myself.  Even when I have time, I often simply default to doing something… this is something I intend to change.

So… do you want to make your life better overall?  If so, sit down and take the time to examine all three aspects of your life, and see where you are getting a positive contribution and where you have a negative drain.  Once you have determined where the drain is coming from, take a look at that area and see if you can specifically find out why there is a drain and work on fixing that thing.

Let me know (in the comments) if there is something in particular that you have a problem with, or something that you have overcome, or if you have anything else interesting to say!