Act of Will CAN Beat Depression Every Time
Thousands of people already get out of depression as an act of will. From childhood, they have learned to immediately turn away from downer thoughts that will sooner of later turn into depression. Or, even if hit by a full-blown depressive episode, they turn away from thoughts about their pain to any other kinds of thoughts that distract them from depression. Others have devised mind exercises that they have “at the ready” to use when depression hits.
So then, why don’t we all get out of depression as an act of will? Sometimes the reason is as simple as the language we use to describe what we see as the reality of our lives.The very leczenie depresji language we use can subtly distort reality. If we would be more accurate in describing things, we would be able to make better decisions about them. If we called it sugar water with poison gas and caffeine in it instead of a soft drink, maybe we wouldn’t drink so much of it. If we called it gambling, instead of gaming, maybe we’d think less of it.
“Men have an all but incurable propensity to prejudge all the great questions which interest them,” said 19th Century English jurist Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, “by stamping their prejudices upon their language.” Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz said, “We use words to label and help us comprehend the world around us. At the same time, many of the words we use are like distorting lenses: they make us misperceive and hence misjudge the object we look at.”
Advertising agencies use language to con us into doing what they want, whether it is in our best interests or not. Used cars are called previously-owned cars. The emotional feelings engendered by certain words can subvert our rational processes. Nobody wants a USED CAR while everybody wants to OWN A CAR. You can see the different feelings inspired by the two different phrases.
You see ads for a WHOLE half of a chicken. You get the emotional high from the word WHOLE so you kind of ignore the fact that you’re only getting a half. A sales manager once told me he never asks a customer to “sign something” because, “Everybody’s mother has warned them never to sign anything, and they will immediately get skittish and resistant.” Instead, he presents a contract and asks the prospective buyer to “please authorize this.” Everybody wants to have authority. Authority is a good thing.
In the same vein, if we call depression a disease, we can be convinced that all we need to do is to take medicine for it. We will feel no need take any other personal action on our own behalf. So we won’t be able to help ourselves when depression hits as long as we allow ourselves to speak this language of convenience. I say language of convenience, because truth can be extremely inconvenient. Truth generally requires that we ourselves have to get busy and do something difficult.
Psychiatrists have been telling us that we can’t help ourselves because depression deprives us of our will. This is not true. Depression does not deprive us of will or option. It merely deprives us of motivation due to the heavy toll the stress chemicals wreak upon our metabolic system. If depression deprived us of will, we would not be able to do so much as to lift up our own arm. Will is not quantitative. It is qualitative. Motivation is quantitative. It is the feeling of wanting to do something, in degrees of more or less.
Depression per se does not really limit our behavior. There’s nothing you can’t do while being depressed. You still have the will to do whatever you want, even if you don’t feel like it. You do other things as a matter of will that you don’t feel like–writing a report, getting dinner, doing the laundry. You just haven’t applied this same principle to depression. Mainly because some people in the psychological community have you convinced that you can’t.
Once we believe something, it is human nature to discount contradictory information as incorrect or irrelevant. Therefore it’s hard to get out of depression, as an act of will, when people we respect tell us that we can’t. But you can opt out of depression any time you want.
Getting out of depression is harder than getting dinner or doing laundry, admittedly, but the fact remains that it is just as doable. Especially if you are alerted to the difference between will and motivation. Even in the depths of depression, a person still has the capability to change their behavior at any moment. It is a simple enough thing to stop crying and do some little exercise or mind trick. It is a simple thing to take your attention off bad feelings and concentrate your attention, instead, on the weave of the material on your sofa. It isn’t easy, because you lack motivation. But you can do it when you remember that you still have will, free will.