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Page’s Perspective: What You Need is a Process

By Page Rutledge |

Page’s Perspective is a monthly column focusing on emotional wellness and developing a sense of personal well-being.

Q: Dear Page,

I know I’m depressed and I’ve read about ways to deal. I searched online. I’ve looked at a zillion sites, read articles in my doctor’s office, and none of it feels inspiring, or makes me want to do anything. Really, I am just stuck, and I’m pretty sick of myself. Got any suggestions?

A: We are exquisite creatures, right? It’s just that beauty is forever in the eye of the beholder.

What if you could change your view, step out of your heavy cloud cover and into the sunlight where a more expansive focus is possible? One that merely by being in that space makes you feel generally more pleased with life itself? One that eases the daily irritations and makes it less effortful to dismiss them, or allows you to simply walk around them?

Oh no, not meditation! Is that what you were thinking I was about to propose? Or how about keeping a gratitude journal? Nope, not that either. Or maybe you should hit the gym a little harder. Oh, say you don’t like that one either? Just staying on the sofa is a good option–not.

When people are stuck, that is exactly what they do. They keep shutting down viable options. They tend to isolate themselves, which is the worst possible course of action, if you can call it that. Action, that is.

We all need connection in the worst way. The primary reason depression is so rampant in modern society is the conflict between our evolutionary genetic makeup, which is to stick together in small bands for survival, versus the fragmentation modern society continually forces on families. Whether you are job hunting or heading towards the other end of the spectrum, it often results in a move to a new city or town, or even country, where you know no one. And typically with no family support either. (I know, some of us want to run as far from our families as possible, but stay on topic, okay?)

How do you find connection? Here’s a short list. Oops, kidding. I have no list for you. I like writing lists, but they can be kind of boring to read. But I do have a process to suggest. My friend Tammy got me to thinking about this. Consider the times in your life when you were (or still are) either working, volunteering, engaged in a hobby, or raising children, and focus on what you liked about the activity.

What are you good at?

Here are a few examples: when you were working, were you good at getting people to reach consensus? Were you excellent at setting and reaching budget goals? When you were raising children, what helped you succeed? Were you extraordinarily patient with them? Could you see from their point of view? When you were volunteering, what about that task gave you a sense of satisfaction? Does having different projects from time to time float your boat?

Every city has employers and organizations that would benefit from your abilities. And widening your point of view is helpful. Think wide angle camera lens. once you have the wider view, you can rest your focus more easily on the subject (or would that be object?) of your desire. I watched my husband recently expand an activity he was peripherally involved in: contra dancing. He had been attending dances off and on for some time, and then they asked him if he might help with setting up and maintaining the sound equipment. Just like that, he was doing an activity he both liked and is good at, but in a different setting. He had forgotten how much he liked the behind the scenes work that he did in high school with stage shows.

Widening the focus. And placing your attention habitually on the positive. But that is a subject for another time. See you next month!

P.S. If you think this little article might be helpful to someone, even a stranger, would you just rip it right out of the ‘zine and hand it over? Or if you are online, share? You never know the effect it might have on someone’s life.

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Page Rutledge is a licensed Clinical Social Worker practicing in Wilmington, NC. She specializes in anxiety management and relationship counseling. Visit her website and blog at www.pagerutledge.com.

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