New Year's Resolution: Acceptance and Depression
It's that time again. It is a tradition for people to herald the beginning of a new year with the creation of some personal goals. For some, this seems like a dismal and sometimes useless task. What good is it to set goals that one never seems to reach? It can be a reminder of unmet dreams and expectations. It seems we are always on course to improve ourselves and this can prove to be very tiresome over the long haul. One alternate way to approach things is to write an acceptance list instead.
Here is my resolution list for the year:
1. I accept that I am going to feel sad and depressed at times. I spend so much energy fighting depression. I have come to the conclusion that it is more than okay to just accept that these are feelings that I experience from time to time. I am going to stop placing judgments upon these times as good or bad but instead, accept their existence. I give myself permission to feel as I feel. This doesn't mean I don't do anything to help myself. Rather, it means, I don't judge myself for experiencing these periods of sadness.
2. I accept that I sweat the small stuff. Over the years I have come to realize this point about myself. I tend to fuss over the details of things. When this feature of my personality is not driving me crazy, it can be a plus in that when I do a job or perform a task, I pay attention to things others may not. My attention to detail leads me to notice the idiosyncrasies of life which I can then include in my writing.
3. I accept that I do get angry. This actually is very hard for me to accept despite the fact that even Mister Rogers would give the okay to feeling this emotion. I think this one is especially difficult for us women who have been trained all our lives to squelch down anger as it is unladylike. I have found that the direct expression of anger can prevent feelings of depression and feeling down on oneself. I have had to unlearn my behavioral pattern of being afraid of all anger and especially my own. This is a big issue to tackle and I have really only just begun.
4. I accept that the world and others do not exist to make me happy. Sometimes depression is very egocentric. We get so disappointed in people who don't act the way we expect. We get angry over the inherent inequities and unfairness in life. We can't understand when we are giving our all, why the world does not always reward us. Sometimes there is a certain joy in realizing our smallness within the universe. The world isn't out to get us. Neither is the world here to make us happy. The happy part is truly up to us. We are important in what we do and how we respond and not in how the world treats us.
5. I accept that I do not have control over certain things. If you remember that serenity prayer you will recognize this philosophy. There are simply things that are beyond my control. Some of these things will be bad. Sometimes we encounter tragedy. It is so very difficult to admit your vulnerability and powerlessness. But when you do, the irony is that you find yourself to be more powerful. For then you are putting your energies into areas of your life which you can control.
6. I accept that I am human and imperfect. This is one I have a particularly hard time with. I wish to be superhuman at times. I do have a need for perfection. I have trouble knowing when something is enough. I guilt myself each and every day for not doing more. It is a big trap to feel this way. We are taught to always give 100 percent. But you and I know that this is impossible and particularly if you suffer from a mood disorder. We are human and we fail. I just watched one of the Batman movies where the character of Batman remembers something his father told him which was, "Why do we fall? So we know how to pick ourselves up again." I know...I am lame obtaining wisdom from a Batman movie. But I find this adage to be true. I am really digging the super heroes who are portrayed as having very human faults. So if it is okay for batman to be vulnerable then it is okay for me too.
This list isn't really telling you anything new. I know these things and I know you do too. It is simply something which we need to remind ourselves of to feel deep down. My overall goal for this year is to not be afraid to travel down that road towards acceptance. And again, such a list does not imply anything goes and you shouldn't help yourself. What it does mean is that you need not beat yourself up for your human frailties and vulnerabilities. Let go of your judgment and just be.
The best gift you can possibly give to yourself is to accept who you are. I wish you peace and acceptance for this New Year.