The Happiness Project
Take one depressed person...me
Implement one suggestion from a self help book each week
See what happens
Here's the deal. I have suffered from depression pretty much as far back as my memory will go. I have tried antidepressants but decided they were not for me. I have attempted to work out my issues in recent years under the guidance of a three different therapists who bore a keen resemblance to Curly, Larry, and Moe. I quit therapy when I decided that my therapists needed a therapist more than I did. Jaded and disgruntled, I decided to take my mental health into my own hands.
With library card in hand I went and checked out every self help book I could find.
My mission....to help myself through the written guidance of self help gurus. Can one unmedicated, therapyless woman find happiness just by reading books? Let's find out.
I invite you to participate in my weekly journey towards the pursuit of happiness. Let the transformation begin!
Week Number One: August 12, 2009
I am going to begin my self help journey with a book called "Ten Days to Self-Esteem" by David D. Burns, M.D
Doctor Burns claims that you can defeat depression and develop self-esteem through the methods described in his book.
Okey Dokey let's give it a go.
Exercise Number One: The Mirror Method
Doctor Burns gives the following steps:
1. Make a list of all your negative thoughts about yourself. (Gee...this is gonna take awhile)
2. Stand in front of a mirror and face yourself. (Can I close my eyes?)
3. Read your negative thoughts out loud, one by one, using the first person ("I" statements)
4. Defend yourself against your negative, self critical thoughts using the second person ("you" statements). Talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would if you were helping a friend.
Okay so basically he wants us to talk to ourselves. Don't we go to therapy to not do that?
Here is what happened when I attempted this exercise:
* I found it easy to come up with negative thoughts as "I" statements.
* I found it very difficult to stare into the mirror and say this stuff.
* I found it even more difficult to look into the mirror and tell myself nice things.
This is an example of the dialogue I had with myself.
Negative Me: "I can't do anything really well."
The me who consoles negative me: "Your depression tells you this about yourself but it really isn't true. There are some things you do well and you should feel good about those things."
That was about as long of a conversation as I wanted to have with myself. Once I got over my awkwardness and inner "Ewww" feeling about such an exercise I found it to be emotionally powerful. I did continue with the exercise.
Merely Me's Rating: out of five smiles of happiness.
Wanna join me on my quest? It is easy. Just complete the exercise and tell me how it worked for you in the comments. Here's to happiness!
Published On: August 12, 2009