Pessimism and Depression
Depression is a pessimistic response to a situation that one does not like! It is impossible to become depressed when one is optimistic. Depression is rooted in pessimistic ideation and rumination. It is a choice to respond to life's problems with pessimism rather than with optimism. It is a decision to become discouraged when things are not going the way that one wants them to. The depressed person mostly sees the proverbial glass as half empty rather than half full. Pessimism leads to frustration, anger, discouragement, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, fear, anxiety, low self-esteem, and finally depression. And depression reinforces pessimism, causing the depression to worsen. Over time, this creates a downward emotional spiral into ever greater pessimism and depression. It is analogous to digging a hole deeper and deeper for oneself and finally getting in so deep that it is impossible to get out.
Nowhere is it written that a person has to react to a difficulty or an obstacle with pessimism. It is possible to be optimistic no matter what happens. For some reason, the depressed person cannot imagine any other response to an unfavorable situation except pessimism, which seems to be a dominant part of his/her psychological makeup. Pessimistic thinking evokes an entire constellation of negative emotions, which eventually result in depression, affecting not only the mind but also the body.
What, then, is the cure for depression? The pessimistic, depression-prone individual must learn to think entirely differently about life's disappointments. He/she must recognize the extreme importance of being optimistic no matter what may come his/her way. He/she must understand that he/she does have total control over his/her own thoughts, and that he/she has the power to choose how he/she will respond to any situation. Negative thinking has to be repudiated. It must be seen for what it really is: an enemy.
Unfortunately, depressed people tend to believe that they have little or no control over how they react to what happens to them. They imagine that other people and
circumstances govern their thinking and emotions--that the locus of control is outside of themselves. Thus, they see themselves as victims, unable to do much, if anything, about their problems. This is what causes the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that characterize depression.
One has to understand that depression does not occur outside but rather on the inside of oneself. Therefore, a depressed person does indeed have control over the depression, because it belongs to him/her. It is a part of his/her nature. The belief that other people and circumstances control one's life, and therefore one's state of mind, is really an illusion. There is no basis in truth for such a belief. However, this belief is so powerful and convincing in the mind of the depressed person that it does not matter to him/her whether it is real or not. In other words, it might as well be real. Consequently, it becomes very difficult to alter this belief once it has become ingrained. Hence, treating depression can be quite problematical, especially if it goes on for a long time.
Nevertheless, there is a way out of depression. It is a hard lesson for the depressed person to learn, but it must be learned. Pessimism is a choice and a learned response to life's disappointments and problems. In depression it becomes a habitual way of looking at things. However, it is an unnecessary reaction. There is a better option (optimism), which mitigates depression and provides hope in the midst of even the worst of circumstances, making a way for positive change.
Copyright © 2007 Mind Renewal Self-Help