Giving to others…
When our minds, bodies, and souls are consumed by depression there is often barely enough energy left in us to roll out of bed, let alone help someone else. Everything inside of you is screaming “LEAVE ME ALONE” and your next objective is often to find another way to isolate and avoid humanity altogether. In fact, you might have received professional advice or support from a loved one telling you to “take a break”, “grab a nap”, or “it’s okay you’re depressed, you don’t have to go to work/the party/your kids game/or fill in the blank.” While this advice might indeed be necessary in some instances, I can also tell you that in the face of your depression it is necessary for you to get outside of your own misery and do what you can to help others! Yes…beating back your depression takes effort, sometimes herculean effort and as much as you might want to push back on that notion, the outcome of this idea is scientific, clinical, and self-evident.
I am often asked why the Face It men’s groups are so successful (we have just launched our 7th ongoing group and support over 60 men!) and while there are likely many contributing factors, I believe the greatest reason is because men who are suffering, can and DO help other men WHILE helping themselves. I suspect people far wiser than me could cite the exact mechanism by which our brains work to help us feel better about ourselves while helping others, but let me break it down in terms I understand.
Helping others…is the right thing to do, always, even when we feel miserable. Despite your misery, you have reasons to be grateful and when you can acknowledge this and begin to help others, you begin to take some control over you own life. You begin to see that you do matter, that you do have skills, that you can help other people feel good, AND you can begin to recognize the YOU have the capacity to find contentment, peace, and happiness from within. Is this easy? Of course not. Does it cost you anything? Nope. Do you have to wait 3 weeks for an appointment to learn how to do this? No way. Does it happen the first time you hold the door open for someone at the supermarket? Maybe. Is it a first step in the process of beginning to feel better? Absolutely.
My wish for each of you reading this is that today you find (and take) one opportunity to do something for someone else, then bask for a moment in the fact that you have lots to offer others!