Visualizing when depressed.

Photo by Markus Ewert

One of the hallmarks of depression is the inability to imagine a future. This can mean different things for different people. In a deeply depressive state, it can be a challenge to imagine how the next few hours may go, let alone the next year or five.

This, simply put, really sucks because visualization is such an incredibly powerful tool.

If you can’t see the horizon, moving forward in any real way can feel like you are sludging your way through a really dank, dark forest. Every movement feels not only difficult but pointless because… where the hell are you heading?

Because of my struggle with depression, having dreams and coming up with lofty goals to reach for hasn’t been an easy or pleasurable thing for me. Mostly, when I try to dream or imagine myself in some fabulous circumstance, I just get sad. I get sad because it’s so difficult for me to do, and I get sad because even if I do manage to conjure up something, it slips away so easily.

Instead of beating myself up about this and forcing myself to dream of grand homes and travel and fabulous adventures and an amazing career, I have resolved to do the following 2 things…

  1. Create a vision board. I do not subscribe to the Law Of Attraction version of this. I will create a vision board for the most practical of reasons: so my visions won’t be so easily forgotten, as they usually are.
  2. Focus on small-scale visualization. What are my next 5 moves? What will I do next and what comes after that? How can I move fluidly and easily from that thing to the next thing? What does Mallory one-week-from-now look like? These are the questions I’ve started asking myself each day.

I’ll post my vision board when it’s finished, and accompany it with an update on my small-scale visualization exercises.

=) Happy Holidays

Why I’ve kept myself from setting goals.

Photo by Bekir Dönmez

For most of my life, I’d never been one to set big goals or “dream big”. In a journal entry a few weeks ago, I asked myself flat-out why I think that is. I was able to clarify at least a couple of reasons, and I’d like to share them. Perhaps others can relate!

  1. Envy. Until my early to mid-20s, which is when I began to gain some wisdom in this area, I always envied people that had “a lot” – a lot of money, a big gorgeous home, great beauty, great confidence, great talent, etc. The envy ran pretty deep and it is only recently that I realized how much I let it control me. Though I never begrudged anyone their happiness or good fortune, I put them on a very high pedestal in my mind. The gap I felt between myself and “them” widened over time and it ended up feeling like more of a weight. In my misguided attempt to lift this weight, I guess I somehow convinced myself that I would simply never have what they had. I convinced myself that those people were just lucky, I wasn’t, and that was that. I wouldn’t even let myself imagine what it would feel like to have what they had (and I specifically remember saying that so many times- “wow, I can’t even IMAGINE!”). It’s not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t. [Important sidenote: I have fantastic, supportive parents. They never, ever told me that anything was out of my reach. Introvert that I am – I hardly expressed or discussed the envy that I had with anyone for so long, out of embarrassment maybe (?) or to preserve my pride (?), so I think it just quietly chipped away at a part of me.]
  2. Depression. I’m prone to it, and one of the symptoms is the inability to clearly envision a future. I believe this symptom, which I’ve experienced MANY times in various depressive slumps, managed to stick to my every day thought patterns.
  3. Overthinking. This one is sort of related to the other two, but I felt it was worth clarifying. If I have the beginnings of an idea about my future and what I could possibly do with it, I’m able to talk myself out of it pretty quickly. I think about the reasons it may not work and sure enough, I become fearful and want to climb back into my comfort zone.

The abundance other people have has absolutely no bearing on my goal for more abundance in my life. I know this now.

If I hit a depressive slump, I try to journal my thoughts & feelings and keep them confined in there. I remind myself that what I feel during those times isn’t always real; that the depression is hogging my attention. I cannot allow it to follow me.

As for the problem of overthinking: I’m working on it! I’m working on my ability to concentrate and my ability to control my awareness. Like anything else, this takes practice, but I am already reaping the rewards. [I highly recommend this YouTube video about the power of concentration: Dandapani: Controlling Your Awareness]

Gaining clarity on why I haven’t set big goals for myself has been enormously helpful. I’ve been able to combat my unhealthy thought patterns and obstacles because I know exactly what I’m up against. At this point, I can confidently say that envisioning a future and dreaming up great, big, wonderful goals has never felt easier.