Thursday, September 21, 2017

All Things are Impermanent

The changing seasons are always a good reminder that nothing ever stays the same.  Everything changes.  When it's Summer, you can be sure, it won't be Summer forever; and when it's Winter, you can also be sure, it will eventually change into Spring.  And just as the seasons change, so does everything else.  Including our moods.

When Fall changes come and the days seem shorter as the number of hours of daylight decrease, many people fall victim to bouts of depression.  It's easy to get trapped into the belief that when in a depressed mood, one might never escape.  "I've been like this forever."  "Nothing ever changes it."  "It'll never get better."  But typically, moods change and you realize that episodes of depression don't last forever.  Depressions lift, moods change, and others will replace them in time.

These consistent human changes are true for anxiety as well.  When anxiety surfaces, it can be accompanied by over-generalized thoughts that include word descriptions of "permanence".  Such as, "this feeling will never stop", or "I'm always going to be this way."  They include words such as, "never", "always", "forever" and "never-ending".  But in reality, episodes of anxiety are also not permanent and in time, will change to something else.  When experiencing them, you can ease some of your cognitive suffering by reminding yourself, "This won't last forever", "It's not permanent", and, "This feeling will pass or change", etc.

Learning to sit through the discomfort of seasons (or moods) that are not particularly your favorite, is part of accepting reality as it is.  Does that mean you should never take medication for depression or anxiety?  Not at all.  That would be like saying you should never choose to use a blanket in the winter when the temperatures drop.  Medication, like a blanket, is a matter of choice, and sometimes survival.

The point is, to try not to get trapped in hopeless internal self-talk in which you convince yourself that whatever discomfort you may currently feel will last forever and that you will be a hopeless victim to it.  Just keep in mind that -- like the seasons -- all things change in time.  Including your current mood.

Thanks to Bernard Spragg. NZ for the great photo