Depression. The awakening is painful because now you are beginning to realize you cannot have what you hope for, or maybe you had it but lost it, or you can still have it but the point is, it is not here now.
You become frustrated. The frustration escalates to anger. You are angry at people you think directly or indirectly caused your pain of separating, being torn away from the hope, the dream.
You may just be angry at the circumstance, at the whole situation. Finding no one responsible, you might direct your anger at the world in general. Failing that, you direct your anger inwards, and that, spins you in a downward spiral of depression indulging in one angry thought after another, one painful thought after another, sad thought after pitying thought after another.
You dig yourself into this deep hole isolated and disconnected from the world. You might even take comfort in this isolation, like a cocoon. This serves to sink you deeper and deeper still. Following the isolation you utter “No one really understands me. No one feels my pain.”
Drugs and alcohol follow perhaps? You drive yourself into another world the underground. There you say you find people who understand or otherwise don’t really give a hoot so you can be who you want to be. No one understands. No one cares, so you don’t care either.
What is wrong with this picture?
Well, absolutely nothing if you want to be depressed and stay depressed. The problem is this almost obsessive indulgence with the angry thoughts and the sad thoughts one negative thought feeding the next. We are not trying to argue the validity of these thoughts and emotions only the obsessive clinging to them.
The solutions are simple but you must decide that you want positivity for yourself and you must keep at the solutions and not sink back into old habits of thinking. You have control of your own mind. You have control of your perspective, and that, is the key to your reality.
STOP INDULGING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
As soon as a negative thought arises, just be aware that it is there but do not give it any energy and simply let it go. They are useless and harmful. Release the obsession to follow the train of thought. If you do not give the thought any energy, it has no choice but to dissolve. It is its natural course.
If this is proving difficult at first, breakdown the negative thought. You will find that the negative thought is usually over-generalized and greatly biased. Analyze the rationality of the thought bring it down to reality. Then replace it with a more realistic and positive thought. Take this for example :
Negative Thought : “My life sucks”
Breakdown : “Some parts of my life feel suck right now but not always”
Opposing Positive : I have many good things in my life.
Break down the negative thoughts and watching out for over-generalizations, watch for the use of the words “all”, “everything”, “always” etc. This is a very useful skill. With practice, you soon become aware of your habits of making generalizations which are often irrational. Keep things in perspective. You are not doomed.
You can learn more about this kind of technique in depth with the wise works of Dr. Albert Ellis who pioneered Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy and Dr. Aaron Beck, who developed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Once you are able to catch your irrational generalizations and put them in better perspective, you are able to start substituting negative thoughts and emotions for the opposing negative thoughts and emotions. This is a common technique used in some aspects of Buddhist mind training.
The premise is that an emotion can exist in your mind at any one time but not its opposite. In other words, you can be angry one time and full of love the next but not angry and loving at the same time. When a negative emotion arises, you find the opposite positive emotion and feed that instead. The other starves and dies. Love for anger, happiness for others for jealousy, a smile for a frown.
Of course at first, it may feel insincere and coerced but keep at it. The mind only has to get used to this response. The more you use and practice these positive thoughts and emotions, the easier it is for your mind to bring them up again and again. You can start to respond positively to situations.
Little by little the positivity becomes a habit. It starts to feel more sincere and later on becomes a habit. Habit turns into your mood. Mood turns into temperament. The process is slow but sure and it works and is worth it. The mind has infinite capacity and it can get used to anything. This is the essence of mind training.
STOP USING ISOLATION AS A SOLUTION
Cocooning yourself and sheltering yourself from what is painful and too much to handle does not solve anything. You must stand bravely with love, on your won two feet. Bravely, because cocooning yourself is merely cowardly running away from your experience, with love because this kind of positivity is the only weapon against hatred, anger and sadness. Anger, hatred, sadness and its cousins are very harmful and very violent emotions violent to oneself firstly and violent towards others. Consider facing whatever your experience is with love. Love for oneself means letting go of the destructive emotions. Stop harming yourself and others.
In conclusion remember the following
You have the choice to dig a hole or stand in the warmth of the sun, to indulge negativity or substitute positivity.
You have the tools mind training takes practice and effort but your mind has infinite potential
You have the power to turn your reality into a positive one with love for oneself and others.