What Are You Going To Do About It?
Like everyone else, I have negative self-talk. Self-talk isn’t necessarily rational, and it can wreak havoc on our wellness when it is unchecked.
Since the pandemic hit, I have had persistent fleeting thoughts of “I’m so depressed.” In reality, I am not depressed, but I am so over social distancing, masking, and having nothing to do. (Note: I agree with and participate in the necessity of these things, but I still hate them.)
I’m so over the oppressive negativity in our society and the fact that we can’t even agree on basic truths any longer. Granted, I am lucky to have a job, food, and health. I do recognize that I don’t have a lot to complain about, but I am still human.
My self-talk of “I am so depressed” typically occurs in the morning when I have too much open time on my hands to obsess about feeling emotionally exhausted, bored, and anxious about the future.
It used to be that I would argue the self-talk and tell myself that I wasn’t really depressed. I would tell myself to stop. I would tell myself to get over it. I would review the positives. All of this was somewhat helpful, but I didn’t really feel empowered.
I developed a new response: “What are you going to do about it?”
This response focused on my own accountability for my actions and reactions. Seriously, if my brain is going to generate the complaint, I am holding it responsible for coming up with a solution. Don’t just give me problems. I want to hear solutions!
When I ask myself, “What are you going to do about it?” — I am allowing myself to feel what I feel in the moment. I am not invalidating the feeling of frustration. I am also holding myself responsible for doing something about it. I am acknowledging that I have some power to help myself not fall into a dark hole. I am encouraging myself to make a plan and to act on the plan.
The problem is — for a lot of us — that we fall victim to the negative self-talk and negative emotion that we don’t move past it. We allow it to dictate our day. My bias is to move to action.
In response to “What are you going to do about it?”, I force myself to make choices about my day that keep me busy. I seek interesting ways to spend my time and invest in things that boost my mood. Because I work for a health care system, I had the option of getting the Covid vaccine, and I embraced the possibility of moving on. I have set more solid boundaries against engaging in societal bullshit that I find upsetting. I am trying very hard to savor the very nice things that people say and do in my life that I might be overlooking. (Aside: THANK YOU to everyone who has taken time to share gratitude and kindness with me. Your actions and words have meant the world to me. In that regard, I am the luckiest person alive.)
Let me share with you a recent self-help script I have used to combat the self-talk of “I am so depressed.”
“Okay, motherfucker. This shit again. You and everyone else. What are you going to do about it? Would you like to get take out for dinner at the Italian place you love? Today would be a good day to call _____________ and check in. Talking to _________ always makes you laugh. Don’t forget about that John Grisham book in your closet that you got with the gift card your boss sent you for Christmas. That was super nice. How about playing a family game with the kids? They are growing up so fast. In a few years, they will be gone, and you’ll wish you’d played more games. You could get online and start searching for ideas for a family trip to a national park when warm weather comes back. That sounds fabulous — just the thought of getting outside into the fresh air. I know! You can start spring cleaning or any one of the chores you bitch that you never have time to do. Tax time — you bastard! It’ll take me a whole day to get that paperwork together.”
At this point my anxiety kicks in because I have too many things on my to-do list, and I’ve forgotten about the self-talk that says, “I am so depressed.”
I share all of this with you because this is what I am doing for myself during these crazy times. I can control only my choices, and if I give my control away to others, to chance, to tomorrow, I’ve lost any hope of feeling better. It is my hope that sharing this concrete skill will help you do the same. We are living in unprecedented times. We all feel overwhelmed. The question then becomes “what are you going to do about it” each and every time you feel overwhelmed. What will you commit to doing that will help yourself feel better? What will your actions show? The answer to the question may be that you ask for help from a friend, church, social group, physician, or therapist. Just remember that change starts with you.
I published Move On Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go in November 2020. If you want to know more about my straight talk, evidence-based methods to live your best life, the book is available on Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or New Harbinger.com.