Are you surrounding yourself with the right kind of people to beat your depression or anxiety? The “right kind of people” is not code for people who make a certain amount of money, practice a certain form of religion, or look a certain way. The “right” people are the ones who support all efforts toward self-improvement and growth both in themselves and in others. These people are priceless.
Sometimes as we struggle to cope with the difficulties of life, whether with anxiety, depression, or simply stress, we find ourselves reaching out to try anything and everything we can think of in an effort to feel better.
As you start to feel the depression or anxiety really beginning to drain you, you may start to wonder if maybe you should give something a try, maybe it will help. You’ll probably start to feel curious about what types of things others in your situation have found helpful and start looking into them. You may start to think of friends who swear they feel better when they exercise. You might picture yourself sitting cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed and feeling as calm and collected as the Dalai Llama. Or you might start to wonder if maybe those few beers every night really are affecting you. Hopefully, you’ll decide to try something new to get you out of the funk you seem to have fallen into.
Some people take up exercising and find that the feeling of physical exertion and movement gives them an energy boost, leaves them feeling productive and confident, and helps to burn off some of the stress and angst that has built up.
Others dabble in meditation and find themselves feeling calmer, more positive, more self-assured.
Still others turn to creative outlets such as writing or making music, spending time with positive and supportive friends or family, or spending quality time outdoors.
Some come to therapy and find a place to be unapologetically themselves and find that they leave with a better understanding of themselves, a greater sense of influence on their own lives, and acceptance of the things outside our control.
These are all wonderful things. These things can all help to lift your spirits, calm your nerves, or give you a sense of peace or hope for the future. Unfortunately, they all have one thing in common: There will always be at least a few people who have something negative to say about them. Inevitably, when you start doing something positive, something different, or start taking a chance on something new to help or better yourself in some way, there will always be a few people who can’t help by bring you down.
People will ask you “Why bother?”
They’ll wonder “Why did you you decide to give up alcohol if you’re not an alcoholic?”
They’ll think “You really believe you can keep up a regular exercise routine? Who are you kidding?”
They’ll tell you it’s pointless, it doesn’t work.
They’ll try to make you feel guilty for choosing to do something good for yourself when you could be doing something else “more productive.”
These are the nay-sayers. You will know them by the judgmental look on their face the first time you get a chance to tell them about this new and positive thing you’re trying to do for yourself.
It’s important to note that these people, the negative nellies, are often not intentionally raining on your parade. Often times, they may not even realize the impact of their reaction. They may in fact believe they are helping you in some way.
It’s actually quite helpful to experience this interaction, as painful as it may be, because it gives you an opportunity to really look at the people you share your life with. Are they supportive and encouraging? Do they push you to become that best version of yourself? Or are they negative and judgmental? Criticizing of your efforts to help yourself?
A study by Dr. Dina Carbonell at Simmons College revealed that those who fare the best in difficult circumstances, those who are most resilient, are the people who readily identify and seek out others who are available, trustworthy, and helpful.
So who are the “right” people to surround yourself with? You will know them by the way you feel after spending time with them. These are the people who leave you feeling better that you made the effort to see them, feeling more hopeful, more connected, and more encouraged.
Try this: Make a list of 5 to 10 people in your life that you consider friends, or family you turn to. Consider who among these people is most supportive. Who is encouraging? Who is accepting? Who leaves you feeling better after you’ve told them what new and positive steps you’re trying to take for yourself?
Now, make an effort to stay in touch with these people regularly. Call them or text them. Set a date to have dinner together, even if it’s via Facetime or Skype. Let them do what they do best–support you and encourage you to be your best self.
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