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After all the highs of the holiday season, January can be a bit of a let down. It’s not unusual for people to feel a little blue at this time of year. For some people, feeling down, dejected, blah, numb, indifferent, detached, apathetic, disinterested, aloof, or emotionally dull is not seasonally connected. These are all expressions of depression, usually in its most common and mildest form.

Depression plagues huge segments of our population. Most people are not even aware that they are mildly depressed.

Here’s a little test: If you are not feeling distinct happiness or some other specific emotion, there is a good chance that you are depressed, either mildly or significantly. When depressed, one often turns down the volume on his or her emotions and feels rather bland.

Depression is energy-absorbing, so people find themselves doing less over time. As they get older they are less involved in life, less active, less creative, less enthusiastic, or simply bored. This emotional blandness becomes the norm and few people recognize its seriousness.

Various degrees of depression can be rooted in biological causes, so it is important to get checked by your physician. No matter the cause or the degree of depression, it changes the way you think. This is something you have some control over and talking to a professional will help.

To combat depression, you will want to take on new thinking strategies and practice behavior that supports these attitudes.

Do you ever feel hard-done by? Like the world is ganging up on you? If so, you are likely feeling sorry for yourself. A frequent precursor to depression, this is a mental or emotional form of suffering known as self-pity. It is most often derived from the weakness that grows out of self-criticism.

Feeling sorry for yourself is a condition we all have under the right circumstances. If your family and partner reject you, your boss fires you, you lose all your money, society ostracizes you and your dog growls at you, somewhere in there, you will start to feel sorry for yourself. For most people, there is a point where they develop a ‘poor me’ attitude. If you listen to people who have just had a significant problem develop in their life, they frequently ask “Why me?”

The question is, “Why not you?” There’s a sense of grandiosity in asking “Why me?” Others have bad things happen to them, why not you? You may think it is unfair or wrong that bad things happen to you — and this may be true. But the question remains, “Why not you? What makes you so special as to be the only person who must avoid these things?”

I am not taking a harsh or cold approach, just one that conforms to reality. Life can be difficult and unfair. If life was fair, we would not need a justice department. Whoever told us that life was going to be fair or easy? It’s just not that way.

We have grown up watching Westerns, cop shows, and Disney movies that give us the illusion that life is fair. The good guy rides off into the sunset on a white horse with his lady, while the bad guy is face down in the dirt wearing black. The message is that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.

It is healthy to understand that, yes, sometimes bad things happen to people who have attempted to do everything right, but they can find strength, withstand it and grow.

Overcoming self-pity is the ability to roll with the punches, to realize that you are strong, that you will survive and that you can make things better. Believe it or not, you can overcome, handle and stand anything. Remember to keep moving forward.

Here are some tips to help you feel stronger:

  1. Never berate yourself. Do the opposite – praise, compliment and encourage yourself.
  2. Take charge and proactively work at making yourself or your situation better.
  3. Treat yourself wonderfully, as you would your best friend…or better.
  4. Take action. Action usually precedes a change in feeling – do not wait to feel better first.
  5. Accept support and compliments graciously.
  6. Decide to take time to play or have ‘quiet time’ for yourself each day.

Don’t get dragged down in the blah, neutral zone. Be decisive, act and then you’ll be able to move into a better space.

NOTE: If you have a question about emotions, behaviour or relationships, please email Culture Magazin at editors@culturemagazin.com.
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FREE tips of love for Valentine’s Day:  To receive an article about 17 Tips of Love for Valentine’s Day and the rest of the year by Dr. Daniel Rutley, email Culture Magazin at editors@culturemagazin.com  with “Love Tips” in the subject line.