3 Tiny Steps to Break the “I Know Better But I’m Not Doing Better” Cycle

spiral

You know what I never do when I’m feeling depressed? Google “how to stop being depressed.”

Because I know how. I know exactly what I need to do to feel better.

The knowing and the doing are not the same thing.

I don’t know anyone who does exactly what is good for themselves all the time. I know lots of people, however, who get off track and quickly find themselves in a shame spiral about how they should be taking better care of themselves.

You know what doesn’t fix depression? Shame.

In fact, shame can prolong the funk. It keeps us from going back to the gym, or calling a friend, or reopening our gratitude journals because it’s been so long. Shame perpetuates the cycle.

Here’s how you can break it.

3 Tiny Steps to Get Back to Doing What’s Good For You

1. Combat the shame by reaching out.

Shame says things like, “what the hell is the matter with you?” and “maybe you’re just lazy” and “everyone is tired of hearing about my problems that I’m not doing anything about.”

The best way to shut that shame up is to tell someone about it. Shame is a gremlin that withers and dies when you shine a light on it.

Tell someone you trust that you are struggling. Tell them it’s hard, and that you’re scared, and that you don’t know what the heck is going on. Ask them to listen without helping.

2. Focus on direction, not distance.

The more time we spend not doing what makes us happy, the farther we imagine the journey back to it must be. That’s a myth. In truth, happiness is not a destination but a direction in which you travel.

The moment you turn around, you are already back on track.

But here’s the thing about turning around: a significant force is required to change direction. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that once you get turned around, it will take much less effort to keep moving towards the light. That’s physics.

Keep telling yourself:

point towards happiness

3. Do one small thing before you feel better.

Exercise, eat healthy, go outside, do yoga, keep a gratitude journal, call a friend, take a walk… SO! MANY! OPTIONS!

A long list of potential lifesavers can become the weight that drowns you. Think smaller.

Pick one thing today you can do to move towards the light. Pick the easiest thing: the one item on your to-do list that will require the least amount of effort but still earn the satisfaction of a checkmark.

Have faith that will be enough.

Remember that you are only changing direction, and each small action is a degree you’re turning. Every degree counts.

You can do this.

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