Hi, I’m Paul Krismer your happiness expert.
Holy cow! Things can be so tough in our lives. Mine sometimes too, and I get it. There can be a lot of pressure and there’s so many things to worry about. I mean the environment, the stagnant economy, or the poor wage inflation. Terrible things! Maybe you’ve got relationship issues. Maybe there’s some health concerns. There’s so much we can worry about and feel depressed about and I get it. What if the very skillful techniques that your therapist knows are things you could do for yourselves?
Look, legal disclaimer: I’m not suggesting anybody shouldn’t stay with their psychologist or their doctor if they’re getting treated for depression.
But I am going to give you some insight into what the very best research shows about the very best kinds of therapy that we know can bring some relief to depression. So stay tuned for that. As a coach public speaker and best-selling author, I teach topics just like this one all around the world. So stay tuned and I’ll give you practical tools that you can use to make both yourself and those around you both happier and more successful. So the very best therapy we know to treat depression is talk therapy— that is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is really the process by which a psychologist generally treats depression and they do it by asking questions that cause the patient to (you in this case) to see your attitudes and beliefs as causative of the emotions and behaviors that you experience. So when we can see our beliefs and our thoughts that create the emotions and then influence our behaviors, we get clearer about how to get out of those thoughts and beliefs so that we have different emotions and different behaviors. So for example, if I did poorly on an exam at school- say “Oh I failed this test. I’m so stupid. Like I can’t believe it.
I’m never gonna get through this academic program and my life really sucks.” That’s a pretty negative thought spiral isn’t it? We go downhill in a in a hurry. We get these feelings and these behaviors that a well-trained therapist is gonna try to challenge these kinds of thoughts and beliefs, so that we can have alternative thoughts and behaviors. So one of the greatest scholars that I am a big fan of, is this gentleman— his name is Martin Seligman and he’s the granddaddy of the positive psychology movement. He teaches something we call the three P’s. Basically, it’s cognitive behavioral therapy that one can do for oneself. So I want you to learn this stuff. It’s really great, when you become aware of a negative thought you simply need to rationally explore and test the truthfulness of this thought. Because 99% of the time our most negative thoughts are exaggerated and they’re disconnected from an objective reality. So by asking three very specific questions we can start seeing these thoughts in a much more accurate way and we can eliminate the lies and the resulting horrible feelings that stem from those lies. Pretty cool, huh? Okay. There’s three specific questions: The first one is: is this outcome, the circumstance personal? Is the problem you, is it your character?
And is that your actions alone that are causing this thing or were there outside factors? This is a case of personal blame versus an objective consideration of the circumstances. That’s question number one. The second question is permanence. Is thinking that this bad situation is going to last forever true? Or in fact are these setbacks that you’re experiencing temporary. When you think that they are temporary, you’ve improved ability to see the way out and it gives you motivation to adapt your behavior for future circumstances.
The third question is around pervasiveness. Is your entirety of your existence challenged by this bad thing that happened or is it only applicable in this one area of your life now? Obviously people who think that their bad situations are pervasive and they impact all their lives, will be very negatively impacted. If you can see it as something that only affects one part of your life, then there’s lots of hope that says the other parts of my life are working fine. Oh, I failed this test. Is it personal? Am I stupid? I’m a terrible at math or is it impersonal? Did I have work the night before and I didn’t study adequately or was the teacher someone who I didn’t really relate to? I didn’t get their teaching style and by asking these questions maybe we can avoid this very personal statement, and the worst of it maybe I conclude I’m stupid and that would be horrible. That goes to the second questions.
This conclusion that it’s permanent. I’m stupid. That’s a permanent state. And then finally, is it pervasive? Am I failing in all parts of my life just because I failed in this exam? Well, obviously that’s not gonna be the case. There’s other qualities of my life that are working. You know it okay, and it’s not pervasive on all things. And so that gives me a little hope that my life isn’t so bad. It’s not like “I failed my test. I’m stupid.” “I’ll never get through my program. My life is gonna turn out horribly, right?” That would be the wrong way to think. That drives emotions and behaviors that makes us depressed. We can use other examples. What about a relationship break up. That’s sadly common for a lot of us. If we ask ourselves— is this personal or the impersonal quality? Well, it always takes two people. There’s aspects of this relationship that weren’t all about just what I did. Unless it was and then that’s it takes a different bit of self-reflection. But usually there’s something else going on. There may be circumstances. You have to go away for work or whatever.
Is it personal or is there an impersonal quality? Is it permanent? Oh, I broke up with this person. And I’m so sad. Well, I managed to find a person so it’s highly likely I’ll be able to find somebody else in the future. It’s not a permanent situation. I can have hope that I’ll move on and find somebody maybe who’s a better fit for me.
And is it pervasive? Is my whole life broken because of this and it may feel like it at the time but most likely it’s specific to this element of my life. I may still have a good job. I may still have some good friends. I may still have some talents and and abilities that help me move forward in my life in other ways. This one specific thing is not working out— this broken relationship. Does that make sense? So if we can do our own cognitive behavioral therapy essentially by asking these three questions we can get a lot of relief from the depressive thoughts and attitudes that can bring so many of us down on this negative spiral that leads to great depression.