Is it true that by thinking it so, I can be anyone I want to be?
Or is it that I can be any way I want to be? Or is it that I can think anyway I want to think? So many choices and all have their merits and drawbacks. I suppose that being anyone I want to be could imply that I am thinking a certain way. Having a specific attitude would create a certain look, feel, and response to events.
And responding to events in a particular way means I have chosen a certain attitude.
In the end, this is all I can control. If I want to think I am the perfect grandfather, then I will act in a certain way. Then, if I want to be an aloof observer of interactions by family members, then I can be that, too. Or I can jump in and share my two cents about whatever the topic of conversation is.
So, was I thinking I would just jump in and share?
Maybe I was, but I see myself holding back and not fully committing to sharing my thoughts. Maybe I am just out of practice. My adult working life in management has shown that while honesty is always the best policy, there are many ways, to be honest.
Remember, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
And it is not what you say, but how people hear it that matters to them. Just because you said yes, does not mean that they heard yes. And their idea of a positive outcome could be far different than your idea. Asking clarifying questions can help get their ideas to mesh with what you said.
Having them repeat it back to you gives them a chance to let you know that they know what you said.
But what I am trying to understand is why I am less than enthusiastic about engaging others. What is it that keeps me from being more open and honest with my feelings? I can see in my mind what I want to say. And I can even picture myself saying it. It’s like I am playing it out in my mind as a dress rehearsal. But when it comes to saying it out loud, I freeze.
Nothing comes out but air.
So perhaps being more open and engaging in conversations is not what I really want. If being open and sharing was really my goal, then I would find a way to do this. Anything I put my mind to I have achieved. I have not always thought through what I was going to do when I achieved the goal, but that was not important.
Setting a goal and then achieving it was and is still the number one objective.
Sorting through what achieving that goal would mean is not important. Nor is it something I spend a lot of time contemplating. The goal is the prize and it absorbs all of my time and thoughts. Ok, there are times when I know what achieving a goal means to me. And I do work on these goals with the same enthusiasm as I do where the result is more important than what comes next.
One thing I can say about myself is, if I set a goal, I achieve it.
Some goals take longer than others to achieve. It took 15 years from the time I decided I would climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa until I finally did it. I began collecting material for my first book ten years before I began writing it. And it took me 7 ½ years to graduate from college. I stopped once because I didn’t know what I wanted to major in and once because I ran out of money. Achieving each goal helps reinforce my perception that I can do anything.
And this was true right up until I decided to face my depression.
My goal was certainly not to live with depression. The whole idea of having a lifelong relationship with depression was foreign to me. And my attitude was that I was not that guy. It was someone else. I had no need for a sidekick, especially one that would occasionally lead me into the abyss.
But it turns out I was never consulted about the decision.
I have depression. In fact, I have a major depressive disorder with suicidal tendencies. MDD for short. This acknowledgment only took me 45+ years to come to grips with. My plan, such as it was, included not saying the words depression. In fact, the plan for my depression was to have no plan. If I didn’t face my depression, then it did not exist.
And I did not face my depression for the majority of my life.
Changing my attitude was possible for me only when I realized that I was doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Now that’s crazy. The morning I faced the reality of having depression, I saw only three choices. As I have said many times before; I could end it all, I could do the same things again while expecting a different result, or I could seek professional medical help.
Thinking differently and facing my depression was the hardest choice I have made.
But now some four years later, I am proud of myself for finally having the guts to face myself and my depression. Doing this has left me with many unanswered questions. I am attempting to understand “why me?” And then I am looking at why it took me 45+ years to finally admit I have depression.
This leads to what am I doing to head off future episodes.
Even as my attitude towards my depression has shifted, I am still hesitant to share this with the world. This seems silly, but the fear of stigma leaves me in a semi-open status. After all, I have written in a public blog, 530 posts about my depression. And I have left many breadcrumbs along the way.
But I have not changed my attitude enough to say to people I know that I have depression.
So clearly, I have some work to do. As they say, I am not getting any younger. And no one has ever identified who “they” are. But I am afraid to say to the world I have depression because of what they might say.
Changing my attitude toward what they might say is my next goal.
And I know once I have set a goal I will achieve it. It has been almost 4 years since the goal became a reality for me. This means I only have another 6 to 11 years before it becomes reality.