Thursday, 2 February 2012

Help someone else when you feel helpless: A quick fix for feeling better

Hello Conquerors and welcome to Thursday night!

I hope you have had a fantastic week - I didn't saddle you with a Weekly Challenge this time, but don't fret my friends, another is surely on its way! Look forward to February 5 - 11 Weekly Challenge, posted on Sunday!

What I'd like to discuss today is the act of altruism: that is, helping others without any expectation of returned favours.

When you are feeling depressed or anxious, the tendency is to become very self-focused (in very negative, defeating ways). This can have disastrous outcomes (as explained in The Downward Spiral).
The world becomes increasingly smaller as all you are focused on resides in our heads... This has very real physical feelings as well - it feels as though your body is being crushed on the inside, or you might get that sinking feeling in your stomach or chest...

The outcome is that you start analyzing, and picking yourselves apart... Any of the 13 beliefs to disbelieve may play a part in a negative-bias towards yourselves, as well.

A very quick and effective way to take the heat off of yourselves and free our minds from the torment of constant judgment is to genuinely help someone else, or offer an honest compliment. Showing interest in other people takes the focus off yourself and making someone's day is extremely rewarding.

The feeling of being helpful lets you realize that some or all of the beliefs you may harbour are untrue - being a helpful person means you are not a bad person... It is empirical evidence against the negative voice in your head.

So the next time you are feeling the grip and dark clouds of depression or anxiety, acknowledge your own issues. Do not dwell, however. Move towards helping someone else - whether it be by volunteering to mow an older neighbour's lawn, or doing extra work at your job for a colleague. Anything that is genuine will work.

Do not expect a favour in return: in order to become stronger people you must strive to consider others and their feelings as well as your own. Acknowledging your pain is how you consider yourself; helping others is how you act to show you are a capable, caring person.

Volunteering is a great way to give back. You can volunteer with the SPCA, or with a local homeless shelter, for example.  

Warning: If you find yourself over-extending your assistance to others (including friends) and are starting to feel used, pull back and reconsider if perhaps you are suffering from the cognitive bias I am only worthwhile as long as I am doing something for someone else. (Letter E on the list).

Helping people is not the cure for depression or anxiety but it helps in the short-term for creating a sense of well-being. Helping others and volunteering can become part of a healthy way of living, and everyone can strive to give back to their community in some form.

Conquer on!

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  1. If I could met someone like you I would find reasons to be depressed. jejejej!
    Mmmm... Do you have some academic resources to support this thing? I have also practiced helping a little, and do know it works, as I was diagnosed Bipolar. I remember once I watched a video on psychologists helping depressed people by taking them to help others. I know if you are depressed you are self-centered; then if you realise by asking others of their emotions, passions, thoughts, etc... it all changes. But, again, do you have some certain videos or academic stuff? Thanks a lot!

  2. Hello and welcome :)

    I resource reliable psychological articles or biological references when necessary. Most of the advice I supply is modified from anxiety and depression courses I have completed (not academically, but functionally).

    If you are depressed, you are not necessarily self-centered, but you may become so as your pain warrants increased attention. There is truth that by putting your attention on external things in your life it may decrease the feelings of depression inside.

    There are many reliable academic websites out there (seek for peer-reviewed articles using google scholar).

    I hope I have been helpful! If you have any more questions, or video suggestions or comments, please feel free to comment again :)

    Thank you for reading, and Conquer On!