Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: On Protecting Your Innocence and Staying Focused

stay focused.jpg
“Why do they hate me? What did I ever do?” Eric said to me yesterday as I grabbed a cup of coffee. He had spent the morning reading my reviews of Beyond Blue on
“Who hates you?” I asked him.
“Your readers … Some chick said she wanted to throttle me at some points throughout the book….I think I came across as quite supportive,” he said.
“You did. You are…. I don’t know why she said that. Ignore her.”
“I can see why you get so depressed when you read that kind of criticism every day,” Eric said. “It can’t help but affect your mood.”
Writing and speaking publicly on such a controversial topic as depression is certainly good practice for thickening one’s skin and erecting a Berlin wall around the most vulnerable parts of your heart, all the while speaking and writing from that very place.
It always hurts most when sharp criticism comes from a relative or good friend, of course. That’s when I find it hardest to pick up the pieces and start writing or speaking again.


You need to summon the same kind of concentration and focus as when you are doing a satellite television appearance.
Even though there is a talking head on a TV screen next to the camera, you can’t look there. You have to imagine that the lens of the camera you are speaking into is the face of the person to which you are speaking. Like most things, it takes some getting used to because it’s counterintuitive. The first time I did it, I was extremely nervous and distracted. I was like Cindy Brady in that episode of the Brady Bunch where she was spellbound staring into that red blinking light. The last time I did it, though, I was finally able to put my imaginary binders on, and have an animated dialogue with the camera lens.
Spiritual author Henri Nouwen speaks of protecting one’s innocence, keeping the spiritual blinders on. He writes, “Your innocence as a child of God needs to be protected. Otherwise, you will easily be pulled out of your true self and experience the devastating force of the darkness surrounding you.” He advises us to watch our thoughts and feelings and identify which ones come from our true selves, and which ones come from the powers of evil. Says Nouwen:


Do not trust your thoughts and feelings when you are pulled out of yourself. Return quickly to your true place, and pay no attention to what tricked you. Gradually you will come to be more prepared for these temptations, and they will have else and less power over you. Protect your innocence by holding on to the truth: you are a child of God and deeply loved.

For me that means to begin each day in prayer, asking God for the guidance to write and speak from my heart and asking his protection over my heart so that it doesn’t get bitter, jaded, or too damaged by criticism. It means asking his help in hearing the voice of my true self, so that I don’t get pulled into the distraction surrounding it–and that I remain shielded by destructive feedback that could weaken or destroy my mission of hope.


Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Elizabeth

    I love your book! In fact, I consider it to be one of the most helpful self-help books I’ve ever read! Right up there with Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go!
    You are an inspiration and I really admire you.
    I’m glad you told your hubby to ignore those comments because from what you wrote in your book, he seems like a wonderful and supportive husband!

  • David

    I will just say this…God works in mysterious ways..and what we consider to be impossible is always possible with God….and He never gives us more than we can bear…He guides us..shapes us..prepares us for any test and loves us unconditionally!
    we can’t lose!:)

  • Bobbi

    Dear Eric and Therese,
    I have not read your book yet BUT I will. Every time I make the time to read your blog or articles, I thank God for you both…you Therese for using your life and your words to give others hope and you Eric for supporting Therese and showing us how to support our loved ones with Bipolar or any mental illness. Hate you? No way, Thank you, thank you both for sharing your lives to help others and PLease have NO doubt, you help, save, and bless all who have been lead to you both (there are no coincidences). God Bless you and your family and know we are blessed by you both. Thank you, I SO needed the “12 things to keep going”, which lead me to today’s blog, like I said, no coincidenses. Thank you! xoxo

  • Curiosity

    You are a brave woman indeed. I have enough trouble stopping myself from agonizing over the things that I let out on my quasi-anonymous and barely read blog.
    The more we all get out there, though, the better, I think. Too much of depression is stigma and hiding as it is. Kudos to you.

  • Ryan

    A powerful post. It’s important to remember that it’s always about them. It’s not about you. Your viewpoint has challenged their belief system. When a deeply held belief system is challenged the natural reponse of many is to lash out.
    I like to perform a sun-moon meditation throughout the day. This helps to keep me in the moment, and when fully present no matter how rough the criticism the barbs sail by like arrows which are off the mark.

  • Jacqueline R.

    I read Therese’s book and am devoted to her column. It has helped me more than words can say. And I have to tell you that you have ALWAYS come across as a wonderfully supportive and loving husband. Always. So if some knuckle-head out there reads it in some way that leads her to want to throttle you — ignore her is right because it’s not “true”. As I tell my nieces when they get hurt by the words of others, People can say anything they want to, it’s a free country. That doesn’t mean it’s true. You know what is true, so just remember the truth and leave the Not-truths (that’s kid-speak) behind.
    You and Therese have always come across to me as a very devoted and mutually supportive couple. Would that I have met a man like you. Therese knows that (read her book!) and so do many many women and friends out there.
    So remember, people can say anything they want, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

  • Barbara Bowman

    What Jacqueline R said. Eric, you have always come across as a great guy in Therese’s posts, and certainly in her book. What would she do without your steadiness? From all I’ve read, I’d say that Therese takes a lot of comfort from your strength.

  • John McManamy

    Hey, Therese. Several months ago, I came across a juicy factoid that said for marriages to work, each partner needs something like 5 positive experiences to counter the 1 negative one. And that’s just for “normal” people in “normal” relationships. Imagine what it’s like for us depressive types. Our brains are constantly filtering out the good news and locking into the bad.
    So maybe we need at least 50 good experiences to counter the one bad one. And this probably applies to all aspects of life, such as putting a book out there.
    Ten people you really respect can say great things about you. Then along comes some a-hole you don’t know. Guess what your brain does.
    Don’t worry. It happens to me, too.
    We are writing for a very tough audience. These are people like us who are desperately looking for answers and can spot a phony from miles away. Making the connection is the greatest experience in the world – like nailing a very difficult landing.
    But we’re also dealing with people who emerged hostile from out of the womb. Add to that your observation that we’re dealing with a very controversial topic. You’d think we were all in the same boat together, but, no, people have agendas and unresolved personality issues. So we wind up getting stung.
    I’ve tried to adopt a Buddhist Middle Way approach to it. I’m gratified by good feedback but I try not to make too much of it, as otherwise I’m setting myself up for the inevitable stinger. I can’t say I’m terribly successful at this, but I have found over the years the less energy I spend trying to please people the happier I am (and paradoxically the more people I please).
    But we also find ourselves in the role of the stinger. Part of my job is to debunk agenda-pushers who flagrantly disregard the facts. Last month I did this to someone I know very well. Not easy.
    Fortunately, I follow some of my own advice. I’m not afraid to take “me” time. This is a hard job, the best in the world, but one that can leave you emotionally spent. Trust me, I know what you are going through. Anyway, please interpret this as the 50 positive comments you need to offset the inevitable a-hole out there. :)

  • robert s.

    Hi. Here’s how I deal with the inevitable bouts of depression. When Steinbeck’s Tom Joad said that we all share a piece of one big soul, I think he was right. For the longest time, people thought I was naive to be so generally upbeat and said so. Since I can remember, even my closest friends didn’t get how I could be so happy almost all the time. Sometimes, they would pry to find the dings in my ‘armor’ of happiness. They never found any. The reason I’m happy is because I’m alive. I’m not the most productive or insightful part of that big soul, but being aware that I am part of it gives me comfort. When I get depressed (and who doesn’t?), this philosophy gets me through the rough patches. I’m currently unemployed, under a mountain of debt and my professional credentials are old school non-profit stuff that nobody seems to value anymore. Still, my ability to smile isn’t a form of denial. On the contrary; it’s a sign of realization. That I’m the caretaker of a very small part of a very big soul. I can handle that. Maybe this thought can help someone else.

  • Your Name

    Therese — I totally agree with Jacqueline R! I devoured Beyond Blue, and never once thought that Eric was anything but a loving and supportive husband. It seems to me that you have a truly special and loving relationship. Tell Eric that not everyone hates him!

  • Your Name

    Teresa, Please tell Eric that I have read your book 3 times, read your blog every day, and never have I seen anything negative that he has done or said. I think he must be a wonderful husband and father. You are doing more good than you can ever imagine with your blog and your book. I’m telling everyone about them. By the way, Nouwen is one of my favorites, too.

  • Christine

    Wonderful post, tres bien Therese! It is something I needed to hear right now, especially that quote from Henri Nouwen. I need to stay true to my true self and not get pulled under by the tide. God uses you to help others and you never know how badly some need to hear what you have to offer. So put blinders up to the nah-sayers because there are a whole bunch more out there that love you. Keep up the good work!

  • Leslie

    Thank you, Ryan and John McManamy. Your comments are helpful.

  • Leslie

    Dear Robert S.,
    Thank you. Did Woody Guthrie write a song about a character named Tom Joad? That sounds familiar to me.

  • Your Name

    Thank you so much for what you said in the last few paragraphs of this article. I’m adding it to my daily prayer as well. It made my day. Thanks for the sunshine!

  • Sandra

    I just really want to thank you for this message. I to have been abused by criticism my whole life. I literally had to move away from my family and friends because of the abuse. Just to find myself here in a place where it is more of a magnitude of criticism and major jealousy.
    I now am in a place in my heart and mind that I have never been. Witnessing all the hate in the places that I’ve lived has opened my eyes to these types of people. And, that is that I have become to notice that these individuals are just screaming out for help their selves. The people that have harmed me in my life’s journey have really helped to overcome my own hate that I started to have for them. They have made me see these people needing forgiveness and prayer. So, now that is what I do I pray that these people I have come encounter with need as much prayer and forgiveness as the people who have claim to be good obedient christian’s. We all fall short of the glory of God. I just want to be able to help these types of people with all the hatred they have in their hearts, to notice that they to can change their evil wicked ways.

  • maria

    thank you. this was exactly what i needed to read today! can someone please tell me where i can find the henri nouwen quote?
    @leslie, tom joad is the main character in the grapes of wrath. springsteen, dylan, guthrie etc have all used him for inspiration.

  • JIll

    I don’t see anything negative that Eric has done or said, and I read your blog daily! :)

  • John A.

    I’m sorry to say but I haven’t read your book but I have been on this site practically everyday and it has helped me immensely. I know one puts themselves “out” there anytime they write or say something especially when it comes to mental well-being. I applaud any effort or to help ease another persons pain and all the contributors to this site have helped me. Thank you.

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.