A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the people you should avoid when you’re feeling down. You might know them as the narcissist, the pessimist and the attention seeker. Well just as there are people we should avoid when we’re depressed, there are those you should keep around.
I know when depression hits (or when you’re not quite there yet, but slowly inching your way to the dreary, low energy fog that sucks up positivity and happiness like a sponge), the last thing you want to do is surround yourself with other people. But don’t think of it as an option, think of it as a life savor.
The healer is a therapist, doctor, pastor, life coach or a friend who is by nature a compassionate, supportive listener. Sometimes just being in their presence is enough to lift the dark shades on our soul and open us up to hope and possibility again.
The mentor is anyone who has been through similar or worst struggles than you and has survived it. The latter is key. If you commiserate with friends who are struggling with you, you’ll open the door to more pain, more misery and discover a sense of unity, but one over helplessness and despair. Instead enlist individuals who have walked the path of fire, lived through it and learned a valuable lesson in doing so. This is the tribe you need as an important support system in your life.
We all know someone who has a motherly or father demeanor. This person is a tremendous giver. Someone who looks after you as if you were one of their children. And you don’t have to be one of their own to reap the benefits of this type of relationship. In fact, you need not even befriend a nurturer in order to be healed by one. You can learn how to nurture and re-parent yourself by tuning into your needs and treating yourself with love, compassionate and kindness. None of us are perfect. If we can remember that and have compassion for who we are during our darkest moments, we will learn the tools necessary to rise above whatever pain we’re feeling in the moment and grow toward self-love.
Sometimes when these three people are not available, I also search for them in books (in heroic protagonists and memoirs) and also on television. Absorbing the positivity and strength of those around me is often enough to remind me that all of us go through hardship. That, in fact, to face difficulty is human.
But I also know that we are not meant to do it all on our own. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and to let loved ones help us when we’re in need is a gift to them as it is to ourselves. Let go of your shame in asking others for help. Get rid of the perfect facade that falsely gives off the impression that we can do everything alone. That’s how we strengthen our relationships, bring meaning into our lives and become strong for ourselves and others who in observing our vulnerability and inner courage will grow in our light.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a freelance writer who specializes in psychology and self-help articles. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and writes for several publications and websites.