Shelly wore the face of a depressed person. She dragged her weary body across my threshold and plopped herself on my couch. "Life is too much," she said with exhausted breath. But as she continued, it became clear to me that she actually had too little life and an abundance of death.
Life and death are the energies that ebb and flow within our lives. A healthy person focuses on creating an abundance of life and minimizes the forces of death that sap their life energy. The fruits of life are love, joy, creativity, passion, movement, peace, community, and an outward focus to name a few. Some fruits of death are boredom, fatigue, anxiety, depression, addiction, lethargy, busyness without purpose, and a focus on self. We grow weary because of the death the reigns within us, our body, mind, and soul. We need more life!
The mistake is to think that life is achieved with little effort, that something is wrong if you must work for it. But nothing could be further from the truth. A hatchling fights its way out of shell. The baby sea turtle struggles towards the sea. The seedling struggles to find light. The woman labors in child birth. Nature testifies to the truth; life must be fought for. Consider the words of George MacDonald, "Let us in all the troubles of life remember that our one lack is life, that what we need is more life. When most oppressed, when most weary of life, let us remind ourselves that it is presence of death we are weary of. When most inclined to sleep, let us rouse ourselves to live. Of all things let us avoid the false refuge of a weary collapse, a hopeless yielding to things as they are. It is the life in us that is discontented. We need more of what is discontented, not more of the cause of its discontent. Discontent, I repeat, is the life in us that has not enough of itself."
Shelly allowed the chaos of a culture obsessed with finding life through soul killing pursuits to overwhelm her and produce the feelings of death. What she needed was a timeout to contemplate her life and the fruit it was bearing. I encouraged her to commit the next one to three months to an intense self-evaluation, determining the agents of death to be extradited from her life and the life-giving sources that needed to be nurtured and developed. I suggested a few things to help her focus this time.
First, prioritize times of solitude. This time is needed to think, contemplate, and tap into one's desires. Solitude is an unappreciated gift that fosters life. It natures the soul . Second, read and reflect. In the age of Google and Wikipedia, where everything is reduced to simple, quick snippets of information, much is lost by not reading deeply and reflecting for the purpose of life change. Since 2000, reading rates are quickly declining as people spend more time searching the web, texting, and socializing through mediums like Facebook. Nothing wrong with those as long as they are balanced by times of solitude and reading. Life can be fostered by reading books like Daniel Pink's Drive, Timothy Ferriss's The Four-Hour Work Week, and the classic Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Third, foster a spiritual life. Studies consistently show that persons of faith lead more balanced lives, experience less depression and anxiety, and are overall happier individuals. Spiritual teachings encourage altruistic living and purpose driven lives, things that have been shown to bear the fruit of life. Finally, ground yourself in nature. Use your five senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and feeling) to experience the life that is abundant in nature. It has the affect of grounding a person by enveloping a person into something larger than themselves. Nature absorbs the stress given off by an individual and gives back life.
Shelly realized that she needed to fight for her life, that death was overtaking her and slowly killing her. She prioritized solitude and made time for reading and reflecting in her journal. She found a church starting her day with Bible reading and prayer. Shelly also included her husband and kids in her new life pursuit by including them in weekly nature hikes. The next time she crossed my threshold, she was alive and full of joy and purpose. She had created the life she was looking for.
Christopher T. McCarthy, LPC (www.myanxiouschild.com)
Ref. George MacDonald (Edited by Michael Phillips)- Your Life in Christ: The nature of god and His works in the human heart. Bethany House, 2005.
Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com
Christopher T. McCarthy is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works in private practice and specializes in children, teens, parenting, and couples. He has 3 Masters degrees and is a PhD candidate. He is the co-owner of Informed Therapy Resources (ITR) with Psychologist Dr. David Russ. ITR is dedicated to providing quality resources to individuals who seek freedom from mental health challenges. Turnaround: Turning Fear into Freedom is a professionally developed, comprehension audio program for the treatment of child anxiety. It is highly entertaining for children, utilizing the talents of 14 child actors and 6 adult actors. It includes a 72-page journal and has been shown to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the symptoms associated with child anxiety. Many parents find it an excellent tool to facilitate dialog with their anxious child about his or her fears. For further information visit www.myanxiouschild.com.
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