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Feeling depressed? Get redirected

2,073 words

Depression is common. Understanding its core message is not. All feelings are trying to tell us something. Are you listening?

LEFT-RIGHT_kept_simple

Deep down, your body knows what you need. Your body reports your needs, prompting you to relieve them in some way. Often in most general terms.

You never need to decide when to draw in nutrition or fluids. Hunger and thirst naturally do that for you. Your body will even suggest what optimal food or drink to consume.

need-feeling-relief

Your options, of course, can be limited. Instead of finding time for a healthy breakfast, you get by all morning on a cup of coffee or two. You settle for what’s less than optimal.

Are you denying yourself what you emotionally need?

Such limited options spill over into other areas of your life. For example:

  • Instead of standing up for yourself, you feel powerlessly bullied into appeasing others.

  • Instead of boldly being your misfit self, you submit to social pressures to fit in as expected.

  • Instead of following your passionate pursuit for art, you accept family pressures to pursue a more pragmatic career.

  • Instead of pursuing your dream to start a side business, you resign to paying your hated bills from your hated job.

  • Instead of complaining about borderline sexual harassment at work, you hold in your doubts to avoid losing your job position.

  • Instead of confronting continuing abuses of authority, you keep silent to avoid reliving the trauma.

In short, you suck it up, and push forward. While your body keeps score.

Eventually, your body pushes back. Consider how your body would react if denied its intuitively determined direction. How would it feel if your body suddenly slammed on the brakes, to deny you this misdirection?

By intuition, I mean the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. When ignoring the informed direction of your body’s wisdom, to serve some reasoned expectations of others, you can expect a host of symptoms to complain about this apparent misdirection.

Symptoms reporting a misdirected life

1. You feel a growing frustration. Barriers to your life’s deeper direction understandably evoke frustration. That’s what frustration is for. To report unacceptable barriers.

If your intuition pulls you one way, while you’re pulled in an opposite direction to serve some questionable commitments—demanding family, bill collectors, contentious roommates, irate mother-in-law—then why wouldn’t you feel frustrated?

2. You lose concentration. Something continually yanks at your attention, struggling to get you to refocus. How long have you been concentrating on something for someone else?

Doing what you passionately enjoy requires little focus. It just pulls you in, letting the hours fly by. Stuck doing what you can’t enjoy may require more focus than your misdirected life can now afford.

3. You lose interest in once pleasurable activities. A deeply meaningful life can be most enriching. Missing cues to delve in deeply can can sap all the fun out of life.

Self-indulgent pleasures often provide a momentary distraction from lingering pain. But fail to fully fill that hole filled only by meaningful existence.

4. Your energy drains. Your body denies you misdirected energy down a self-disrespecting path. Fatigue pulls energy away from constantly pleasing others, against your own best interests.

Serving others who reciprocate in kind sustains itself. Serving the self-absorbed robs you of rejuvenation. So you feel your love tank run empty, and then the bottom falls out.

5. You become restless. Energy spent at odds with your meaningful existence feels intuitively wasted. Your best interests, sitting below your conscious awareness, pumps the brakes. Sometimes it takes you for a frightening ride.

tossed about at sea

Misdirection tosses you around like a little ship caught in a storm. While indeed alarming, your restlessness may actually pull you closer to safety. While restless you’re moving, not sinking in the storm.

6. You have trouble sleeping. Your circadian rhythm gets thrown off course. When denied its meaningful purpose, your life may find little reason to get out of bed.

Your energy is already drained. So you sleep in. Then find it impossible to sleep normally the next night. A misdirected life may find little reason to maintain a schedule for others. Especially if intuitively your body knows they don't support your neglected needs.

7. You feel guilty for some reason. Guilt reports a contradiction between what you believe you should’ve done and what you actually did. A misdirected life pulls you subconsciously to do more for yourself, despite your hardened commitments to others.

You may cling to the belief you should be doing more for others. But your body denies you the energy to fulfill these commitments. So you understandably feel guilty.

8. You feel hopeless. A meaningful existence can carry you through almost any calamity. Adjusting to a deep loss often involves finding some meaning in it, to carry on.

Hope provides you a bridge to carry you there, past all the pain in the frightening moment. When your meaning gets cut off, any loss can prove devastating. Hopelessness may be among life’s deepest pains to ever endure.

9. You feel an overwhelming emptiness. Finding your life’s purpose fills you with meaning. Gives you direction. Sustains you through the hardest of times.

Without such meaningful purpose, daily challenges can suck the life right out of you. Ending your life may seem preferable to such profound pain. Misdirection takes no prisoners.

Sound familiar?

You can now find a way out of our current toxic climate of political polarization. Think of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. Value Relating replaces our crumbling political conventionalities with a post-conventional alternative.

According to anakelogy, emotions convey needs, in more ways than one.

  • Emotions quickly alert you to some need that likely cannot wait, initially in most general terms.

  • Emotions typically prioritize your self-preservation; without the self then little else would matter.

  • Emotions ready you for a behavioral response, for relieving any urgent need.

Consider your bodily response to intuitively unacceptable misdirection.

  • You become vaguely aware that you no longer can function as easily as before.

  • Your body “depresses” your energies not meaningfully directed toward your own purposeful existence.

  • Your body pulls you to “redirect” your committed energies, back toward needed self-nurturing you likely neglected from imposing external pressures.

misdirection to redirection

In indigenous anakelogy, this is called redirection. It’s the natural bodily response to the problem of misdirection. Specifically, an intuitive reaction to a life pulled unacceptably off course from its meaningful existence.

By any other name

This “pressing down” aspect is merely the most plainly felt element in this natural process. The term “depression” replaced melancholia as a descriptor of these observable and self-reported symptoms. Without isolating its underlying need, it made sense to label it by its most striking feature.

I’m not claiming that all that gets labeled as depression must be redirection, as described here. Nor am I suggesting that such depression can be simply solved by redirecting your life toward some meaningful purpose. Depression has many predecessors.

There may be occasions of residual depression, where feelings of depression linger long after the underlying need has been redressed. Depression tends to be too complex for simple answers, especially those in want of critical testing.

When symptoms of major depression crash in, checking with a medical professional remains prudent. Or even contacting a loved one, for starters. Problems generally don’t care what you call them. Pain pricks by any name.

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