Positive thinking can be useful for managing depression, but it can also be useless for many of us, as depression can shut up our brains from thinking positively. In this respect I'd like to share my experience of how to open our brains for positive thoughts to prosper in the midst of depression.
When we are clinically depressed, the brain's ability to maintain positive thoughts is biologically interfered. In those periods of time, telling the depressed to cheer up and be positive is the least helpful thing to do. It's like planting seeds upon rocks, all positive thoughts will not take root when they are presented to a depressed mind.
The seeds of positive thinking needs certain conditions to enter into our brain when we are depressed: MEDICAL TREATMENT and POSITIVE ACTION. We may have already been more than familiar with these two, but perhaps we haven't explore or try them enough that we didn't get the chance to make good use of them, at least in context of positive thinking. So please be patient to read on.
Some of us may be undergoing medical treatment, some may have never tried, and some may have tried and discontinued for some reasons. Whatever the preference or scenario, it's worth to note the constructive effect of medication on positive thinking.
Clinical depression not only shuts us up, it disturbs the harmony of our brains and distorts our thinking. When it strikes, what's on our mind may not be what we intend. In these moments, medication makes it possible for the brain to function harmoniously again, effectively preserving our intended thoughts. To draw the above farming analogy, medication plows the soil of our mind to allow the seed of positive thinking to take root.
But what if I've already tried many medications and they didn't work for my depression? In this case, please persist, and consider trying those options that are left. For when it comes to medication, it can be a very hit-and-miss affair, all we could do is to explore available options so as to raise the chance of success. With luck, we may be able to hit the right ones.
For those that are against medication or cannot tolerate their side-effects, consider legitimate non-medical alternatives: herbs, acupuncture or meditation etc, whatever that can till up the soil, even for a bit.
You may be disappointed by my suggesting those cliches, the good news is, whether medical or non-medical treatment is working for you or not, here comes the reinforcements: positive action.
To introduce positive thoughts into our brains, we can use action as a distraction to depression, which can sometimes work its magic even without the help of medication.
Just do something -- anything positive, anything good for yourselves or others -- the very moment you find yourselves in down mood.
Avoid lying or sitting, in stead, do things that make you move. Stretch, take a deep breath, smell a flower, chew a piece of gum, look out a window, drink some water, sing a song, recite a poem, say a prayer (loud), talk to a friend (loud, too), go out to visit someone that long to see you... and please remember, if you don't want to do such positive things, you have to force yourselves to do so, and keep doing them whenever opportunity arises. It takes will and effort, but the trick is simple: keep interrupting your down pattern and to uplift your emotion with a positive distraction.
This works because, though we may not be able to instantly change our emotion just by thoughts, we can regulate our emotion indirectly by changing our action using our will (action is under the more direct control of the will, whereas emotion is not). This way, emotion change can take place within minutes, although it may be slight. Hence, if we act positively, our mood could be uplifted, and when our mood is up, positive thought could find its place. In a nutshell, when our positiveness is not there, just move positively; talk positively and do anything positively as if positiveness were already there.
Each time we take a positive action in the midst of depression, we are tilling up a small bit of stubborn soil. If we keep doing it, the brain tends to function more harmoniously again. And if we can make positive action our habit, it is likely that the seeds of positive thoughts can take root in our brain, and bear fruit in the long run.
There are probably more ways to start thinking positively when we are depressed, but that's all for now, I've been too long-winded already :)