If you have ever been out walking or hiking in nature, you will know that your view changes depending on where you are. The same mountain can look very different from one side compared to the other, and whether you’re at its base, its summit, or partway up.
Likewise, if you think of being ungrounded or depressed as a hole, with the depth of the hole reflecting the degree of ungroundedness or the severity of the depression, obviously your perspective is going to be very much affected by how deep in the hole you are.
The reason that this is so important is that people have a natural tendency to trust themselves. Normally, of course, self-trust is a very important and healthy thing. The problem is that when we are ungrounded or not well, it is the upset or the depression, the anxiety, or the hypomania, etc. that is giving us cues, and not our true grounded selves. And the illnesses or ungrounded state give distorted cues that are not to be trusted.
For example, someone with severe depression, who is very deep in the hole, is going to likely have strong and frequent or constant feelings and thoughts of hopelessness. Down so deep and far away from the surface, he can perceive no light. In fact, on the surface the sun can be shining brightly. But deep in the hole it is pitch darkness. Likewise, there is hope for this individual’s life, but he cannot feel any hope these days because of the severity of his depression. If he trusts the profound hopelessness and believes that there is no hope, he may end his life. This is very tragic, because his life would have improved if he had continued to live and gotten the help he needed. When people are better, they report that the suicidal thoughts disappear, and that it’s hard to relate to how they used to feel.
People who I see who are suicidal will inevitably admit that they had felt like that before and it had passed, so I remind them that it will pass this time too.
Hopelessness and despair are not the only negative feelings that are more prevalent with being deeper in a hole. All negative feelings are more prevalent and more intense with greater severity of depression. So when one is very fearful or worried, pessimistic, mistrustful, guilty, or feeling not got enough, these too are because one is too deep in the hole. Because one can’t see clearly there, one shouldn’t be too trusting of these negative feelings and thoughts, and make decisions based on them. One needs to be logical, and trust what he knows to be true even though he cannot feel it. He can trust that he will be able to feel it when things are better, and he’s no longer so deep in the hole.
The Anxiety Hole
The main untrustworthy negative feelings with anxiety are fear, worry, and guilt. I saw a man with OCD who was too scared to start medication to treat it even though he had had a positive experience with it in the past. Despite us working on his fear, starting the medication was delayed by the fear. After he started the medication and was feeling better, he had no concerns about taking the medication, even though he was on a higher dose by then. Of course, his other fears were also no longer a problem. The same is true of pregnant women with anxiety. Once they are responding to the treatment, they are OK, but the challenge is to get them started when the anxiety is making them too fearful.
Knowing that the fear is untrustworthy because one is deep in the hole, one can mistrust the fear and make good decisions.
The Hypomania Distortion
When one is in a state of hypomania or mania, the untrustworthy distortions go along with overly positive and unrealistic feelings. Rather than a hole, we might liken this to being above the ground, and not being able to clearly see the real dangers that exist on the ground. A person in this state might be overly optimistic and carefree, and feel overly confident, superior, impulsive, and invincible while having impaired judgement. Obviously this can cause problems because of bad decisions, whether it’s spending more than one can afford, or not being concerned about breaking the law.
The Human Hole
Even without any illness at all, as humans we all get ungrounded. Everybody has a personality that has issues, sensitivities, or buttons. The more we grow and heal, the more we shrink them, and the less easily we get “upset” or worked up. The more self-aware and honest with ourselves we become, the more we can recognize our patterns, and when we are ungrounded. We can get feeling inappropriately afraid, angry, hurt, guilty, overly suspicious, overly responsible, judgemental, judged, defensive, lonely, victimized, ashamed, attacked, and so on. All these types of feelings indicate being ungrounded, unless one is afraid because an actual danger exists. In this case, the fear is adaptive. Also, calm sadness due to some type of loss, and compassion, are grounded. It is important to be aware of how grounded or ungrounded we are so that we know how much to trust our reactions, and so we can make wise choices about our behavior.
It’s very important to adjust our driving and speed to very blizzardy or foggy conditions. Likewise if we are irritable because of some pain or stress, it is good to be aware of it and not take it out on our partner. Knowing ourselves and our sensitivities helps us discern when our reaction might be exaggerated and wiser to handle with some inner work rather than asking others to change their behavior. When we are very angry, it is wisest to reflect on our feelings, needs, and requests then talk calmly to the person involved when we are able to do so. This results in much less damage all around then blasting them with our rage, which usually leads to escalation, with everyone and the relationship getting hurt and needing repair.
So take the time to look around and see where you are before assuming that your vision is clear and your perceptions are to be trusted. That way you can be more in control of yourself and your life rather than being led around by all your reactions, regardless of how untrustworthy they are. By all means accept all your feelings without judgement. But NEXT ask yourself honestly whether they are trustworthy or not. Don’t be ashamed to admit to yourself that your feelings are untrustworthy. That only makes you human. And being honest with yourself, and others, is something to be proud of. Your humility and honesty will be appreciated by others, and will result in respect, not judgement. They will invite others to trust you more, and you will enjoy more harmony in your relationships.