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In addition, remember that it's important to begin building up a reserve of inner strength. One good way of doing that is by training yourself to stick with your more difficult tasks as you encounter them. Part of a habitual procrastinator's persona is to change direction immediately after he's faced adversity. If this happens to you, do your best to fight off this feeling, and continue to stay on track with the task that you've chosen to complete. Let's pick up where our friend Barry, from Chapter Ten, left off. When we left him, Barry had just completed two tasks in the order in which he gave them to himself. list, Barry then gave himself a simple first task: putting a DVD away in its proper place. list. Barry then gave himself a second task, to look over a coupon that had come with a bill, before discarding it. list looks like this: In a real sense, this is a loaded question. As we've already seen in previous section, there are always going to be times when we start "feeling the blues." Whether due to grief, disappointment, or the inevitable setbacks that are a part of being human, nobody is going to be happy all the time. For people who have already experienced the often- crippling symptoms of true depression, it's perfectly natural to worry that the depression will return someday and that what seems like an ordinary case of the blues might become something far worse. While the recidivism rate for major depression is uncomfortably high (50 percent according to recent estimates), this does not mean that someone who has already experienced depression is doomed to relapse at some point. Some people may just be especially vulnerable to depression (due to genetics, other mental health problems, or an abusive relationship, etc.), but they can still learn to move on with their lives without experiencing new episodes. Even though the risk of relapse will never completely go away, anyone worrying about slipping back into their old self-destructive patterns of thinking and behaving should consider the following: First of all, the very act of surviving depression the first time around often means being much stronger as a result. In writing about his own battle with depression, author William Styron described it as being "mysterious in its coming, mysterious in its going, the affliction runs its course, and one finds peace." Resilience, which is usually defined as the ability to recover quickly from adversity, is a quality that is often found in trauma survivors. But it can also be seen in people who have faced depression and bounced back from it. Knowing that depression can be overcome is an essential part of surviving when the dark times return. What are your biggest obstacles to becoming the authority of your life? What are your personal health goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Do you trust your heart and believe that you will be successful? Have you made the commitment to empower your life? Make a list of your commitments and sign it. Are you willing to make discipline a top priority in your life? What actions have you taken toward becoming more disciplined? Name them. Have you scheduled an appointment with a healthcare professional regarding your overall health? List what your results are. Are you dealing with any emotional or stressful situations that you need to address? If so, have you contacted a healthcare professional to help you? What is your plan of action? List each aspect of the plan. What's your passion? Have you found it on your journey yet? Do you need to ban any old habits, people, places, or things from your life? List them and tell why you need to ban them. Have you identified what's been holding you back from becoming a healthier you? List whatever aspects apply, and write down how you plan to address them. What educational resources do you need from specialized professionals? What actions have you taken to master your thoughts with positive inspirational thinking?

Do you usually get a good night's sleep? How? If you do not, what's keeping you up at night? What actions have you taken to connect your body, mind, and spirit? In an experiment by Fredrickson, groups of people were shown different film clips. The first two groups were shown clips that created feelings of contentment and joy. The last two groups were shown clips that provoked feelings of fear and anger. Afterwards, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar negative or positive feelings would arise and to write down as many ways as they could think of that they could respond. Participants who had seen images of fear and anger wrote down a few responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take. A University of Toronto study even suggests that what we see can be affected by a positive or negative outlook; that positive or negative thinking can change the way our visual cortex - the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information - operates. The study showed that when in a positive mood, our visual cortex takes in more information, while negative moods result in tunnel vision. It would appear that seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses is more than a metaphor! Positive emotions and their associated positive thoughts open you up to new ideas and new experiences and possibilities. You feel positive about situations and other people. Ten years ago Lou worked for a local government authority. Here, he explains how his perspective differed from that of his colleague, Ned: My problem in the morning isn't waking up - the problem is the physical act of getting out of bed. I wake up and the lights come on, but nobody's home and I say f*ck it and go back to sleep. Sleepy Marc doesn't care about anything but sleeping. It's like another person altogether.

To fix this problem, I started something I call Advanced Mental Planning. I visualize, with extreme clarity and detail, the entire process of waking up, getting out of bed, and starting my day. If I just say, I'll get up, it won't happen. But if the night before, I clearly plan and envision the entire process of getting and staying out of bed, I do it 100% of the time. I prime and program my mind with the specific and detailed plans I want it to carry out. I clearly plan, visualize, and execute what will happen when I wake up: When alarm goes off, sit up, turn my entire body to the left, put both feet on the ground, stand up, pick up my phone with my right hand, unlock it, turn off the alarm by tapping the screen with my right thumb, take 5 steps to the bathroom, open the door with my right hand, turn on the light with my left hand, take 3 steps to the sink, turn left, turn on the cold water with my right hand, use both hands to scoop the water and splash it on my face, use the tips of my fingers on both hands to clean my eyes, turn the water off with my right hand, turn 180 degrees towards the towel, grab it with both hands, dry my face, turn 180 degrees back towards the sink, turn cold water back on with my right hand, open my left drawer, grab my toothbrush with my left hand, grab the toothpaste with my right hand, unscrew the cap with my pointer finger and thumb, set the cap down, put toothpaste on my toothbrush, and start brushing my teeth. Try it with anything you struggle with. It works. When you visualize your plan with extreme clarity, you make it more likely to happen. Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, Barry doesn't immediately take action upon his third task. Instead, he begins wondering if he's missing anything on television. And, unlike how he acted with his first two tasks, Barry now finds himself feeling paralyzed with anxiety, dread, and uncertainty concerning the task that he's just given himself. Even worse, Barry not only feels like the habitual procrastinator that, up until a short time ago, he always was; he worries he may have lost the magic he fleetingly possessed. First, although the task that Barry had given himself seemed as simple in his mind as it did on paper, insofar as reality was concerned, washing whatever was in the kitchen sink was always a task of last resort for Barry. In fact, Barry regretted writing it the moment he put down his pen. So, although he had written down what had seemed to him at the time to be a simple task, it was only after he'd written it that he realized that the task was actually a bit deceiving. However, what Barry hadn't realized was, that unlike his first two tasks, this was the first time he had written down a task that he didn't actually want to deal with. list) to practice (dealing with the actual task). Secondly, while the instruction seemed clear and precise, its wording: "Wash whatever is in the kitchen sink," was actually vague, which caused Barry to back away from the task. Even though the message might have seemed quite clear when he wrote it, Barry needed better instructions than, "Wash whatever is in the kitchen sink" and Barry was the only person who could give himself the kind of instructions that he needed.

Treatment programs such as CBT and IPT involve the teaching of basic coping skills that can be used to deal with new depressive episodes as they arise. This includes learning to control negative ruminations, maintaining a positive mind-set, and resolving interpersonal problems before they become toxic. Continue practicing these skills even after the treatment ends so that they can be used whenever the need arises. But these skills aren't simply for dealing with depression. We all encounter major life problems that can seem hopeless at times. Skills such as muscle relaxation, stress management, and cognitive restructuring can boost our general ability to cope with these new crises as they occur. People who have successfully completed treatment for depression already have a support network in place that they can use if they find themselves relapsing. This can include mental health professionals, family physician, local support groups, and family members who have been supportive in the past. Don't be afraid to use these resources as needed. Perhaps most importantly of all, do your best to maintain a hopeful outlook. That may seem impossible at times, especially if you're dealing with a traumatic loss or facing a life crisis, but always remember that "this too shall pass." The people we love and respect the most have a significant influence on the major decisions we make in our lives. They encourage us and are there for us during both the fabulous and the hard times. We all hope to experience the power of this type of love, support, and respect over a lifetime. But what if you are experiencing the total opposite, with signs of emotional, financial, or physical abuse? The consequences can be devastating and hazardous to your health. People who are themselves hazardous to our health can become major obstacles to our ability to become authorities on our lives. Could I have seen it coming? Could I have predicted the future? I can honestly answer no. But no one can predict the future.