But which app notifications should we disable, and how? Now that we've whittled down the number of apps on our phones, we can adjust our notification settings. This step took me about thirty minutes, but it was the most life changing. If you use an Apple iPhone, go to Settings and select the Notifications option, or if you're on an Android device, find the Apps section in Settings. From there, adjust each app's individual notification permissions to your preferences. Mindfulness is a skill that you can develop with practice. Begin by trying to make yourself more aware of the present moment without judging it as good or bad. Focus your full attention on what you are doing, on one thing at a time. Get fully involved in that moment. Notice when your mind wanders and bring your attention back to the moment. You can begin to practice this by setting aside five minutes a day to do a Mindfulness meditation (see below). You can also try to exercise Mindfulness as you go about your day. For example, when you brush your teeth, focus your mind on doing only that one task. Pay attention to your actions, to the taste, sensations, sounds, and so on. As your mind wanders, bring it back to the task of brushing your teeth in this moment. Try it again when you drive, wash the dishes, have a conversation, or during other moments of your life. Live with awareness of what you are doing instead of going through life automatically. Sometimes the intensity of depression is so deep, it feels like a crisis situation. You may feel a sense of urgency or a desire to act impulsively. You may feel there is no way out.

These feelings can interfere with your efforts to manage depression and maintain stability. Learning to tolerate distress for a short time can help you get through a difficult moment, when you cannot change the situation. Distress Tolerance strategies help you do this by using skills to distract yourself, soothe yourself, provide solace, and improve the difficult moment. These strategies are not a cure for the problems of life. They are not meant to dismiss the seriousness of your problems. Practicing Distress Tolerance is more like taking a break from your situation for a short while. Use these skills when you feel overwhelmed by your depression. Eventually the intensity of the moment will fade away. With depression, speaking up and advocating for yourself can be hard to do. You may feel that your needs, feelings, or opinions are not important or deserving. However, symptoms of depression can worsen if you hold things inside when you are upset and don't talk about what you want and need. This can also lower your self-esteem. It is important to communicate clearly and effectively so that the other person really hears you. Your style of communication determines whether and how your message is received. Communication styles can be described as aggressive, assertive, passive, or a combination (passive-aggressive). An aggressive communication style is dominating, with yelling, threats, and anger. It is not effective. Aggressiveness tends to alienate the other person, making him or her defensive. You don't accomplish what you want with this communication style, and you don't feel good about yourself. A passive style, where you remain quiet and submissive, is also not effective.

When you are passive, you don't speak up to make your needs and wants known. When you do not speak up and advocate for yourself, you run the risk of doing and becoming what the other person wants you to do and be. Your needs and wants are not met. The other person responds in a way that is not in your best interest, and you do not accomplish your goals. You then have no control over what happens to you and often feel worse about yourself. Being assertive means that you stand up for yourself in a calm, confident manner. You express your beliefs, opinions, wants, and needs effectively and do what you believe is right. With this communication style, you have a greater chance of being able to negotiate what you want and need. When you are assertive, you feel better about yourself for stating what you want, need, or feel. Self-esteem improves, and you have an increased sense of control over what happens to you. Apply the criteria of authenticity to these responses, your anger, and your perception. For example, suppose you believe that your parent harmed you by failing to praise you enough, that life was never a joy as you grew up. Is that thought true? It may very well be. They in fact may have cheated you of praise and, therefore, your critical thinking meets the first criteria. But remember that forgiveness of those who have transgressed against you, or those you love, is not about them, it is about you. It may be true that they hurt you in some way. There is certainly nothing nonauthentic about acknowledging that you were hurt. I am not asking you in any way to try and sweep that under the rug or pretend that it didn't happen. I'm not even asking you to trivialize it and tell yourself it wasn't that big a deal.

On the other hand, you must also ask: How much have you hurt yourself by maintaining your anger? Do these thoughts serve your best interests? They are useless for any satisfaction against your parent and definitely a negative burden for you. As a result, your perceptions and reactions fail the second standard of authenticity and, therefore, should be rejected. Does your unforgiveness advance and protect your health? Clearly, no. Anger and vengeance eat away at the body, as they do the soul. Once again, the thoughts fail a test of authenticity. So in other words, what you're telling yourself is true, but it is not in your best interest and does not advance and protect your health. As to the fourth prong of the authenticity test, it should be clear that continuing to haul around a heart full of bitterness will not get you what you want. Therein lies the power of forgiveness. Something did in fact happen to you, but you still, in the interest of yourself, must lay it down and move on. By contrast, a belief that can survive and pass authenticity testing would be the belief that you are in control of the quality of your emotional life and that no one can lock you into a destructive bond where they control you. You can make a choice, consistent with your authenticity, to block any attachment to these people through hatred, fear, or resentment. You can resist giving any energy to them through your self-talk. Consider the technique used by Native American tribes to punish abusive behavior: The whole tribe simply disconnected from the offender, refusing to acknowledge his or her presence. He or she was made "invisible." Of all possible responses, this response was the worst punishment imaginable. Instead of responding to him or her with the rage of unforgiveness, thereby giving the offender more power, there was a total detachment. They reserved their energy for more important things. That's the freedom and release I'm talking about when I talk about forgiveness.

Withdraw your investment of energy from the perpetrators in your life and they will wither and disappear from your radar screen. The objective of the MER, then, is to clean up your self-concept. If your internal responses are cleaned up and your lenses of perception are clear, instead of causing you to react impulsively with angry, exaggerated, and inappropriate reactions, your self-concept will move you toward constructive behaviors that get you more of what you want and less of what you don't want. Remember what has led you down the path of pain and distraction: It is the various negative external events, and your internal reactions to those events, that have pulled you away from your authentic self. These events are the door dings; these are the potholes; these are the collisions of life that have created damage to the "vehicle of you" and buried your authentic self below a rotting heap of life-experience garbage. In order to get back to your authentic self, you must make sure you clean up all of the unfinished emotional business that is contaminating your current life and view of yourself. Clean the lens on that projector that we talked about. Hit the focus button and get the image of yourself back to clear and sharp once again. Customize an indistractable auto-reply using Apple's Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. It's worth noting that reclaiming your phone's external triggers does require a bit of maintenance. For instance, every time we install a new app, we need to adjust its notifications permission settings. The good news is that Apple iOS and Android are both planning to make the process of modifying notifications easier in upcoming updates to their respective operating systems. There are many things you can do to remove the unwanted external triggers on your phones. As powerful as the app makers' tricks may be, they are no match for removing, replacing, rearranging, and reclaiming the apps that don't serve you. By taking a fraction of the time you would otherwise spend getting distracted by your phone, you can customize it to eliminate unhelpful external triggers. A distraction-free mobile experience is well within your grasp. There's no reason you can't hack back. You can hack back the external triggers on your phone in four steps and in less than one hour. Apparently, there's no correlation between the mayhem on one's computer and the adventure in one's life. Anyone can find themselves swamped with desktop clutter.