30 Mar What Happened When I Used a Dodgy Sales Method on My Depression
Success is the sum of small efforts — repeated day in and day out. Robert Collier
I’m a weight loss coach. As such, my livelihood is contingent on my image as happy and wholesome. Clients are looking for inspiration to improve their lives, and I can only pass on what I’ve got myself.
Most days, I don’t have to fake anything. I’m feeling between good to great the majority of the time. It hasn’t always been that way: I was struggling with depressions for many years. It took a lot of personal development work to change that pattern, and to arrive at where I am today: mostly happy.
But there are factors beyond my control, and sometimes my “happy image” feels like a joke. Like a few days ago, when an abusive person from my past tried to contact me. I became a nervous wreck for days. As I’m writing this, I’m still trying to cheer myself up with re-runs of the Office.
It’s obviously important to heal trauma so that I won’t be wiped out by random emails. I’ve already booked myself to try a new type of treatment during my visit to Cape Town next month. (Ah, the glamour of travelling the world to try various ways to cope with mental issues!)
But that’s another topic. This post is to remind myself of the simple, yet crucial, things that I must do every single day to recover from low moods as quickly as possible. I learnt this philosophy from my sales career, and I think it has saved my life.
I got one of my first sales roles during my time at university in Sydney. My honorable task was to stop people on the street and try to convince them to sign up for various dubious memberships. It was one of those estimable pyramid scheme companies, where quitting could be followed by management’s murder threats.
Ethics aside, I can’t complain about my former employer’s sales training. Particularly one has stuck with me and helped me to figure out how to recover from my low moods.
It was a rainy day, unusually cold to be Sydney. My sales team was meeting in the conference room for a quick boost of morale before hitting the streets. Our manager made us stand in a wide circle, and take turns in naming successful people. I remember superstars like Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs and Madonna mentioned.
Next, our manager asked what all of these accomplished people had in common. The answer he was looking for was: they did not let any external or internal conditions get in the way for their daily success routine. Tiger Woods practices his golf swings every single day, no matter if the sun is shining or not — and that is what has taken him to the top of his game.
Needless to say, our manager was trying to convince our commission-only team that harassing strangers in the rain all day could have the upside of future fame and stardom. I can’t remember if I made any money on that miserable day, but the lesson learnt is priceless.
During my years of battling with unstable moods, I identified the activities that were the most helpful in making me feel better. I now have a list of three things that I have committed to do every single day — rain, hail or sunshine.
Before my mood boost list, my solution when feeling down was to comfort eat. Trying to stuff down my emotions with chocolate and ice cream only made me feel worse. My mood could quickly spiral out of control and sometimes, it was scary.
That is why my daily wellbeing habits are so important to me: because I don’t want to be miserable longer than necessary. (The abusive email that I received was bad enough, I don’t want diarrhea on top of it.)
What is on your daily list for picking yourself up when feeling down?
My daily mood boost list:
1. Make my bed. Low moods often mean feeling useless and lethargic, whereas making my bed first thing in the morning gets me into action-mode.
2. Drink a Bulletproof Cup of Coffee. It’s easier to deal with challenges when feeling satiated and energetic.
3. Write a gratitude list. Like attracts like, so I must force myself to acknowledge the positives.
To remember when feeling down:
1. Everything passes. The Happiness Trap suggests that we should view feelings like the weather: sometimes it’s rainy, sometimes it’s sunny. It’s natural, and there is no need to freak out. (Unless of course your life is at risk, in which case, ask for help!)
2. Pain can lead to growth. As described in the inspirational book Upside, science proves that traumatic events can result in a happier, more meaningful life.
3. Things tend to make sense only when looking backwards. Steve Jobs talked about this in his famous commencement speech. Being fired might seem like the end of your world today, but you will see it as a blessing when you have found your dream job!
I will most likely have days of feeling sad and low again, and that is fine. I know that if I just focus on the simple activities on my list and take it a day at a time, my mood will eventually lift again. I might not become the next Madonna or Tiger Woods, but I will be happy.