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Touching Your Emotional Toes - A Guide to Taking Control of Your

I was having a chat to a pal tonight about something I say all the time and frequently have people ask me about, it's my use of the word 'doing' rather than 'have'.

For example, let's take depression. Depression isn't something you have, it's something you do. It's active, it's a verb! Depression is the act of depressing yourself.

I'm going to pause here to allow the silence to be punctuated by someone screaming 'You don't understand... ' at their computer.

Now that's out of the way can I just add, the act of 'doing' is rarely conscious and doesn't diminish the feelings someone feels. If you're doing depression, anxiety, loneliness, jealousy, resentment, anger, sadness, disappointment, guilt or any other emotion then you will really feel like crap sometimes but i just want you to realise you're not sick. You're not broken. You're just stuck in a pattern of thought and emotion that isn't serving you.

You can change. Everyone can. If we treat these emotions as 'things' then it makes them immovable, permanent. Let's get straight, it's a behaviour, a set of circumstances that, although feels real, is still just behaviour. To say someone 'has' depression for example puts a huge label on them, labelling in this case is not useful. In fact it will tend to force generalisations about behaviour and make it less likely that the person will be able to change.

Does that make sense? There is a permanence to 'has' and a flexibility in 'do'.

There is a psychological theory I tell many people about called Learned Helplessness. It's a dramatic title and also perfectly sums up how we, as people, act sometimes. It's early basis came about from a study where they witnessed dogs, following a period of exposure to mild electrocution with no means of escape (it was the 70's man, these things happened!), apparently 'accepting' their fate once an escape route was presented to them. Essentially they had learned to be helpless, refusing to even try to escape from the thing that brought them pain.

For me this is exactly what we do when we 'have' rather than 'do'. By 'having' depression, anxiety or any of the others, we absolve ourselves of responsibility and become helpless bystanders as this malady overcomes us. We talk of 'suffering from... ' and when we suffer our power to take charge simply disappears. All of a sudden, we're ill, sick, broken. Does that make sense?

However, when we 'do' everything changes. Now we are active, involved, a participant in the act. This is much more powerful. When we accept that we are involved in a cycle of thoughts that has us essentially 'doing' depression, anxiety et al. we discover we can break it. We begin to discover chinks in the armour, times when it doesn't happen, moments of clarity, opportunities to take charge of our own thoughts. When you realise you are 'doing' it ceases to become suffering and, instead, can become an interesting puzzle to solve. A maze to climb out of.

Ultimately, the question is, do you want to be sick and broken or do you want to tell yourself this is a temporary thing you can change easily?

Flexibility is good. Touch your emotional toes with your emotional fingers and watch how cool life becomes.