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When You Feel Down or Stuck: How to Effectively Be What You’re Not

Sad Man

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not eliminating our weaknesses.” ~Marilyn vos Savant

I often hear the words “be yourself.” I love those words, and I truly believe that everyone should strive to be the truest version of who they are. There's nothing more attractive than a person who is just so utterly themselves, even when society tries to push them the other way.

Strong willed people are some of my favorite types. They can be righteous. They can be overly moral. However, they know what they want, they know who they are, and they know that nobody else determines their definitions of themselves.

They stand up for what they believe in. And most importantly, they stand up for others when it matters.

As somebody who is quite strong willed myself, I appreciate the beauty in the statement “be yourself.” However, I have also come to appreciate the softer side of letting go.

This includes being wrong sometimes and even admitting it. This also includes opening my mind to the possibility of all possibilities; seeing the positive in the negative, understanding the behavior of those who may seem morally corrupt (to me), taking benefit from the other side of a passionate debate, and learning information when I want to reject it.

As somebody who preaches the importance of being yourself, I admit I have a trick up my sleeve that has something to do with pretending to be who you're not. Yup! I feel deliciously devious even just saying that.

This trick is well known in the world of Positive Psychology, a term coined by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. in psychology.

So what is this trick? Well, when you find yourself feeling down and depressed, it can help tremendously to ask yourself:

“What would the happy version of me do at this moment?”

Not only does this get you into a goal-oriented state, but it also takes a load off the negativity that you might be feeling. It takes your mind state from “oh woe is me” to imagining what will actually make you happier. It's proactive.

When you can imagine yourself being something greater than what you feel at the moment, you actually flip on a little switch in your brain that will attempt to propel you toward that image.

This can work not only when feeling down, but with any goal you may have in mind.

“What would the healthy version of me do?”

“What would the brave version of me do?”

“What would the successful version of me do?”

You're not shaming yourself in any way; you're only gently shifting your mind set into one that is proactive and ready to take charge of your life.

When I was struggling with feeling low, oftentimes I’d lie in my bed in the morning and not want to get out of it. It felt like there was no point.

I was given a beautiful child at the age of twenty-three, and even though she has been the light of my life, at the time my identity felt as though it had been ripped from my very soul.

The relationship I was in at the time was manipulative and emotionally abusive, probably on both sides. I didn’t feel like myself and I felt very restricted. My carefree spirit turned into a negative, depressed, shriveled up little hole inside my heart.

Now, this might sound odd to some, but I have always been impressed with warrior-type women. I believe that I possess some warrior qualities within myself (we all do), and when I think of them, I feel strong, like I could take on anything!

One day it just clicked. As I was lying in bed, not wanting to get out of it, I thought to myself, “What would the warrior in me do?”

Out of bed I jumped! I continued to use that saying in many different ways and for many months. Now it has become a part of me.

I am that warrior woman.

I am strong enough. I am not a victim of life’s circumstances. I create my life and everything in it. I don’t react to life. I make life what I want it to be.

To me, a warrior is not a victim. A warrior makes her life what it is; she creates it herself.

When I shift my mind into this realm, I realize that other people do not control me; I control myself. Nobody is in charge of how I get to feel.

In my relationship, I had been putting that control into somebody else’s hands, and when I decided to take back control over my life is when I finally realized the relationship was not going to work either way. Unfortunately, we had to part ways, but lessons were learned and I was finally able sit back and breathe.

Try this tool out for yourself, and see how it changes your perspective the next time you're feeling stuck.

Who knew that pretending to be who you’re not (in a positive way) could strengthen the qualities that you never knew were inside of you?

Photo by Ohfooy

About Andrea Holt

Andrea Holt is a certified Holistic Health Coach. Using her own personal battle through severe depression, her passion lies in helping others find ways to improve their mood naturally and for life; through lifestyle changes, nutrition, and positive psychology. Residing in Colorado with her daughter, she enjoys the outdoors, yoga, crossfit, writing, and soul-searching. Visit her at happybrainmovement.com and on Facebook.

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  • Lee

    Being positive and looking at the bright side of things keeps me happy and focused so I don’t feel down. Being myself is what im best at and you do stand out when your different but stand up for something as well. I use the same strategy, “what will the warrior in me do” and it works!

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  • Vanessa

    Wow, as a not particularly strong willed person, I thought this article was going to make me feel pretty bad about myself. But I love how you brought it round at the end. Time for warrior me to start carrying some of the load that anxious me has been shouldering for so long. Thank you Andrea, this is an awesome tool.

  • Andrea Holt

    I agree, thanks for your comment! Looking at the bright side of things is one of the key parts of staying mentally healthy and happy. Being ourselves is so very important – and finding the strength to reach down deep and pull out our strengths when we don’t even know we have them is incredible. Some people forget that they are capable of more than what they believe.

  • Andrea Holt

    You’re welcome Vanessa, and thank you!

  • Andrea,

    I really dig your points. I’ve had some identity issues that, I’m glad to have mostly conquered, but I really relate to handing over power in a relationship. We set ourselves up to be victims. Luckily, we are able to break that the moment we flip that self deprecating switch to off and start fighting for our happiness. We all deserve respect, and we all deserve to be happy with the lives we’re living. It’s something I’ve been really reflecting on in my blog.

    I like your tactic. Basically fake it till you make it, right? I really believe that you need to make a choice to improve, and I think your article hits that 100%.

    Cheers

  • Michelle

    Andrea,

    Thank you for taking the time to help me realize how to become a better version of myself. This is going to help me overcome many circumstances which I’m currently facing.

  • I love this question you posed: “What would the happy version of me do at this moment?” Reframing has been an important tool to help me shift negative thinking to one that aligns more with my authentic self.

    I too admire strength, directness and courage in others. As yourself have pointed out, it’s good to be bendable when it comes to different view points. I seek out different points as if they are the Holy Grail. They truly do test your beliefs. Thank you for sharing your insights.

  • I absolutely love the questions you mentioned in this article – especially what would the happy version of myself do at this moment? That’s an amazing way to look at things and it’s a great way to change our frame of mind. Great article!

  • I absolutely love the term, “warrior woman.” The questions, “what
    would the warrior woman in me do?” is absolutely inspiring! I myself admire
    strong women whether in movie rolls, book characters, or real life women. The
    empowering energy they exude is so contagious that even when I happen to be in
    a depressive state, reading an article or watching a show with a power leading
    female as the center point will inspire me out of my “blah” state of being.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  • gsfraser

    Be who you are…. how the hell do you know what that is? Meditation, journaling, etc.?? What do you do if those don’t work?

  • Jhai

    Awesome post andrea it gave me an answer for some thing i was in search of … I now understand each persons situation is unique and only if we battle out WE FIND OUR OWN WAYS

  • Diana Prince

    If I ask myself these three questions in every
    circumstance, I’m sure to stay true to myself and not let fear dictate my
    actions! Thanks for such an insightful post, I included it in my blog (wonderwomananew.blogspot.com)

  • Claire

    Brilliant post and very relevant to me recently! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Mountainwoman

    Thank you.

  • West

    This is some of the worst advice for people struggling with depression that I’ve ever heard. Authenticity to yourself when dealing with depression is absolutely essential to creating meaning out of our suffering. There is potential value in being inclined to depression, a sensitivity and candor out of which great masterworks were born, created by brilliant/suffering people. To deny yourself and experiences because they “feel bad” is cowardly, and a step backwards in developing a coherent self capable of great insight and achievement. I’m sick of this positivity new age psychobabble… It doesn’t speak to me, and advice like this reveals it to be a potentially damaging paradigm that sanitizes uncomfortable but valid experiences.

  • clint

    X x