Depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic.
Statistics on Depression:
• One in ten U.S. adults report depression. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2008)
• “…the U.S. suicide rate has climbed steadily since 1999, driven by an alarming increase among middle-age adults.” (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 21, 2008)
• For youth and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2004)
• Child depression drug use has quadrupled in a decade (BBC News, 2007 “GPs in England wrote more than 631,000 such prescriptions for children in the last financial year, compared to just 146,000 in the mid-1990s.”)
• 15% of preschoolers struggle with depression and anxiety. (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2009)
When you feel bad, bad thoughts flow easily and effortlessly. When you feel good, good thoughts flow easily and effortlessly. Feeling bad and putting all your attention on it, it will grow, and more bad thoughts will arise. During this, positive thinking can make you miserable as you try to force a good thought on bad feeling–and fail. A downward spiral can begin that, unchecked, over time will affect the chemistry of the brain.
This one habit alone may be a very large cause
When I began working with people, every day people who just want more joy out of life, one thing stunned me. I noticed that when asked the first Alchemy question, “What do you want?” about 90% of the time people answered with what they do NOT want. They were quickly able to say what they do not want, but slow or even unable to say what they DO want. How bizarre! (Well at least bizarre to me now–I know there was a time when most likely I would have answered in the same way.)
If you pay attention to what you say to yourself and others, you too will be surprised not only at how often you say what you don’t want, but how challenging it may be to say what you DO want. Logically, it makes more sense to tell others what you DO want because you stand a far better chance of getting it! The same goes for what you are telling yourself! If you went car shopping and began telling the salesman the colours you don’t want “Well, I don’t want Blue Mica, and I don’t want White Pearl,” and “I don’t want Aluminum Metallic,” and “for the interior I don’t want Sand Cloth”…and “I don’t want six cylinders…”
You see the problem. With your attention on what you don’t want, that is all you experience. And we have become good at suffering, having practiced crying and suffering in our rooms as children (that may be another very large contributor).
With your attention on the problem (inside or outside of you), that is all you will know and experience. Like riding a bike, what you know and experience–what you practice–you get good at. What you don’t practice, you are not good at. The habit of looking at and knowing what you don’t want has been practiced for years. Because of this sometimes it takes people a little while to find what it is that they DO want, and they may at first feel awkward. As a result they may stop looking for it, and conclude that they do not know what they want. Of course, this cannot be true. In order to know the problem you must know the solution. Allow that it may take a little time and may feel a little strange at first (just like learning to ride a bike does). Generally what you DO want will be the exact opposite of what you don’t want. You will know when you hit on it because it will feel like relief, and then if you stay with it and practice Alchemy, it will begin to feel good.