One of the most common questions I get asked is “What if my depression never goes away?” or “What if I have anxiety problems for the rest of my life?” These questions are legitimate ones, and given the difficulty of managing anxiety and depression, I can understand the sentiment. However, some of the shortcomings of these existential questions pander to our unhelpful thinking patterns, one of these being all-or-nothing thinking. A typical answer I hear clients respond with is “If I can’t reach my goal exactly the way that I’d like to, then it’s not even worth the effort in trying at all”.
All-or-nothing thinking can be quite detrimental to our progress in life. Rarely does life go precisely the way we envision it, but that still doesn’t mean attempting to improve on it isn’t worth doing in the first place. My response typically to these questions is “Wouldn’t you want to be the happiest depressed person you’d ever meet?” “Wouldn’t it be best to be the most joyous version of yourself you could be given the limitations of what’s out of your control?” Wouldn’t that life be worth the effort in creating than to have never tried at all?
Life is full of obstacles, twists, and turns. Nothing in life is certain other than death and taxes. Multiple different forces are working against us at any given moment that is out of our control. I’d rather take the amount of agency I have over my life and run with it! I’d greatly prefer to be the best version of myself and take any win I can get no matter how big or small than to continue with business as usual, and upset myself day in and day out with my unhealthy thinking and behaving. I’d want to devote my life to becoming the best version of myself possible. I’d rather look back on my life someday on my death bed hopefully in the distant future and celebrate the fact that I made my life the happiest, most exciting and unbelievable experience I could’ve possibly made it despite knowing it could have always been better.