6 Things You Need to Know About Dating With Depression (After a Breakup)

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
6 Things You Need to Know About Dating With Depression (After a Breakup)
A painful breakup can cause you to fall into depression. You miss your ex (even if you know the breakup is for the best), you’re feeling miserable and crying often, or maybe you just feel numb and empty. You might be second-guessing yourself, feeling bad about yourself, having trouble concentrating at work, and can’t sleep or eat normally. My first suggestion is to definitely seek professional help if it feels unmanageable — most people who get help find relief from their symptoms. When you’re ready, ease back into dating by considering the following:

1. The timing doesn’t have to be perfect.
When you’re depressed after a difficult breakup, it can be really hard to know when it is time to start dating again. On one hand, you need to give yourself time to heal — you may not be in a great place to date the first days or weeks after an intense breakup and it’s okay and completely normal not to want to date. Take some time to reflect on the relationship: What did you learn from it? What do you want to be different in your next relationship? Self-reflection can be helpful, but be aware that too much self-reflection can become ruminating — going over the same problems or regrets over and over, which can keep you stuck in depression rather than moving forward. Next, recognize that you don’t always have to be 100 percent over your ex in order to start dating again. Depression can make you feel helpless, so sometimes getting out and dating again helps you feel more in control of your life. Plus, meeting someone new can be really wonderful.

2. Strategize when planning.
Since you’re more vulnerable to feeling rejected or upset if a date doesn’t go well, make sure you plan activities with your friends after a date, and don’t stake all of your happiness on the success of one date. Make dating a fun part of your life rather than the center of it.

3. Make an effort to focus on your date.
Depression can make you very aware of your own inner pain and suffering — your focus becomes overly internal. This can make it hard to be truly interested in someone else. And yet to really connect with someone new, there has to be a willingness to learn about them. A good strategy is to stay engaged with your date by asking them questions, and making an effort to really listen when they answer. Not only will this help you connect with them, but it can improve your mood when you’re actively engaged in a discussion.

4. Remind yourself that the future does hold possibility.
Depression can make your own future look bleak: It tricks you into believing the future doesn’t hold promise for your love life, and keeps you hyper-focused on the negative side of things. You’re much more prone to focusing on your own perceived negative qualities, and seeing things generally with more pessimism. While you certainly don’t have to pretend that everything is roses, I suggest trying to identify things about yourself, about dating, or about your life that you do like, in order to help you reframe your mindset. Remind yourself of the good friends you have, celebrate when things go well at work, or call to mind past positive experiences you’ve had in dating. If it’s hard to identify favorable things, enlist the help of a friend. Sometimes a friend or family member who knows you well can see the positive things in you and in your life that you may have trouble recognizing. In addition to this, plan things for yourself that help you anticipate and look forward to the future.

5. Remember to be kind to yourself.
Negative self-talk, like “I’m a failure” or “No one wants me” or “Things will never get better” can be so defeating, and you can start to believe all of the negative things about yourself and your dating prospects. So pay attention to these thought patterns. When you notice a negative thought, label it “that’s a negative thought” or “that’s a depressed thought,” and gently let it go.

6. When you’re depressed, there’s a tendency to excessively seek reassurance when entering a new relationship.
Excessive reassurance seeking means that you are looking to your date to boost your self-esteem by confirming that you’re worthy and lovable. You look for signs that the person truly likes you, and then even when you receive those signs, you may question them. How much does the person really like you? Are they really going to stick around? You may repeatedly ask for confirmation of how much they really care for you or look for ways they can prove they care. This type of behavior can be overwhelming and a turn-off to potential partners if you’re constantly questioning how they feel about you.

Instead, gently remind yourself that your depressed mood can make you extra sensitive and insecure, and remember that there’s a certain amount of trust and faith you need to put in a new person you’re developing a relationship with. Remind yourself that asking for reassurance all the time won’t really help you strengthen your new relationship, it can hurt it. Instead, focus on giving yourself affirmations — focusing on your own sense of self-worth. And rather than seek reassurance, you can simply notice how you feel when you’re around your partner. If they are treating you well, are interested in seeing you, and are treating you consistently well, then let their actions serve as reassurance to you — without having to ask for it.

Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD is a clinical psychologist, author and relationship expert. Her new book, When Depression Hurts Your Relationship: How to Regain Intimacy and Reconnect with Your Partner When You’re Depressed, is now available. Visit her online at www.DrShannonK.com.

A version of this blog was originally published on eHarmony Advice.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Is There A Difference Between A Happy Life And Meaningful Life?
greater good science center

By Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh

Philosophers, researchers, spiritual leaders — they’ve all debated what makes life worth living. Is it a life filled with happiness or a life filled with purpose and meaning? Is there even a difference between the two?

Think of the human rights activist who fights oppression but ends up in prison — is she happy? Or the social animal who spends his nights (and some days) jumping from party to party — is that the good life?

These aren’t just academic questions. They can help us determine where we should invest our energy to lead the life we want.

Recently some researchers have explored these questions in depth, trying to tease apart the differences between a meaningful life and a happy one. Their research suggests there’s more to life than happiness — and even calls into question some previous findings from the field of positive psychology, earning it both a fair amount of press coverage and criticism.

The controversy surrounding it raises big questions about what happiness actually means: While there may be more to life than happiness, there may also be more to “happiness” than pleasure alone.

Five Differences Between A Happy Life And A Meaningful One
“A happy life and a meaningful life have some differences,” says Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He bases that claim on a paper he published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology, co-authored with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Stanford.

Baumeister and his colleagues surveyed 397 adults, looking for correlations between their levels of happiness, meaning and various other aspects of their lives: their behavior, moods, relationships, health, stress levels, work lives, creative pursuits and more.

They found that a meaningful life and a happy life often go hand-in-hand — but not always. And they were curious to learn more about the differences between the two. Their statistical analysis tried to separate out what brought meaning to one’s life but not happiness, and what brought happiness but not meaning.

Their findings suggest that meaning (separate from happiness) is not connected with whether one is healthy, has enough money, or feels comfortable in life, while happiness (separate from meaning) is. More specifically, the researchers identified five major differences between a happy life and a meaningful one.

Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but that seems largely irrelevant to a meaningful life. Therefore, health, wealth and ease in life were all related to happiness, but not meaning.

Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present and future — and the relationship between them. In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer.

Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Although social connections were linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness was connected more to the benefits one receives from social relationships, especially friendships, while meaningfulness was related to what one gives to others — for example, taking care of children. Along these lines, self-described “takers” were happier than self-described “givers,” and spending time with friends was linked to happiness more than meaning, whereas spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness.

Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness.

Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness.

One of the more surprising findings from the study was that giving to others was associated with meaning, rather than happiness, while taking from others was related to happiness and not meaning. Though many researchers have found a connection between giving and happiness, Baumeister argues that this connection is due to how one assigns meaning to the act of giving.

“If we just look at helping others, the simple effect is that people who help others are happier,” says Baumeister. But when you eliminate the effects of meaning on happiness and vice versa, he says, “then helping makes people less happy, so that all the effect of helping on happiness comes by way of increasing meaningfulness.”

Baumeister’s study raises some provocative questions about research in positive psychology that links kind, helpful — or “pro-social” — activity to happiness and well-being. Yet his research has also touched off a debate about what psychologists — and the rest of us — really mean when we talk about happiness.

To find out more about the science behind a happy and meaningful life, read the rest at the Greater Good Science Center.

This article originally appeared on Greater Good, published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. For more, please visit greatergood.berkeley.edu.

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