By making yourself useful I do not mean serving food to the homeless as much as finding something that really gets your juices following. For example, maybe you are a great role model for kids, understand how to do well in school, and have some time on your hands. Something like the Blue Ribbon Advocate Mentorship program needs you – you are very valuable to them. Maybe you are great at proofreading, baking cup cakes, pouring wine, or cutting down trees – it really does not matter – go out there and do it. To be blunt, I don’t care if it is for a non-profit or a for-profit organization. The world needs you and you need the world so go do it.
Help! Help! I'm Being Depressed!
For those who love Monty Python’s and the Holy Grail as much as I do, you will notice that this is a modification on the famous dialogue between the King Arthur, ruler of the Britons, and Dennis, the peasant who did not vote for King Arthur. Dennis is not in favor of the dictatorship which the king represents, instead, he prefers an anarcho-syndicalist commune with lots of input and voting from the community. When the Dennis challenges King Arthur on his right to the throne, King Arthur has him dragged away and Dennis begins yelling “Help, Help, I’m being repressed!” (King Arthur obtained his position of King because he pulled a sword, Excalibur, out of a stone and The Lady of the Lake therefore declared him King. An obstinate Dennis declares “strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government”) The thing that makes Monty Python’s Holy Grail so great is the pure absurdity of it all.
So, where I am going with this? One of the things that bothers me the most in the world – yes, that much – is how people view themselves when they are not working for someone else. Many unemployed people are depressed and don’t feel good about themselves because they don’t feel like they have value. “After all,” they reason, “if I were valuable why would the company get rid of me? Or, why wouldn’t someone else want to hire me?”
Much like King Arthur’s line of thinking, it is completely absurd to puts one’s hands in the fate of another.
King Arthur: “If I pulled the sword out of the stone and The Lady of the Lake declared me King than I’m King. It must be true; I am King.”
Job seekers: “If the company no longer can afford to keep me, or I can’t find work, than I have little value to society. It must be true. I have little value to society.”
Both lines of reasoning are equally ridiculous. However, we are as we think and I know I’ve engaged in this line of thinking when unemployed. It is very real and very insidious; this destructive voice constantly finding your faults and short-comings.
In my opinion, the best way to overcome any type of job loss related absurd thinking (aka depression) is to think about what other people need and make yourself useful delivering it. After all, this “I am of value to someone else” line of thinking sits at the very core of the argument for being depressed. One time you were of value, delivering some product, or service to someone else and now you are not thus your value is diminished.