Every once in a while I’ll get completely caught up in something outside myself and I won’t notice how I’m feeling and I won’t be thinking horrible things about myself and my life.

That’s it! I thought to myself. I just need to start focusing on what’s going on around me and then I won’t be so depressed anymore!

People call this “serving”. Community "service". Volunteering. Some people say when you’re focusing on helping others the stuff going on in your life is smaller and you’ll realize it’s not important. And it's true for the most part. For example, when you lose your pen and your friend loses her wedding ring, your pen doesn't stick to the front of your brain.

There's another facet here though. See, I think my counselor would call it something different than "helping others". I think she would call it distracting yourself.

Yes, it’s true there are things in the world that are important, really important. And there are people who really need our help. But when we tell ourselves we aren't important because others are more important, it's not helping the situation. The things in our life are important, too. Especially our feelings. It’s not good to spend too much time thinking about our feelings or thinking about a situation that happened, but it’s not good to think the things that happen in our lives aren’t important.

I’m trying to allow myself time to think about my life, my feelings, and try to process them completely in one setting. Then if it comes back up, I jump straight to the conclusion I already came to and I don’t have to go all the way back down that road again. I can move on.

Photo by Death to Stock

When the thought is finished, I'm more free to think about what's going on in the world as opposed to focusing on what's going on in the world in order to forget what's going on in my life.

It’s not distracting myself, it’s finishing a thought and starting a new one. And I think this is a better way to help others.