“Activity is what makes people happy.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We often make the mistake of thinking that we always have to feel like it or be motivated in order to complete a project and carry out activities. If we are not motivated, however, then we prefer to postpone everything until later, when we are probably back with more vigor.
This thought is ultimately a trap, especially for those who are in a depressed state of mind. Motivation only comes from constant activity and not the other way around. This means that the action comes before the motivation.
This realization was made a few years ago, more precisely in the 1990s, thanks to a study of the effectiveness of Beck’s cognitive therapy conducted by Jacobson, Dobson, and their co-workers.
What was most interesting about it was to find that behavior activation was, in and of itself, as effective as full cognitive therapy and also as drug treatment with antidepressants.
Therefore, from this point of view, one would view a depressed state of mind not as an illness, but as a negative situation with no stimulus or energy that the person is in.
The goal would be for the person to realize through the action that there are an infinite number of people, situations, places, moments, experiences that can help them change their view of life and bring joy back to them.
The problem, however, is that a person with depression tends to do basic avoidance, and thus the exact opposite. She stops going out, doing the tasks or activities that previously seemed satisfactory to her, connecting with other people. This does nothing but sadness, apathy and negative thoughts about herself, so that she begins to paint the future in the darkest colors.
If I don’t like something or don’t feel like it, I start to live sluggishly, even avoiding living and enjoying my surroundings. It goes without saying that this cannot possibly improve my state of mind. Nor can I think positively about my life because I don’t give myself the opportunity to get to know the incentives in life that are really out there and await me.
Animating yourself is key to improving your emotional state because it breaks the vicious cycle of depression and gets you out of that trap. This is how you begin to see that along with all of the injustice and adversity, there are joys and pleasures in life.
We are not trying to motivate depressed people to have a party overnight. The goal is to fill everyday life with realistic and empowering activities that the person trusts himself to be. There is no point in suggesting activities that don’t help the person because they don’t motivate them to set new goals.
Later, when the person has stepped out of passivity, one can undertake more strenuous and demanding activities, and even those that the person has never done before but which they feel like doing.
When trying to do regular activities, the problem often arises that the person is unable to do the activities precisely because of their depression. She feels unable to do so, believes that it is of no use and has no added value.
In addition, the person may expect to do the job perfectly and feel punished and guilty for failing to do so.
In this sense, it is important to make it clear to the person concerned that such thoughts influence their behavior and are the result of their negative views. Therefore , despite the negative thoughts, he must keep trying to be active, and even if it takes great effort, the reward will be that he gradually step out of the depressed state.
Depression is a vicious cycle in which the person ceaselessly goes their way until they manage to get out. Behavioral activation is seen as an exit from this spiral, as a gateway that leads to the rediscovery of wellbeing and happiness.