Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Why it's a bad idea to start brooding about your ex at this time of year

Halle-flippin'-lujah. The most depressing time of the year is nearly over. If you've felt excluded and horribly alone during the familial triumphalism of the festive season, fear not.

Just hang on a bit longer and see it through. For, after the secondary horror of New Year, it'll all be done.

Depression: sad business, isn't it? My view is that it's largely caused by disappointment.

In particular, the disappointments inherent in growing up take their toll.

You discover that the adults didn't know what they were doing all along. Not just your parents. Employers, policemen, the religious people, authorities of all sorts.

Clueless, the lot of them.

Then there are the cruelties of the world. Far worse than you ever envisaged. Injustices that leave the jaw dangling.

The realisation that the historic prosperity of your society was built on the exploitation of others. I'm not saying beat yourself up about the last one. But, if you're at all sensitive, you're bound to feel queasy at times.

If your family or personal life falls apart into the bargain, then you've got to be a particularly brave soldier.

Tip: use your mind. The mind works through internal dialogue and pictures. When it tells you how awful everything is, and keeps banging on about it, tell it to shaddap.

That kind of dialogue goes round in loops and indicates you've got to take command of the situation in your noggin. It's easily done: you're the boss, remember.

Pictures play a large part too. You envisage your ex with a new partner, or conjure bailiffs at the door, or dwell on images from the past that make you maudlin about the present.

The last sort you might use wisely on occasion.

The others you should shrink to invisibility. Literally, in your mind: shrink them away.

It's the technique advocated by Paul McKenna, and it works. Don't bring harmful images up into your mind. Zap them away. You wouldn't deliberately go and watch a crap movie, would you?

Wonderful thing, the mind. It's like a horse. It'll go wild and trample you if you let it. But you can harness it and go places with it too.

There are other things to do to lift your mood: watch great films on DVD; drink three glasses of nice wine; treat yourself to an occasional chocolate (you can savour them more if you just have two, rather than a whole box); read a PG Wodehouse novel; listen to rousing rock (careful with classical music; true beauty usually has a melancholy aspect).

New research this week claims you can sing your way out of the festive blues. Fat lot of use to me. Normally, I'm too shy to sing even in the privacy of my own home. I tried droning out of respect at a couple of funerals recently, but it just didn't work.

The last time I really made an effort was when the footer team I support won a rare trophy.

Mind you, as we sang the club's anthem ("We're crap and we know we are") I was also fighting back tears. What it takes to move a man, eh?

Of course, these were tears of joy. Not the sort of thing you see during this period of festive totalitarianism and cacophonous commercialism.

If it's got you down, don't give up. You're not alone in your loneliness.

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