Why I have come to embrace feelings of depression, self-doubt, and loneliness and you should too

This topic may be something that is taboo to discuss in today’s day and age, but that is exactly why I am doing a post on it. I am generally a very happy go lucky guy and I have been absolutely blessed to always have what I need and grow up with two amazing and loving parents. However, I am not always super upbeat and happy all the time. Throughout my teenage years and especially during college I would experience severe bouts of depression, crippling self-doubt and loneliness. How is it that one feels lonely in a world with 7 billion other people? I wish I knew the answer.

It is not really socially acceptable to discuss this topic with family and friends. Also, from my interactions with friends and family and all the images portrayed by the media and social media outlets it seemed that everyone in the world is happy and loving life all the time. These negative emotions I felt along with the portrayal of how one should feel made me a feel like something was wrong with me and that I was not good enough or an outcast. These dark times I experienced is something I felt that the majority of my friends and family except my most discerning peers even got a slight whiff. Because I felt like I could not divulge my true feelings the problem was compounded as these negative emotions caused me to isolate myself which beget more negative emotions.These experiences have motivated me to write this post, to say it is okay to express and discuss these feelings. There is nothing wrong with experiencing such negative emotions.

It is amazing that for the most part that people strive to post inspirational and motivational content to inspire others. However, it gives one a distorted sense of reality. Everyone goes through bouts of depression, loneliness, and crippling self-doubt. Internalizing this will drastically reduce your suffering as you will not feel isolated, but realize that this is just part of the human condition. Also, it will really help you develop a profound sense of empathy for all the suffering in the world that everyone experiences. It doesn’t matter how much money or where you live we all suffer, and it is that suffering that connects us as humans.

As I mature and grow and truly internalize how universal suffering is I have realized that one should NOT seek to end suffering or pain. That would be absolutely horrible. There is this inherent duality in all aspects of life. There is day and night, love and hate, happiness and depression. You can NOT have one without the other. A naïve response may be to say that I do not want depression or hate. However, upon further introspection one would realize that is complete folly. It would be like asking to have the sun be shinning bright all day every day. While that may be nice at first, we would all burn up! Everything happens in cycles, for every high there is a low.

What one should seek to eliminate is needless pain or suffering. However, suffering in it of itself is NOT bad. I would like to share two passages relating to suffering and pain to help shine some light on this perspective. One is very poetic and spiritual and is geared towards those who are more religiously inclined and one is more scientifically based for those who are more scientifically inclined.

First Passage from great religious thinker Abdu’l-Bahá

“The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.’ 

Second Passage from Bill Harris

‘Dissipative structures (such as human beings) flourish in unstable, fluctuating environments. The more ordered and complex a system becomes, the more entropy it must dissipate to maintain its existence. Conversely, each system has an upper limit, due to its level of complexity, of how much entropy it can dissipate. This is a key point. If the fluctuations from the environment increase beyond that limit, the system, unable to disperse enough entropy into its environment, begins to become internally more entropic, more chaotic.

If the excessive input continues, the chaos eventually becomes so great that the system begins to break down. Finally, a point is reached where the slightest nudge can bring the whole system grinding to a halt. Either the system breaks down and ceases to exist as an organized system, or it spontaneously reorders itself in a new way. The change is a true quantum leap, a death and re-birth, and the main characteristic of the new system is that it can handle the fluctuations, the input from the environment, that overwhelmed the old system. In Prigogine’s words, the system “escapes into a higher order.”’

I have never included such extensive passages and quotes from other sources, but this is an absolutely essential concept I would like to get across to you, and since ideas are constrained by language I wanted to give you the best possible expressions of these ideas so that the true essence of these ideas are NOT distorted.

Understanding depression and suffering in general is an absolutely universal phenomenon and realizing that it is not only a necessary part of the human condition but is absolutely vital to evolve and truly become happy. Internalization of this concept and being truly grateful for your pain and sadness will completely change your life. Society has brainwashed us that all we need to be happy is certain physical stimulation, but that is absolutely false. What brings us true and long-lasting happiness is within each and everyone of us, and it is becoming the strongest version of ourselves.

I hope this post helped clear the air about the true nature of the negative emotions we all experience on a daily basis. Also, recently I have been posting on topics one may deem completely unrelated to athletics and sports in general. One may posit that I have gone off the wagon (I will not argue that) but I vehemently disagree that ANY of the topics I have posted about are unrelated to athletics. The reason is because your performance in ANY endeavor is NOT just related to your task specific skills and performance in the moment. It is absolutely essential to take a holistic approach. Everything is intertwined, every moment in your life bleeds into the next. As I mentioned in a previous post NOTHING exists inherently. We live in an inter-dependent world and it is absolutely essential that we come to this realization as soon as possible.

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6 thoughts on “Why I have come to embrace feelings of depression, self-doubt, and loneliness and you should too

  1. joZ says:

    Pavan… Thank you for this post. It takes courage and strength to share with others what you have here. It also takes a brave man to admit all that you have gone through. Clearly, you have never given up. You have persevered, despite everything. Many top level athletes have a lot of negativity and self-doubt. I hope many will read your post and feel normal because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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