The Link Between Depression & Expectations (& the movie Midnight in Paris)

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Many people struggle their whole lives to learn how to make disappointment bearable. One of the great parts of aging (that almost makes up for gravity) is how much easier it is to roll with disappointment. You understand & accept that disappointment is a huge part of life. One example would be to know you will not always be lucky enough to spend your holidays with your family intact.

Growing up is honestly accepting painful situations. Many depressed people are fighting the acceptance of the hard parts of life. So if you lose your job, though it’s depressing, you still have to find things to do that matter, besides job hunting to restore self-worth.

Transitions are tough for everyone. Transitions, in general, are often depressing. Moving to a new place may be your own idea but that doesn’t mean you won’t get overwhelmed and depressed wondering if you’ve made a big mistake. You have to expect that all change is going to have lots of struggle, not just rewards.

Transitions mean beginning a big change can be scary, like graduating from college and having to move back in with your parents. Often, it’s a big transition for many parents when the last kid leaves the nest, so they annoy their kid with 5 or 6 phone calls a day under the pretense of worrying about them when maybe they need to worry about themselves. Groping around finding new interests to recapture some life vitality is not an easy thing to do.

It can be very depressing to stay stuck in the past instead of adapting to a new reality. Gil (Owen Wilson) discovers exactly this in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. He is whisked back in time where he learns that life can be unsatisfying in the present, even to legends (Gauguin etc.) from a previous era.

On some level, overcoming depression means accepting the unsatisfying chunks of life & having the tenacity to sort out, how to become satisfied in new ways. Gil does both these things as he dumps his girlfriend & decides to live in Paris.

To emerge out of depression, you don’t need to move to another country like Gil. You do need to find the willingness to try small experiments in new efforts.

Gil is in love with walking in Paris, at night or in the rain (one of the pure delights of this movie is that it is a love song to Paris). Try driving around & finding 3 different neighborhoods to walk in 3 nights a week. The small step of changing the scenery can make the endeavor more interesting. Small efforts can work.

It reduces depression if you are able to let go of your ideas of how life is supposed to be. The more you set yourself up with false beliefs; “My children should…”, “My boyfriend should know what I want without my asking” etc., the worse you will feel, because you are drowning in unmet wants.

Life is a whole lot easier when you reduce your expectations & shoulds for other people. It’s way too easy to stay silent & be judgmental; instead of asking for what you want & coping with rejection. Dealing with rejection really does make “Yes” sweeter when it happens.

Living life with a bit of humbleness is what I’m suggesting. There can be real arrogance & self-righteousness to shoulds that can trigger the darkness of depression. False expectations are inextricably connected to depression.

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4 thoughts on “The Link Between Depression & Expectations (& the movie Midnight in Paris)

  1. Horror Movie Medication says:

    I suffer from clinical depression. The scary kind of depression. In addition to seeking professional help, I have also discovered a coping mechanism for myself. Horror Movies. I they are great. I even made a whole blog dedicated to the horror movies I watch trying to drowned out my blues. I go into a little more of my reasoning here:
    http://horrormoviemedication.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-horror-helps.html
    check it out if you have the time.

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