As I’ve mentioned before, I deal with depression. I’m currently doing it without professional assistance, but I do have a support network, and I take St. John’s Wort and try to use the skills I got from REBT in my daily life.
One of the things I keep remembering is the story of the Two Wolves. It’s a really positive image. More, it’s a great bit of imagery, and it serves as a reminder that every time you follow a thought chain you are building a path in your brain. For me, this doesn’t so much mean that I never follow my mind into dark places, or forbid myself negative feelings (yeah, you can really hurt yourself that way too) but I do make a conscious effort to keep most of my mental trips grounded, and I make sure to indulge in wishful thinking every now and then. Try to use all those different emotional muscles, so they don’t atrophy.
Still, because I’m perverse, and because I reject the idea that a wolf could be evil, now and then I allow that story to morph a bit. The ‘bad wolf’ is more like a wendigo. You think you are feeding it ‘the enemy’ by villifying those who have wronged you. You even get some energy back in the form of renewed anger. Do it long enough, though, and you’ll be feeding it all the time, and that ‘righteous’ anger you get back is all that sustains you. Do it long enough, and one day you’ll realize that the flesh you’ve been feeding it is your own…It’s a powerful image, and I’m fond of it, but I think the two wolves image is more suitable for everyday use.
The upshot is, this has really changed the way I approach serious emotional conflicts. I try to stay away from judging the other person, and I take a long, hard look at my own actions and motivations. I also figure out what reconciliation would take, and whether or not the relationship is worth it (not whether the person is worth it – that never works well).
The upshot is I am (I’ve been told) the least satisfactory person to come to when you need to vent about how terrible your conflict with someone is, especially if that someone is central to your life. Which is fine with me, because I’m completely unsatisfied to be put in the middle of other people’s conflicts. I’m as prone as the next person to feed the drama llama from time to time, but I do my best to make sure that llama is grounded in fiction (literature, video, or role playing games) or distant from my life. I find it’s just better all around.