A close companion privately revealed that he was feeling anxious and depressed. He felt like he did not want to eat or go out or talk with anyone. The source of these feelings were based on personal problems with his adult children as well as financial concerns.
He was particularly concerned about the quick onset of these feelings and that he was not, in general, a "depressed person".
In fact it seemed that he was as upset about the way he was feeling as he was concerned about the source of these feelings. He was deeply disturbed by the sense that he was no longer in control of his feelings.
I suggested that he adopt a "mindful" approach to these feelings. Acknowledge them, don't attempt to suppress them or ignore them. But immediately recognize in a mindful way that these thoughts are NOT him.
I suggested that he create an internal dialog with himself and take note that he was not these feelings but the witness of them.
This notion that we are not our thoughts and emotions but the being who has them and can observe them from a distance adds a healing perspective.
My friend initially found this suggestion rather confusing and quite troubling. He strongly doubted that merely deciding to witness these feelings rather than remain in his usual state of consciousness would make any difference.
He reported back to me the next day. He was astounded that this cognitive approach really helped him. Of course the underlying source of his angst did not change. But his emotional reaction to them did. By witnessing these feelings he was able to mitigate their impact on his mind and body.
This lessening of the physical symptoms and emotional intensity gave him a sense of regaining control. The previous feelings of lack of control merely intensified his sense of depression and the associated symptoms.
The mindful approach to one's emotional life can allow for acknowledgment, repair and healing.