Living by Doing

I'm a single founder working on improving my business and myself.

21. September 2014 11:47
by Anders Thue Pedersen
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How I fought my founder’s depression (And how you can do it too!)

21. September 2014 11:47 by Anders Thue Pedersen | 0 Comments

Five years ago, I gave up and ran from the company I had built.

I did not get much with me when I ran, a computer and a few customers, just enough to survive.

After a two week vacation, I went back to work, although "work" at the time meant three hours a day.

I did not have more energy a day, because I was truly burnt out, depressed and stressed out of my league.

Recently Rand from Moz wrote about his depression and he touched ever so slightly the subject of shame.  

The reason for mine and many others depression can be found in shame, as Rand also writes, “That depression, I believe, stems from shame. I was and remain, ashamed of myself” 

Shame is a powerful feeling that easily takes control you and your actions. 

It is a feeling that is so hard to live with that people split their personality to get away from it. 

I have found that the only way I can demolish my shame, the only thing it really despise and die from is light. 

Therefore, to get out of a shame spiral you have to do what is the hardest of all thing, talk about what you are ashamed about. 

This is hard, because what you are afraid of in the first place is for someone to figure out what you have done of shameful actions, and now my suggestion is for you to talk about it! 

You have been fighting for (days/months/years) to keep you shameful actions hidden so that the shame would not become real and now I am telling you that you have to talk about it to get it to go away!? 

(I know where your thoughts are going right now, as a true entrepreneur who makes a living of fixing stuff and finding a way, you try to figure out a way to avoid this, but trust me, from 11 years of experience, I have not been able to cheat shame) 

This is why so many others and I keep on doing shameful actions for many years - to avoid shame. 

Yes, to avoid the shame we do shameful actions. 

Think about that for a while! 

It is with deep insight and good reason that one of the confucian virtues is "a sense of shame"

My shame was mostly about not being good enough and not doing enough – and the weight of all that shame made it impossible to work more than ½ hour a day when I had it worst. 

I was at work 8 hours a day, but I only did real work for 30 minutes each day, the rest of the time I did a lot of stuff that lead to more shame. 

I tried to hide that I was not working (Lying is a very shameful action), I took on a lot of menial tasks that I used a lot of time on (Procrastinating is also something that when used like this is a shameful action) and I would always pick a fight over doing work (Fighting is a shameful action) 

Can you see the pattern? I believe it very easy to spot, I was ashamed of myself, to hide that fact from others I started doing shameful actions, this lead to more shame that I used more time to hide etc. etc. 

Spiralling out of control in a self-sustaining and ever increasing shame spiral, you end up depressed, stressed out and possibly as I did contemplating suicide to just get it all to stop. 

I do two things to free myself from shame and you can do the same! 

First off, understand what you are ashamed about and start talking with others about it. 

This will help you to realize that those who respect you will have sympathy even when your actions are shameful. 

In most instances, they will even tell you that it is ok to do what you did or that they do it themselves and understands you. 

Enter onto the scene “the Mastermind group”. I have written about it before, a Mastermind group is 3-4 people whom you meet with regularly and talk about business and private life. 

The most important aspect of a Mastermind group is that what is spoken at a Mastermind group stays at the Mastermind group, so this is a place where you can test your stories before telling it to the world (or your spouse, parents or others very close to you) 

The other thing I do to avoid being ashamed is to be more myself, because when I am myself I do not do shameful actions. 

This sounds easy, but in reality, it is hard, mostly because after 11 years of not being me I had forgotten how to do it. 

I had to rediscover who I am and what I like to do, I had to figure out my inner beliefs and core values. 

The more I understand this, the more I can be me, and even though I do not understand the connections entirely yet, this leads to less shameful actions and more inner peace.

One more thing

If you are as depressed as I was (or more) I will recommend seeking professional therapeutic help, I did and it did help!

Also staring at yoga, Taiost Tai Chi (www.taoist.org) or another gently workout will help you get some energy and help to heal you.

Also, eat right, drop the fast food and drink only water (and coffee, because I still do :)

Lastly, remember that you are not perfect, I am not perfect and that “Perfect” only exists in the movies.