Okay, maybe I’m a bit pessimistic about leap-of-faith-taking, but there’s something to be said for playing it safe – at least a little. And that goes especially when we are considering important choices while we are under the influence of depression.
I previously wrote about the concept of suspension of disbelief, where we are asked to put aside what we consider to be reasonable or realistic, and to basically go with the flow of what is being presented to us. Suspension of disbelief comes in handy when we don’t really believe we can be helped with our depression, and yet our therapists are telling us we can. It allows us to entertain the notion that there really is hope for us, and enables us to open up to trying things despite our disbelief.
In contrast, a leap of faith is defined at TheFreeDictionary.com as “the act or an instance of believing or trusting in something intangible or incapable of being proved.” My concept of a leap of faith is not just trusting in something seemingly un-provable, but the subsequent step of taking action on that trust.
Which leads to the John Burroughs quote, “Leap, and the net will appear.” But will it?
Faith vs. Wishful Thinking. My experience has been that my thought processes can become quite compromised when I am depressed. I can go to extremes. I may want to believe something so badly that I don’t allow myself to consider its true validity or its potentially negative repercussions. At other times I may be so despondent that I just don’t care about consequences. Either way, I become prone to acting rashly and my “faith” may be more of a case of unconsidered wishful thinking. That can become quite dangerous depending on the stakes involved in the decision or action under contemplation (the “leap” we are making).
Informed Faith vs. Blind Faith. At any time when we are venturing out into new territory, it is best to become as informed as we can about our intended activities. The difficulty of doing this increases when we are depressed. Depressed people tend to have decreased decision-making capabilities and our objectivity suffers. We can also have difficulty motivating ourselves to do research or seek out more data before making decisions. And conversely, too much information can overwhelm us. The idea is to become reasonably knowledgeable, not necessarily an expert.
Build your own net. Often it helps to run our plans by another person before we act on them. And hopefully that would be someone who can look at our ideas objectively and give us reasonable feedback. We may want to discuss our plans with more than one individual to get multiple viewpoints before taking action. If feasible, we may want to postpone a decision or action until we are thinking more clearly, or seek help in coming up with possible alternatives to the “leap” we are considering.
I guess by nature, a leap isn’t something we can undertake tentatively, but not all scenarios involve “all or nothing” commitments. A small step in our desired direction may suffice for the time being instead of a full-blown leap. While we don’t want to let depression paralyze us, we also don’t want to act rashly and end up with consequences that may long outlast even the depression.
Ultimately, I think what I am trying to say is this: always look before you leap; if you are depressed, look twice.