Originally published on Psych Central HERE.

In my many musings, I have found a natural progression that helps us out of our darkest places.

I call it Moving Through, Moving To, and, in this case, it means moving toward a little Hope.

When nothing else seems to work amidst the immobilizing fear and grip of extreme anxiety or depression, this progression has helped me move gently, first out, then up. I only hope it might help you to do the same. In this gentle process, I first outline the step, then demonstrate an example in italics. Please feel free to cater it to what feels right for you.

Step One: I am

In my depressive worst, at the bottom of the barrel, there are times when I can’t even move. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to say anything, and I can’t explain it. I could call someone, but no. I could get out, and eat something sweet. But no. Yet if I can, I try to muster the strength to at least say how I feel, at least to myself. Because it’s not like I want to be there. So, I try to get it onto the page. I try to at least say the words of the worst, of where I’m at, what I am, and how I feel, simply. I call this the “I am” stage: I am miserable. I am awful. I am broken. I am battered. I am lost. I am afraid. I am. Just let it out.

Step Two: You are

Then, there are times that I find that I can only handle myself at a distance. Sometimes, it makes it easier…treating it as if it’s someone else’s life and I’m looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. Because that is what I feel like. Like an outsider to my own life. It’s not pretty as I then go into my “you ares.” But I let it rip: You are awful. You are ugly. You are stupid. You are broken. You are afraid. You are forgotten. You’re a failure. You’re a mess. You are nothing. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not in that moment, because it really is true for me then. The bigger point is to get it out of my system. Now it’s your turn.

Step Three: You will

Here is where the shift takes place. I most often cannot skip from step one to here. I have to go through the outside looking in, the “you ares,”  before the “you wills.” It’s like I have to accuse myself of what feels wrong before resolving. But here is where the hope lies. You will. You will get better. You will be okay. You will get through this. You may not know when, or how, or why. But you will. You will. You will wake up tomorrow. You will see the sun again. You will do great things. Talk to yourself. Write it down.

Step Four: I will

Eventually, at some point, when you do feel a bit better (and you will), then you move into “I will.” It might not happen right away, or it might. Or maybe step three is enough for now. But when you think you are ready, gently move into the “I’s.” I will be better. I will get better. I will do better. And I will get through this. I will feel better. I will feel good again. I will make it through. And when you can, keep going with it. I will be better. I will do great things. I will be amazing. I will make waves. I will catch dreams. I will fly. I will be awesome.

Step Five: I am

This is the most powerful. There may be days that you wake up and head straight to this one. We call these affirmations, of course, and it’s nothing new. But sometimes, it’s just too hard to live into them at the moment. I am all about speaking things into reality, even before you think you are ready (because when you start the flow, that’s when things happen). But there are times when you are just too deep into your lost and get lost in the “impossibility,” thus affirmations feel false and dig you even deeper into that hole because you feel like a failure.

This whole process is to take you out of that place and move you into this one – The affirmation zone – so that, when you do get here, you believe in it. You believe in the possibility that you actually ARE what you say you are and will come out true and strong. So with that being said, let’s go there. I am a masterful getter-outer of holes. I am strong. I am weak, but that’s okay. I am beautifully vulnerable. I am good. I succeed. I fail, but I get up. I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am getting through this. I am making waves. I am catching dreams. I am making millions. I am living the life of my dreams. I am succeeding in all that I do. I am making it through and being the best, most beautiful self that I can be. Because I AM me.