Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Tip#910: Resilience Resources, Part 20 – Depression – A Christmas Carol – It’s a Wonderful Life

As of this writing I am in my fourth month out of recovery for chronic depression and feeling like my old energetic, enthusiastic self! My mind is sharp, active and productive. I am so grateful for the 15 week group program called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) because it was the first big key to my recovery from clinical depression (see tip#863). The book we worked with was Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greeberger, PhD and Christine A. Padesky, PhD. The basic idea was the reprogramming and refocusing of my negative, hopeless thoughts because the rumination is what leads to emotions, physical reactions and behaviors that perpetuate the depression cycle.

During the weekly sessions each attendee went back in time into our memories to review positive and negative triggers. Amazingly I’d remember so many good things I’d forgotten such as my personal value to myself and others. I’d remember the great leader I was in public school projects and the excellent grades I received. There were many awards I won in high school and I was valedictorian as well. And I always had good friends. Unfortunately, these are thoughts that become invisible in the mental fog of depression.

In the CBT program I’d learn to identify hidden core beliefs that amplified my depression symptoms and how to rewrite these beliefs. These exercises would make me think of two Christmas classics that I felt have been secretly teaching me about CBT for years!

A Christmas Carol (1951)

There are several cinematic versions of A Christmas Carol and my favourite stars Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is an embittered, miser living an unhappy life who is helped by three Ghosts of Christmas to review his life. He is shown his past as a child where core beliefs were formed creating his lack of compassion for others. He is then shown the present on how others celebrate Christmas such as his employee Bob Cratchit and his family. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come then shows Scrooge what lies in his future if he does not change.

“I haven't taken leave of my senses. I've come to them.”

All these life review experiences help Scrooge to refocus his thoughts which then transforms his emotions and behaviors. He then becomes a joyful example of a man finally free of destructive beliefs to be more caring, loving and thoughtful of others and, equally important, more loving to himself.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1947)

In the Frank Capra classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence the angel (Henry Travers) performs CBT refocusing with George Bailey (James Stewart) who is on the verge of suicide. He feels his life has been wasted and is feeling hopeless and faced with a financial crisis. Clarence helps George visualize all the positive deeds performed in his life and this causes him to remember all the people he has helped and that he is surrounded by a loving, supportive community.

"You see, George, you've really had a wonderful life."

Having refocused his thoughts, George’s emotions and behaviour are transformed and returns to his life able to fully appreciate the little things as well as the issues and adversities he once felt hopeless with.

See Psychology Today article:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression -"It's a Wonderful Life" is an instructional film on healing depression

The tools I learned from CBT as well as the power of movies all helped to amplify my indestructible optimism. They’ve become my resilience resources. This, in turn, helps me to help others navigate through their own journeys and adversities in life and work. This is the silver lining of my experience with depression. I believe you will find the silver lining too! You can start by watching these two movies in a whole new light.

If you are dealing with depression or feel you are caught in a never-ending cycle of life or career struggles then I highly recommend you see these films as tools to inspire you to transform your life. And if you resonate with CBT then I also recommend you look into a program at a mental health centre near you. You deserve to live and enjoy a full life! And remember you are already surrounded with the help and resources you need.

Related Tips:
Tip#855: How Movies Saved My Life, Part 1 - Depression & Mental Health - Tomorrowland  
Tip#863: How Movies Saved My Life, Part 2 - Depression & Mental Health - Inside Out 
Tip#804: Resilience Resources, Part 1 - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - The Theory of Everything 
Tip#804: Resilience Resources, Part 1 - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - The Theory of Everything
Tip#805: Resilience Resources, Part 2 - Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Tip#810: Resilience Resources, Part 3 – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - A League of Their Own
Tip#811: Resilience Resources, Part 4 – Top 15 Movies for Dealing with Depression & Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Tip#812: Resilience Resources, Part 5 – Mental Health - Mumford
Tip#813: Resilience Resources, Part 6 - 50 First Dates 
Tip#819: Resilience Resources, Part 7 - Wild 
Tip#822: Resilience Resources, Part 8 - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Tip#823: Resilience Resources, Part 9 – Super Bowl -Invincible
Tip#825: Resilience Resources, Part 10 – Mental Health & Healthcare - Big Hero 6
Tip#829: Resilience Resources, Part 11 – The Tartigrade – Mr. Deeds Goes To Town
Tip#830: Resilience Resources, Part 12 – Depression & Graham Moore - The Imitation Game 
Tip#833: Resilience Resources, Part 13 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tip#834: Resilience Resources, Part 14 - Top 10 Movies for Inspiring Resilience in the Workplace
Tip#857: Resilience Resources, Part 15 - Instagram - Pitch Perfect 2
Tip#873: Resilience Resources, Part 16 - Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Tip#881: Resilience Resources, Part 17 - Love & Mercy
Tip#892: Resilience Resources, Part 18 – Problem Solving - The Martian 
Tip#896: Resilience Resources, Part 19 - Depression – J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Tip#910: Resilience Resources, Part 20 – Depression – A Christmas Carol – It’s a Wonderful Life 


Remember How Movies Can Help You: 
A) Entertain & Escape 
B) Re-energize & Release 
C) Insights, Inspiration & Epiphanies

Emmanuel Lopez-Motivatorman
Motivational Speaker & Resilience Expert
Discover How Movies Inspire Resilience in Your Work & Life!
See website:

© Emmanuel Lopez 2015

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