Continuing our Harry Potter theme, let’s explore how to deal with dementors in your life.
Recall that dementors are big, ugly, wraith-like creatures that feed on and suck all the happiness out of you. And, if they’re feelingreally feisty, they’ll give you a kiss that sucks your soul right out of you. (Yikes!)
Also recall that there’s a special way to deal with these foul creatures. It’s called the Patronus Charm.
Here’s how Professor Lupin describes it to Harry inThe Prisoner of Azkaban: “The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the dementor feeds upon — hope, happiness, the desire to survive — but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the dementors can’t hurt it. But I must warn you, Harry, that the charm might be too advanced for you. Many qualified wizards have difficulty with it.”
Harry wonders what the Patronus looks like and Lupin tells him that “each one is unique to the wizard who conjures it.”
How do you conjure it? Well, Lupin tells us: “With an incantation, which will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory.”
Dementors feed on our happiness. And, if we allow them to, they will suck our very souls out of us.
Sounds a lot like depression, eh? Indeed it does.
Fighting dementors requires magic that even many qualified wizards have difficulty with. Alas, so it is with depression.
The charm? We must concentrate WITH ALL OUR MIGHT on a single, very happy memory. Yep. That does the trick with depression as well. We know that the mind can’t simultaneously hold both the depressedand happy thoughts. But we must be fierce in our resolve and concentrate WITH ALL OUR MIGHT if we want to win the battle when the dementors glide into our daily lives.
Eating, moving and sleeping well help, too. So does training your ability to focus WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT via a meditation practice. Oh. And deep breathing helps as well — flips the old switch from the fight-or-flight response (which dementors love) to a relaxation response (which they don’t like so much).
Back to Harry. The specific incantation we powerfully speak as we focus on that happy memory? “EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!”
Which reveals another key facet to fighting the dementors: We mustexpect that our efforts will work.
All that leads to a wonderful creature flowing out of your wand and standing between you and the dementor. As Lupin says, it’s different for each of us. For Harry it was a stag. For Hermione it was an otter. What’s yours? (Mine’s a lion.)
Today’s +1. Got any dementors gliding around in your life?
Focus WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT on what’s awesome in your life. KNOW that you can protect yourself from them.
P.S. If you have a bad encounter with a dementor, Rowling tells us that the best way to recover is to eat some chocolate. (Hah! Science agrees that chocolatedoes boost our mood but let’s just make sure we limit it to 1 ounce per day and make sure it’s 80%+ dark chocolate. Too much sugar DOES NOT help the cause.)
P.P.S. Remember the epic stag Harry created to fight off the 100+ dementors near the end ofThe Prisoner of Azkaban? Hermione couldn’t believe he could do that. Even HARRY couldn’t believe it. But… Because of Hermione’s handy dandy time turner, Harry had actually ALREADY SEEN himself do it.
As he said in disbelief: “I knew I could do it this time, because I’d already done it ... Does that make sense?”
Which reveals yet another scientifically-proven piece of wisdom. Recalling prior success is one of the fastest ways to boost your self-efficacy in the moment.
Let’s add that to the mix. Focus WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT on what’s awesome in your life. KNOW that you can protect yourself from them. Recall a time in the past when you successfully faced down your biggest challenges and give me a big ol’ “EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!”