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Understanding depression - part 4
Carole Turner  , Friday, November 7, 2003

Most people who suffer from depression have limiting beliefs and opinions about themselves as outlined in the last article. One of the most challenging aspects of conquering depression is changing these negative beliefs and learning how to be your own best friend. Learning to be your own best friend means looking after yourself physically and having enough rest, exercise and eating a healthy diet. It means being aware of your own needs and putting this first on your priorities.
Your world
When you become aware of your thoughts and style of thinking then you can begin to see why your world is shaped in the way that it is. The way we think influences how we feel and how we feel influences how we act and relate to others. First it is important to ask yourself if indeed you do have worth, value and capabilities and that your perception of yourself is inaccurate.
If you were to ask a number of people you know well, would their perception and appraisal of you be the same as yours? A rule of thumb is that if you view yourself as radically different from your friends and family and they have more or less compatible views of you then probably your perception of yourself is faulty.
In these circumstances it is important to address your thought patterns and to analyse whether your thoughts are really supportive and positive about yourself and if not to set about changing them.
Your critical voice
A critical voice within you is one which keeps you from feeling good about yourself. It can keep up a commentary throughout the whole day and throughout your life from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. It tells you what you like, how you are feeling and it defines judges and interprets your every action.
Many people believe this critic within is telling the truth and that it is saying all these things for their own good. However, this is not the case. The critic within puts a strain on relationships, causes anxiety, and makes you feel unworthy, inadequate and depressed.
The real you
The real you is much more than the roles you play, more than your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. The real you is a pure life force unlimited by ideas and thoughts about who you are. It is the real you that can enjoy all the thoughts, ideas and dreams of your mind and all the pleasures of your body and the external world in which you live. The critic within stops you realising how beautiful, enjoyable, capable and powerful you are. It can be responsible for undermining your beliefs in yourself. However, this voice is like a radio band, it can be turned down and eventually re-tuned to another station.
To achieve this takes time, commitment and energy.  The first stage is exploration.
Do you have a critical voice within you and when is it activated? Some people know of this critical part and others are simply not aware that they have this undermining aspect.
After awareness and exploration comes challenging these beliefs and presenting information like one would have to do before a jury. For example if you are in an unhappy marriage a limiting belief might be “If I leave this marriage no man will ever be attracted to me.” Then to write down why you think this statement is true and then why it is not true in the manner of presenting information to a judge. Just as the child within each of us needs support to reclaim his lifeline, energy and vitality so the the sufferer of depression may often require professional support to turn down and ultimately change the critical band wave of their inner thoughts.
Another inclination of sufferers of depression is to brood rather than act on difficulties, which is another self-defeating pattern. When people who possessively ponder a problem and its negative implications they can find themselves sucked into a vicious circle of gloom. Many people play the victim role, complaining in either speech or thought about a situation, about what others do or not do or say, about a life situation or even the weather. When you complain you make yourself into a victim, feeling powerless and impotent. When you speak out you are in power.  So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary, possibly leaving the situation or accept it without complaint.
Do something
Sometimes any action is better than no action particularly if you have been in an unhappy situation for a long time. If the action turns out to be a mistake you can learn from this so you can grow wiser and therefore it is not a mistake but an opportunity for growth. If there is really nothing you can do about the life situation then it is important to accept it and look at the positive aspects that this situation brings you. If on the other hand there is something you should be doing but not doing out of fear, laxness or passivity then either do what you need to be doing and then reap the pleasure from doing it or accept your state at the time and enjoy the moment.

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