Definite patterns emerge when dealing with clients with depression, stress and anxiety. Often they have accepted experiences from the past, which gives them a belief about themselves that is not true, or is no longer true. Getting clients back to doing what they love doing is a practical way in helping them to recover.
Early on in life, we photograph experiences and store them in our subconscious mind. These are stored as representational systems, i.e. visual, auditory, feelings, taste and smell. You probably have experienced recalling these when a smell, or a scene, reminds you of a past event. For me, drinking a certain wine reminds me a field trip at University and the fun we had. But for some, these reminders are not so positive.
Because storing a lot of these experiences happen when we were younger, your younger mind was not able to truly understand the situation, and you may have added meaning to something and stored that as truth. And it may not have been true, then you live from that through your programmes/habits.
Thought is the basic building block from which all mind sets and learnings are formed. So how we choose to interpret something has a major impact on our lives.
A client who was exceptionally bright was teased by her family members for it throughout her childhood. Later on in life she was finding it difficult to pursue what she wanted, which was a long-term relationship, and a better paying job. By examining the past she discovered she’d put a certain meaning on being teased. “If she was different, then she would be on her own. Being different wasn’t good.’ She found herself struggling with life in general and felts was in a state of depression. She was constantly thinking thoughts like:
- A long-term relationship is not available to me
- I’m not good enough for the positions I apply for
By constantly focusing on these thoughts in her head, she no longer could see anything positive in herself. Therefore making long-term relationships difficult; also allowing people to get close and achieving what she wanted in her career. By focusing on the past she was becoming numb to all things.
Through her understanding, that at a young age she’d put meaning on this experience which translated to, ‘if you are different, that is bad, and you are on your own’. She saw she was no longer that child and could form a different set of beliefs. Like ‘being different is an asset.’
What was key to her recovery was for her to go back to doing the things she loved to do. This reinforced what she was good at and then she started the process of seeing the good things about herself and liking her.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
— Lao Tzu
Thoughts Can’t Think Themselves
Marisa Peer put it very succinctly, one of the rules of the mind is it only responds to two things ever, the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself, and there’s nothing else.
By being vigilant with your thoughts, you can change your thoughts at anytime. By taking control of your mind and noticing your thoughts you can eradicate those which no longer serve you.
Remember, thoughts cannot think themselves.
And you are the thinker of these thoughts.
Some of these beliefs you have about you and your capabilities may not even be your own beliefs, and you no longer need to live by them.
Practical Day To Day Tasks Will Help Depression
Becoming more present will enable you to stop the negative thoughts and the depression. Ask yourself, ‘what is it I really love to do?’ By making a list of those things and start doing them. If you are feeling so depressed you cannot make a list, write down those things you loved to do as a kid. Start making a plan of what you can do each day. Start writing down as many as you can.
Reasoning? Well the third line in the Lao Tzu quote.
By doing the things you love doing, you become more present. By absorbing yourself in what you do, forgetting about the negative merry-go-round in your mind. Allowing room for you to recognise your abilities, your strengths, the good things in life and creating a more positive view of you and your circumstances.
Start thinking of yourself like a movie projector, the projector is your energy, the film your thoughts and words, and the screen on which the film is projected, is your life. By seeing pictures and words in your head that are negative, then that’s what you are projecting to the outside world. Each of us have the power/energy to think whatever thoughts we wish. So you decide if it is a sad or a joyful movie.