Learning to talk to yourself is the basis on which you can move yourself forward and away from your depressive state. Talk to yourself through the Adult, Parent and Child.
Once you begin this practice you will easily identify the different parts of yourself, and you will pinpoint the voices that are creating your depression.
To illustrate the power of talking to yourself, take a moment out and relax. Recognize something that is a big worry in your life. Think about the worry and recognize the negative feeling that you have in your Child part. Sit with this feeling for a moment. Next, from your Adult part, find the antidote that would make your worries go away. Now, imagine that the anti-dote has been put into place. Really, really believe that it has happened and whatever was worrying you isn’t there any more. Now feel the difference in your Child.
This shows how powerful thoughts can be in that they can dominate us. The exciting discovery is that you can change the thoughts that affect the way you feel. It really is this simple. You have the power within you to succeed whether you believe it or not. The difficult part is breaking old habits that have been with you for a long time. The habits are often lifelong. But they can be changed.
Some examples of problems and antidotes follow. It may help to write yours down:
Problem: I am afraid that people are judging me when I get to the school gates. Antidote: That thought stems from way back when you were a child and you felt judged every day. That may have happened then but it is not happening now; in fact you have no evidence that people are judging you. You are imagining a scenario that is completely outdated and it is time to look at the actuality. They are probably more concerned with judging themselves and what others think of them. When has anyone ever made it clear that they are judging you? Having said that, if someone does judge you, it says more about their insecurity in your company than it says about you. It’s time to brush that thought away.
Problem: I am scared of losing my home and living in a cardboard box.
Antidote: I understand that you feel that way but that thinking is the power of your invention. No matter how tight things have been financially, between us we have always found the resources to ensure our home and bills have been paid for. You have had that fear for about twenty years and at no point has it ever come true. You are scaremongering and we have to put that thought away because there is no evidence to support your belief.
Problem: I will never feel anything but hopeless.
Antidote: I can feel the hopelessness in you and I appreciate that it is very depressing. However, you have felt this way before and it has passed. You have come away from feeling hopeless and, let’s look at the evidence; you have actually touched on joy. It feels more familiar for you to stay feeling hopeless because it’s been with you, on and off, since you can remember. But this is not your natural state and you will move away from it again. Just be patient and, remember, this too will pass.
You can now start to see the Child part of you as an actual child because, emotionally, this is how you really are. Many of us still react to the world in a childlike manner, especially if we are depressed.
To understand this, imagine yourself today with a small child by your side. Every time you need to respond or deal with someone, this child is responding on your behalf. If you are depressed, this part of you will not be equipped to deal with the world in an adult way. Because a child cannot cope with the adult world, she will act in a way that may seem strange to others.
You can see this all around you. People may act like bullies, buffoons, teenagers or ‘high school prom queens’ in order to cope with the adult world for which they are not equipped. My way of dealing with the world when I felt like a child without a parent was to pretend I had somewhere else to go and pretending to look busy, therefore minimizing any rejection I might get from others. If you appear as an adult to others, it is common to feel like a fraud.
The maturity and happiness of your Child is paramount to beating your depression. Take some time out to imagine this part of you. How old is your Child? Is she happy or sad? Is she afraid or confident? What is she wearing? What facade is she presenting? Ask yourself these questions and you will gain great insight to your soul. Once you have begun to get a glimpse of this Child, you can start to mobilize the Adult and Parent to help her grow up.
If we are depressed it is because we are stuck. We need to learn to re-parent ourselves with trust, humor and love. This is why we may seek other people’s help – we are not sure what is ‘normal’. When we go for therapy, we are paying for a ‘Parent’ to teach us how to re-parent ourselves. This is why it is so important to find a good therapist in order that you do not damage yourself further.
Get into the habit of talking to yourself, as you would like to have been talked to as a child. If it becomes the guiding tool that you turn to when you are depressed, then you will gradually stop the downward spiral of depression.
If you have been depressed for a long time – in my experience more than two years – you might find this exercise difficult, because the Child in you does not trust the Parent in you.
A simple exercise to start this process is to look back over the last year and identify what you feared would go wrong at the start of the year. Write these fears on a piece of paper. Then, identify what actually did go wrong and write this down as well. You will find two things. One, your worst fears didn’t come true, and two, what did go wrong was unexpected. Your trust in your judgement was misplaced.
People often do this. We focus on what may go wrong. We become anxious about something that may happen. It is an easy habit to get into. This is where we need to employ our reason by removing the thoughts that generate fear. Most of our fear is based on something that might happen.
This approach to learning to trust ourselves is no different to the way we would strive to build trust with an abandoned child brought to our home for us to look after. We would seea frightened child who trusted no one. We would have to work hard to build a relationship that was based on firmness, fairness, love and consistency.
Over time the child would open up in the knowledge that she could take steps towards you, ask for what she needed and expect to receive much of what was asked for. As the child’s confidence grew, she would become softer, gentler and more fulfilled. She would become more playful and excited about life. She would return the love and respect tenfold. This is our payoff. This is how we will feel if we talkto our self as a wounded child.
We may need to show our Child evidence that we are upto the job. As the trust grows, we will recognize the opening up of our soulful self and the quest for contentment willbe underway.
As your Child becomes more trusting and confident in the world, you will experience a joy that comes with confronting a real or imagined authority. You will open parts of your spirit that you didn’t know existed. You will enjoy the company of others without needing to compete. You will discover the secret of happiness is found simply in being alive.