Overcoming depression: When we start saying yes to our self
Current thinking leans to the belief that depression starts off as an adaptive response to protect ourselves from a situation which isn’t right for us or is hurting us in some way. From losing someone we love, to circumstances we feel we can’t get out of, losing a job or sense of identity, feeling our needs can’t be met, or when things that happened in the past continue to affect us deeply.
What happens next is we can get stuck in this response, withdrawing from others to a greater or lesser degree, and selectively noticing negative information whilst tending to ignore the positive. Our biology can also kick in by developing pathways to support this, reinforcing a negative cycle.
What started as a signal that something is hurting, calling us to stop and withdraw energy from whatever isn’t right so we may take stock, reconsider what needs to happen next and start something different gets stuck. Our self is denied the possibility of change.
Something very different happens when we recognise what isn’t right for us and start saying yes to our self. This isn’t always the easiest of steps but it can be the most rewarding.
So what does saying yes look like?
On the one hand it involves re-engaging our capacity to affect change in our lives, understanding how things aren’t working, or what may support us more in our life. Counselling can help you to get back in touch with your strengths, skills and resources, increasing your self-confidence so you can create new opportunities in the types of environment that can best support you in who we are.
It means noticing what works and what doesn’t, and having the patience and resourcefulness to start all over again when things fall apart. Of course there can be blocks along the way. Saying yes means taking the courage to confront these, one at a time, systematically breaking through the obstacles towards something that sustains you more fully.
It means saying yes to vitality by re-engaging with exercise, movement, and any type of physical activity that feels pleasurable. Counselling can support you in learning how to use breathing to increase your self-support and vitality. It can help you connect with feelings which, left unexpressed, are keeping you stuck.
Saying yes means doing things for pleasure not obligation, more of the time, and finding the key to doing this when it may not seem obvious how.
It means calling back to ourselves all the parts we may have pushed away, to protect them, discarding their relevance or longings that couldn’t be be fulfilled, or even skills we may have brushed aside.
It’s about really getting how much we count, and how each one of us has a unique contribution to the world, even though we may not always know what that is at first.
Notice what you predominantly say no to, and what you say yes to. Notice what you feel you can’t change, and what would make all the difference if you could change it. Each person has their own key to experience life differently, although in the labyrinth of our experience, it isn’t always obvious where these keys lie. A counsellor can be very helpful in these moments, supporting you to untangle your situation into a wider range of choices and possibilities.
This is just one of the many reasons we need to connect with others when we can’t see alternatives in our situation. It also nourishes our basic human need for connection and relationship, supporting us back to a sense of wholeness and trust in ourselves and our lives.
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- Why counselling for depression works
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