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Self reproach in Depression.

Depression — admin @ 1:08 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we continued an ongoing discussion about aspects of depression. We have been looking at the different ways in which depression comes about and trying to identify and separate out aspects of the process that may lead to one of us becoming depressed. Today we want to look at another aspect of our inner critic and the role it plays in depression. We spoke about our inner critic a little while ago and how we believe it is developed throughout childhood. Our inner critic can become our harshest citric and this is central to what happens in depression.

Ordinarily our personality seems to be in a state of balance. One the one side are our hopes and dreams. These tend to be positive and creative and provide the energy for us to achieve things. When things are going well we see meaning and purpose in everyday life. We can maintain a kind of momentum; focusing on daily tasks and feeling generally satisfied with life. The contents of our inner critic can represent the opposing forces to this creative energy and sense of contentment. From time to time something can happen to knock these opposing forces out of balance. When the hopeful side of our personality takes a step back we can be left feeling undefended in the face of the forces of our inner critic.

This can feel like the whole world is against us. One of the most difficult aspects of this is that it becomes internalised. What may have begun with some difficulties or disappointments in our external world becomes an internal struggle. It is as if the reverses we suffer in our working or romantic lives become aligned in our minds with the parts of us that are critical of our own self. We can then retreat from the world in a state of depression as we try to deal with the pain and tend to our emotional wounds. It can feel like there is no escape from a negative view of the world as we try to cope with self reproach. This state of being can become quite fixed. It can evolve into a cycle which we struggle with for years but never quite seem to escape.

Our view of depression is central to the way we practice. An ongoing task in therapy is to try to understand this dynamic internal process of expectation and disappointment. We spend a good deal of time examining these things and trying to understand them. Some practical, short-term therapeutic techniques involve tuning in to our negative thought processes. The idea is that we become more aware of how we are thinking and how this affects how we feel and behave. We can set about challenging these negative thoughts of self reproach that we experience in depression.

A longer term therapeutic approach is to delve into these matters more deeply and to become aware of them at a fundamental level. The goal here is to really get to know the different aspects of our inner life. We can spend some time remembering and reflecting on significant relationships and events from our past. We may identify patterns in how we have responded to these in similar ways over time. We may then get a clearer picture as to what we may really have been trying to achieve or overcome. This will help in building up an inner strength and a sense of confidence in our self. A cycle of becoming fixed in periods of self reproach can be broken in this way. Depression can be overcome by a growing belief in our self and the world which is secure in the face of the opposing forces of self reproach.

Counselling Connections Dundalk.

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