Humans are able to think about themselves as if they were thinking about someone else. We have feelings and make judgements about ourselves; there can be things that we like or dislike; we have relationships with ourselves that can be healing or unhelpful and even abusive.
If we are honest we can think or say things to ourselves, and feel emotions (anger and contempt) towards ourselves, that we wouldn’t dream of directing towards other people. We recognize that if we treated others like that it would be abusive. But we treat ourselves like that, especially if we fail in some way, make mistakes, do things we regret, or just feel bad. At the times we need compassion, we actually give it to ourselves least. Because we believe that somehow being critical, harsh, disliking or even hating ourselves is deserved or can be good, we continue to do it. However, self-criticism, especially feelings of anger, frustration or self-contempt, is bad for your brain.
Your sense of yourself is always with you, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. It makes sense to learn how to have a relationship that is friendly, supportive, healing and stimulates the positive emotion systems in our brain rather than the threat systems. In depression, thoughts and feelings about oneself can become very negative. Sometimes, depression can be triggered by conflicts and splits in families, for example. The depressed person may feel defeated and trapped by these family complications. Sometimes depressed people feel bad about being depressed and the effect this is having on them and others around them, but they do not feel that they are bad or inadequate as people; they blame the depression.
Nevertheless, many depressed people have a poor relationship with themselves. A poor relationship with oneself can pre-date a depression or develop with it.
We live in a world that is very judgemental and treats us rather like objects. At school, being chosen to play on the football team, getting our first job and so on, we are surrounded by people who can do better than us, who we feel are more attractive, more capable, and so on. What is worse – in schools, through our media and in workplaces, we are constantly encouraged to compare ourselves with others – are we as good as them; as clever, attractive or slim; or as wanted? The more people feel under pressure to avoid being seen as inferior compared with others, the more vulnerable to stress, anxiety and depression they are.
Although it can be very difficult to avoid making social comparisons, here are some ideas to think through to help you think about how social comparison works with you.
When you compare yourself with others, choose a target who is most like you: in other words, avoid comparing yourself with those who are clearly a lot better in certain ways. If a comparison turns out badly, consider the reasons and evidence why this comparison may not be an appropriate one for you. We have different genes, backgrounds, talents and abilities – it is not a level playing field.
Think about the reasons for your comparison: Although comparing ourselves with others is very natural, recognize that it can be harmful and keep in mind why you want to do it – what’s the point of it for you? If it has value, such as giving you something you can try to copy, or if it inspires you, that’s fine, but if it depresses you – not fine.
If you do compare and feel down, avoid attacking yourself: try to remember that there are always people who are better at doing certain things or have more, but it does not make you a failure or inadequate because you can’t do these things or don’t have as much.
Think of your life as your own unique journey, with its own unique ups and downs and challenges: Although you might want to live the life of someone else, this is not possible. Focus on you as yourself rather than you as compared with others.
Self criticism and blaming occurs when we look for the reasons or causes of things – why did such and such a thing happen? When we are depressed, we often feel a great sense of responsibility for negative events and so blame ourselves. Sometimes we self-blame because maybe as children we were taught to. Whenever things went wrong in the family, we tended to get the blame. Even young children who are sexually abused can be told that they are to blame for it – which of course, is absurd. Sadly, adults who are looking for someone to blame can simply pick on those least able to defend themselves.
One reason we might self-blame is that, paradoxically, it might offer hope. For example, if a certain event is our fault, we have a chance of changing things in the future. We have (potential) control over it and and so don’t have to face the possibility that, maybe, we actually don’t have much control. In depression, it is sometimes important to exert more control over our lives, but it is also important to know our limits and what we cannot control.
If your internal bully is getting out of hand, you may want to try the following: In as warm and friendly a way as you can manage, say to yourself:
– I understand that my self-hatred is highly destructive; certainly not very compassionate.
– Am I a person who values hatred?
– If I don’t value hatred and can see how destructive it is, maybe I can learn to heal this part of myself.
– I know perfectly well that, if I cared for someone, I would not treat them with hatred.
– Am I as bad as Hitler? No? Then maybe I need to get my hatred into perspective.
– Maybe I have learned to hate myself because of the way others have treated me. If I attack myself, I am only repeating what they did to me.
– I can learn to be gentle to my hatred – just be in compassionate self mode and then see how hate covers up hurt and fear. That might be tough! But that is the compassionate path I’d like to take, even if it is small steps at a time.
– First, I commit myself to recognizing my self-hating part as understandable but unhelpful, linked to the hurt – and then build on my desire to heal it.
We need to consider, too, that we hate what hurts us or causes us pain. Rather than focusing on hatred, it is useful to focus on what the pain and hurt is about. If you discover that there are elements of self hatred in your depression, don’t turn this insight into another attack.
The tough part in all this is that you will need to be absolutely honest with yourself and decide whether or not you want you want hatred to live in you. When you decide that you do not, you can train yourself to become its master rather than allowing it to master you. However, if you are secretly on the side of self-hatred and think it’s reasonable and acceptable to hate yourself, this will be very difficult to do, and it will be hard to open yourself to gentleness and healing. For some people, this is a most soul-searching journey.
Someone once said “The hard part was realizing that, whatever had happened in the past and whatever rage and hatred I carried from those years, the key turning point had to be my decision that I had had enough of my hatred. Only then could I start to take the steps to find the way out.”
And, of course, it is not just with depression that coming to terms with and conquering hatred can be helpful. Many of our problems of living together in the world today could be helped if we worked on this. We all have the potential to hate – there is nothing abnormal about it. The primary question is, how much will we feed our hatred?
So to conclude…
The way we treat ourselves is quite complex, but the basic question is, can we be a friend to ourselves when things go wrong and we mess up? It is easy to criticize ourselves. Compassion self support is harder but well worth working for. Perhaps you can write a letter to yourself that might look like this:
Blog post reference
Book: ‘OVERCOMING DEPRESSION’ (Fully revised 3rd edition) by PAUL GILBERT
100 Beautiful Things You Deserve Forever
100 Beautiful Things You Deserve Forever
Even if you believe you don’t deserve these things, trust me – you do.
1. You deserve to feel grateful that you’re alive and breathing.
2. You deserve to be happy, even on your bad days.
3. You deserve to wake up every morning and smile.
4. You deserve to heal from all the things that keep weighing you down.
5. You deserve to find happiness in the simplest of things.
6. You deserve to be supported no matter what life throws at you.
7. You deserve to be loved for being you.
8. You deserve to be loved unconditionally even when you’re difficult.
9. You deserve to laugh and enjoy life more.
10. You deserve to be like a flower that grows through the dirt.
11. You deserve to be your best self.
12. You deserve to be successful.
13. You deserve to let go of toxic people and situations.
14. You deserve to move forward in life.
15. You deserve to leave friendships that don’t help you grow.
16. You deserve to stay away from people that keep harming your soul.
17. You deserve to be at your best version ever.
18. You deserve to feel beautiful, even when you don’t feel like it.
19. You deserve to be someone who has a smile that never fades.
20. You deserve to be someone who is full of love, light and life.
21. You deserve to be celebrated, even if it’s just by yourself.
22. You deserve to give yourself a break from all the hard work that you do.
23. You deserve to take yourself out on dates.
24. You deserve to treat yourself on the things that make you happy.
25. You deserve to achieve all your goals and dreams.
26. You deserve to be a powerful human being.
27. You deserve to feel strong no matter how weak you feel.
28. You deserve to have a loving and supportive family.
29. You deserve to love yourself.
30. You deserve to see nothing but good in other people.
31. You deserve to be surrounded by light, not darkness.
32. You deserve to look in the mirror and feel proud of what you see.
33. You deserve to feel like you matter.
34. You deserve to overcome all your hardships and problems.
35. You deserve to be someone people can look up to.
36. You deserve to be a good parent.
37. You deserve to have children that will always respect you.
38. You deserve to have a beautiful pregnancy experience.
39. You deserve to marry a faithful spouse.
40. You deserve to be a great supportive wife.
41. You deserve to be a great supportive husband.
42. You deserve to be someone your family can always rely on.
43. You deserve to have everything under control.
44. You deserve to live your life stress free.
45. You deserve to overcome your depression that keeps drowning you.
46. You deserve to overcome your horrible anxiety.
47. You deserve to have blessings fill your life.
48. You deserve to wake up everyday and feel like your life is a happy miracle.
49. You deserve loyalty, royalty and respect.
50. You deserve so much but you don’t understand it.
51. You deserve to sleep in all positions without feeling like your back hurts.
52. You deserve to not have anything constantly worry you.
53. You deserve to think positively at all times.
54. You deserve to be surrounded by positivity in a world full of negativity.
55. You deserve to go shopping whenever you want to go.
56. You deserve to be financially stable enough to buy whatever you want.
57. You deserve to buy all the latest makeup and fashion trends.
58. You deserve to be a girly girl without feeling shameful about it.
59. You deserve to feel like a strong and powerful man.
60. You deserve to have authority over your own life.
61. You deserve to be the CEO of your own life.
62. You deserve to build and live in your own comfortable home.
63. You deserve to live a luxury lifestyle.
64. You deserve amazing health.
65. You deserve to see a medical report which tells you that you’re healthy.
66. You deserve to be a mentally, emotionally and physically healthy person.
67. You deserve to make mistakes and learn from them.
68. You deserve to feel and be told that you matter, no matter what.
69. You deserve to overcome your struggles.
70. You deserve to let go of your fears and be stronger than them.
71. You deserve to prove your haters wrong.
72. You deserve to succeed through all the problems.
73. You deserve to enjoy the little things.
74. You deserve all the fine things in life.
75. You deserve to ask God for forgiveness.
76. You deserve to sleep peacefully.
77. You deserve to have a healthy timetable.
78. You deserve to have a consistent sleeping pattern.
79. You deserve to get enough sleep to conquer the next day with great energy.
80. You deserve to be in good spirits at all times.
81. You deserve to have friends that bring joy into your life.
82. You deserve to go on adventures where you can make special memories.
83. You deserve to have escape vacations and come back feeling refreshed.
84. You deserve to travel around the world and gain rich experiences.
85. You deserve to be a better person than you ever were before.
86. You deserve to get out of your comfort zone and live life fully.
87. You deserve to become more smarter and intelligent.
88. You deserve to live a very very very long and prosperous life.
89. You deserve to cry, but only out of happiness.
90. You deserve to receive warm hugs that make you feel safe.
91. You deserve to feel safe in such a dangerous world.
92. You deserve to heal from all the bad things you have been through in life.
93. You deserve to see the light where you keep seeing darkness.
94. You deserve to make reality so much better than your dreams.
95. You deserve to know that your past doesn’t define you.
96. You deserve to be looked after and cared for on your weakest days.
97. You deserve to speak your emotions without feeling guilty about it.
98. You deserve to have a voice without feeling small.
99. You deserve to constantly have something great to look forward to.
100. You deserve a life that excites you and makes you want to actually live.
What other things do you deserve that you can add to this list? Please leave a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts 🙂
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100 Deep Quotes And Sayings About Depression That Everyone Should Know (Part 7)
69. Depression is anger turned inward.
70. What do you want to do with your life, then? is often the question I'm asked. To be honest, I don't know. I really don't.
71. The sun stopped shining for me is all.
72. Do you know that feeling? When everything you do seems like a struggle. Where you dont wanna leave the house because you know everyone is judging you. Where you cant even ask for directions in fear that they criticise you. Where everyone always seems to be picking out your flaws. That feeling where you feel so damn sick for no reason. Do you know that feeling where you look in the mirror and completely hate what you see. When you grab handfuls and handfuls of fat and just want to cut it all off. That feeling when you see other beautiful girls and just wish you looked like them.
73. What people never understand is that depression isn't about the outside; it's about the inside. Something inside me is wrong. Sure, there are things in my life that make me feel alone, but nothing makes me feel more isolated and terrified than my own voice inside my head.
74. No reason to feel depressed about being depressed. A depression can be a golden opportunity to collect the pieces and build ourselves anew.
75. Isolation and loneliness are central causes of depression and despair.
76. Sometimes, all you can do is lie in bed, and hope to fall asleep before you fall apart.
77. Pain is always emotional. Fear and depression keep constant company with chronic hurting.
78. I never knew it was possible to be so miserable in so many ways.
79. I wanted a heaven. And I grew up striving for that world -- an eternal world- that would wash away my temporary misery.
81. If you take action while you are made, you will always make the wrong decision.
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