After years of meeting with clients in therapy, and from reading literature, I am finding that there is a common thread holding depression and anxiety together. It's that familiar, self criticism and self loathing that we do when we don't live up to our expectations. We get angry with ourselves. Sometimes we call ourselves names, "you stupid, why did you do that?" Many of you know exactly what I'm talking about. It is that thing that makes us sad and worry about not being good enough at the same time. This is a symptom of low self worth, lack of confidence, low self esteem. We beat ourselves up thinking that somehow if we treat ourselves badly enough, we will get better. How is punishing ourselves effective? It isn't. It makes us feel worse and it doesn't make us improve, it makes us fear trying. In order to get better, you have to try. Even if it means making mistakes. So, let me give you an example: if you want to get somewhere while driving a car and you are angry because you are not where you want to be, does it make much sense to stop and get out of the car to yell at yourself? No. Essentially that is what we do when we punish ourselves for our mistakes. We have to keep on going. Of course, I can make many car analogies. Do you know that humans are the only species who drive faster, or run faster, when they are lost? Ever find yourself panicking when you don't know where you are and want to be someplace else? Stop panicking. Slow things down. You will notice more things when you are still. Besides beating yourself up won't get you out of the woods. I see one of the goals of therapy is knowing your mind. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, are you beating yourself up too? Time to look at this and change, especially if it's not helping you.
Patrick Matthews MS LPC
October 6, 2020