The first reality check is that all of us are part of the flow of life; that is to say we are evolved species. So like any other species on this planet our brains and bodies have been built for us by the genes we’ve inherited from our parents, and they from theirs and they from theirs, back and back into the distant past . Because we are evolved species it means that our brains and bodies are designed to feel and think in certain ways. We, like many other animals , are oriented to seek out food and avoid becoming food.
We wish to have some position in our social groups, to be liked rather than rejected . WE respond well to affection but become distressed by rejection. Your brain, with its capacity for anxiety, anger, envy, lust and of course depression , was not built by you but by your genes.
So your brain has a built -in capacity for a whole range of emotions and desires, but also depression – and that is absolutely not your fault- this is something we will come back to time and again.
The second reality check is the fact that we all just find ourselves here, being born, growing for a while, and then, I am afraid, declining. We are all subject to many ups and downs of life, and many of the major things that happens to us are completely out of our control.
For example, sometimes people lose their jobs because of problems in the economy ; sometimes we can be confronted with illness, or are involved in a car accident , or somebody we love dies. Things can hit us out of the blue again that’s not our fault.
The third reality check is we are partly constructed by our environment. Consider that if I had been kidnapped as a three-day-old baby and brought up by a violent drug gang, this version of me, which was lucky enough to be educated and become a psychologist , would not exist.
It’s likely I would now be quite violent , only interested in myself and my gang and making money. Maybe I would be in prison or even dead. Also because I would not be know anything about this other possible version of myself (the psychologist version ) I might even want to hold on to my identity as a drug baron . I didn’t ask to be kidnapped any more than I asked for the background I actually had; and you didn’t ask for the background that shaped you.
We also know that even our genes are expressed in different ways according to the kind of background we come from.
The fourth realty check is that we are the most social and independent species.that has ever lived on this planet. Every aspect of our lives depends upon the actions of others.
The houses we live in , the food that turns up in the supermarkets, the cars we drive, the medicines we get from doctors – everything comes because of the actions of others.
In fact, even our brains’ ability to generate speech comes because we have evolved to be a highly social and independent species. Now when we become depressed we often forget this and want to do withdraw from those around us or reduce our activities- once again that’s not our fault, but it can have unfortunate consequences.
So we can see then that our tendencies to depression are absolutely not our fault- no one choose to be depressed , no matter what you think about it. This can be quite a humbling insight in some ways , but also quite liberating because we then begin to think about giving up blaming and shaming ourselves for being depressed, or focusing on the negative within us. We are then in a better position to start to stimulate our minds to feel better.
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