I absolutely love my job! For 26 years as a counselor, I have been blessed with the honor of working with thousands of people who I found incredibly delightful – friendly, warm, sensitive, funny, smart, creative! I look forward to spending time with these amazing women and men.
But that is not how they see themselves. Oh no! They have been deceived by another of Depression’s lies: “There is something wrong with me; I’m just not lovable.”
Listen to Kendra in a therapy session after a friend’s wedding:
“I’m so depressed. I had a good time at the wedding, but as the evening wore on, I felt more and more alone. I just know I’ll never get what my friend has; I’ll never be loved like she is. There’s something wrong with me deep inside; I’m just not loveable. I’ve felt it all my life. Even as a child I felt I was a big disappointment to my parents.”
(If you read my other two blogs in this series – the links are below – I’m sure you can spot the first lie – give yourself a quarter for every absolute that is not absolutely true! You can also hear the second lie, “You’ll never feel any better.”)
There’s actually two parts to this lie. The first part is “Everything that anyone has ever taught me about who I am is correct.” The second part is “You have to be perfect to be loved/loveable.” I will cover the second part in my next blog in this series.
Depression repeats a lot of nasty messages that you have picked up over the years. If as a child you repeatedly heard “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t be such a scaredy-cat. You’re just being a cry-baby.” then you will incorporate these messages into what I call your ‘Core Belief System.’
Your Core Beliefs are internalized messages from your family, friends, teachers, coaches, culture, and society, which over time eventually become your definition of who you think you are, “I’m a cry baby. I’m a scaredy-cat.”
You might wonder why this is a lie – it seems like the truth, but it isn’t. Labeling someone ‘a cry-baby’ or ‘a scaredy-cat’ is just an opinion – it is not a fact. If you don’t believe me feel the effect of this message instead, “I know you are scared, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Take a deep breath and see if that helps you stop crying.”
The trouble is you can teach a child to believe anything. I tell my clients that’s how racists are made – babies are not born hating someone based on their appearance. If you repeatedly tell a child “All Slobbovians are dirty people” then the child will come to believe it – whether it is the truth or not.
So if you repeatedly heard as a child “No one loves a fat girl” you will believe it – whether it is true or not. I hope you can find the absolutes in that sentence, “No one! Not one! In the whole world there is not one person who would love a fat girl?!” (Give yourself another quarter.)
Your Core Beliefs may be so deep that you don’t actually “hear” them – you just feel them. And because you’ve felt them for so long, you are not actually aware of them – you just believe them to be true. But just because you’ve believed them for a long long time, does not make them true. They are still just lies that Depression tells you!
Think about all the Core Beliefs that you believe about yourself. Have you ever really studied them? Where did they come from – or more accurately, who did they come from?
Many of my clients were told they were drama queens, too loud, too flamboyant – the exact qualities that I find so delightful! I often ask them, “Who says you’re too flamboyant? What is it about that person that would make them not like flamboyance?”
So now that you’ve uncovered your Core Beliefs what do you do about them? Well just recognizing that you believe certain things about yourself is the first step. The second step is recognizing when you are repeating the belief to yourself. The next step is to question the validity of the belief – is it someone’s long ago opinion or is it a fact – a true fact, and not just another Lie from that lying liar Depression.
Get in touch with your inner Rebel and ask, “Who says?! Who says I am too loud?” Tell yourself, “”Even if I am loud, are people who are loud loveable? Yes!”
I’ll go into the other half of this Lie in my next blog article.
Here’s the links to the first two articles in this series:
Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is the director of The Awakening Center which she founded in 1994.