Evaluating Past and Present Relationships Contributing to Depression
Depression can come when we feel bound to repeat the negative patterns of our past. Through an honest evaluation of our past and present relationships, we come to understand who we are and what we bring to each of our relationships.
Often times, the greatest joys, but also the greatest insecurities, traumas, and scars can come from our own family. The intentions of adults in a family may not be to pass along negative responses to their children, yet through their own inability to control these responses, they set up negative patterns for their children to follow. As children follow these patterns, the negative perceptions that accompany them become grounded in their lives.
Without ever being told, children develop a working model for life based on the suspicion, insecurity, perfectionism, self-centeredness, frustration, or oppressive behavior of their parents. This model produces feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, all of which suffocate optimism, hope, and joy.
You may have a background where emotional abuse of this type, or worse, was evident in your family. It will not be difficult for you to pinpoint how these negative experiences have impacted your ability to balance yourself emotionally. Or, you may look back at your childhood and conclude your family can’t be a source of your depression because you didn’t have an abusive experience. Take time, however, to really examine the patterns you learned from your family.
This is not a search through your past to assign blame, but rather a mature look at the learned responses from your family to discover those that might be contributing to the strength and longevity of your depression. It is so important for you to be able to identify the burdens from past relationships that may be slowing down your rate of recovery. Once you discover these hindrances, you will be equipped to develop a plan for moving forward.
As you review past relationships, also take some time to examine your current relationships. Many times, our present relationships are a direct reflection of the quality and content of our past relationships. If our childhood experience was negative, we often choose to engage in similar relationships as adults.
Write down the significant people in your life today that are not included in the previous group of family, listing each person by name and relationship. Special people in your life need not be confined to family. They can be coworkers, friends, mentors, or acquaintances. How does each person relate to you? Is it in a positive or a negative way? Does the present relationship mirror a past relationship?
Take time to reflect on the relationships in your life and how you engage with them. This process alone could reveal the reasons for your depression. While it is important to acknowledge the past and understand its effects on the present, it is also important to note that you have the opportunity to make positive changes for your future.
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