In my experience, the thoughts that accompany the feeling of depression are merciless. I believe they should be shown as much mercy as they show… which is none.
This week, I had to face up to the consequences of yet another poor decision I had made. The weight of self-condemnation and even self-hatred that accompanied this failure was fierce – far fiercer than appropriate for the setback. I realised that my inner-critic was borrowing from the horror of all the mistakes and bad decisions I’d ever made and rolled them into one vitriolic outpouring of compounded contempt.
In the past, I’ve heard others described as, “a waste of space,” or, “a waste of good air,” or as people who are, “a waste of life.” Harsh, horrible, and inaccurate things to say. This got me thinking about the imagined need to justify our existence – the need to say we’ve lived a good and worthwhile life.
You’ve guessed, this not at all like my normal Monday blogs, and you may strongly disagree with the way I’m thinking about this. That’s OK; it’s a work in progress. The intent is to help anybody else who feels that even a part of their life has been ‘wasted’.
Language is fascinating. Consider the phrase, “granted the gift of life.” We have, some believe, been granted, not loaned, the gift of life. We’ve been granted free air. We’ve been given space. Gifted, granted, given. None of these are loans, and thus none of them need to be paid back or justified in any way, shape, or form.
Grants don’t need to be paid back. Gifts are to be enjoyed in whichever ways the recipient chooses. If you and I have been granted the gift of life… it is perfectly acceptable to ‘waste’ it. It is perfectly acceptable to do with our lives what we choose – even if those choices are often poorly made. We do not have to justify our existence to anybody else or even to ourselves. We don’t owe Life anything, and neither does Life owe us anything. We are free to be as we are – even flawed.
My inner critic was basing its foul condemnation of me on a requirement to ‘be good’, to ‘do well’, and ‘to make the most of my talent’. These are, occasionally, useful messages but not always. So I turned my own critical faculties on my inner critic and declared in my thoughts, “I do not have any requirement to justify myself to myself! I do not need to live a fruitful, worthwhile, good, or productive life. This is an invented requirement!”
This new pattern of thinking was a shock to me, and I wasn’t sure if you’d agree with my thinking. What I am certain of is that it is inappropriate for my mind to exaggerate the ‘feeling bad’ response to a minor setback – I am not the sum of my setbacks but a work in progress that is learning every step of the way. It is time for you and me to be more gentle with ourselves.
A Moodscope member.