Rules for Living. Which ones lead to Depression and Anxiety ?
We all adopt rules for living. We may also call them moral codes or principles. They can develop and change over time but most of our rules are firmly fixed in Core Beliefs and assumptions about life that we establish as children. They are often resistant ( but not impossible) to change even when we have more experience in life .
Rules help us to be safe and successful. They contribute creatively to our personality and sense of self. Everything we learn thereafter is compared to and measured up to the rules of life that we have established.
But not all rules are good for us. In amongst our code of living are dysfunctional rules.
They become dysfunctional because of the following;
- They are built on mis-interpretations of life, errors in how we perceive or understand events and experiences.
- The rules worked at some earlier stage in our life but no-longer work for us in our current situations.
Some of the most common dysfunction rules are;
1. To be Happy I must succeed in everything I do.
2. To be Happy I must be fully accepted by every person I meet.
3. If i am not the best then i am nothing.
4. Making a mistake would be awful for it shows i am inept.
5. Others determine my value, worth and success in life. It is their judgment that matters.
6. I cannot face life if I don’t feel Loved. If I am abandoned I am worthless and unloveable.
7. If someone disagrees with me, it means they are criticising me personally.
8. I must grab every opportunity that comes my way. Otherwise my end might be failure and mediocrity.
Those of us who strongly identify with these dysfunctional rules (either consciously or unconsciously), are much more likely to suffer from common mental health issues such as Depression, Anxiety and OCD. They produce a fixed, non-adaptive way of thinking that make it difficult to react appropriately to unpredictable thoughts and events that go on in our world.
The good news is that we don’t have to be slaves to them. There are now decades of research that say we can change the way we think, and by doing so we lead ourselves out of destructive thought patterns that taint our experience and steal our happiness. With the help of a trained professional you can equip yourself with strategies to challenge your negative thinking and begin to see the world in a different way. The mind is like a muscle, the more you repeatedly train it to perceive situations differently, the easier and more automatic it becomes to adopt more healthy and positive outlooks.
This is not positive thinking. Real suffering is suffering no matter how you think about it. This is about thinking authentically. Seeing experience as it really is and responding in a appropriate and positive way.