You are not depressed, you are not anxious, you are not poor

Everyone wants friends. These days having friends means having followers, and being followed on social media, and often means identifying with a group. I frequently see posts by people who label themselves as depressed or anxious (and going to counselling). Politicians refer to the poor or the homeless.

What’s wrong with all this is that once someone has labelled themselves as such they have assigned their position — sometimes for life.

  • You are not anxious — you are someone who is currently having feelings of anxiety.
  • You are not depressed. You are prone to feelings of depression.
  • You are not poor. You are someone who at this moment is having to spend more than you receive in income.

You go to counselling for anxiety because you have decided that you are an anxious person. If you are an anxious person do you go to counselling in order to adjust to being an anxious person or to become someone who is not anxious? And if you become someone who is not anxious, what does that do for your sense of self? What happens to your Facebook friends?

There are many types of depression and people can become depressed when a loved one dies, or post-natal depression, or they can become depressed for no apparent reason. I had a client in his sixties who was taking antidepressants. I asked him how long he had been on them. He told me 15 years. Why did he go on them? He said when his father died he became depressed. Now in my view this is medical incompetence. The doctor should have referred him to a psychologist first or at least waited a few months before looking at antidepressants. It’s common to feel depressed when a loved one dies. However, once he had decided that his patient was depressed he put him on antidepressants and the patient having agreed that he was depressed went along with it. And so 15 years later he is still taking the pills.

If you adopt the mindset that these states are temporary you will move through the state. If you decide that you are that kind of person, you will stay stuck in it.

This also applies to many other factors including poverty. I’ve been very rich and I’ve been very poor. When I was poor I saw myself as being a someone who at that time had little money. I didn’t identify with ‘the poor’ as politicians talked about them. People make being poor into a characteristic that identifies them. Of course many people are going to say that if you are uneducated, or black, or live in a poor area it is difficult. Difficult is not impossible and it is easy to blame other people something else rather than taking responsibility. Many educated people are poor, and many uneducated people are rich. Personally I think that most of what passes for education is simply indoctrination and it teaches limitations as much as possibilities, but that’s for another article.

This is for some bad news. It gets back to responsibility. It emphasises what you can do to change my position rather than simply blaming it on genetics, my upbringing, or my environment.

For some that’s good news. You can change.

By Philip Braham on .



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