Are You Feeling Depressed?
Whack Beliefs That May Be Ruining Your Day
Posted on 20 November 2015
Depression is a growing issue. I’ve seen increasing numbers of people on Facebook talking about troubles with grief and suicidal ideation. In fact suicide is on the rise not just among teens, where it is at a ten year high, but among the middle-aged as well.
I’ve seen the media ask: what is wrong with these people? I hear people ask: what is wrong with me? A critical question worth considering given the sheer numbers and upswing in suicide is: what’s wrong with our culture such that so many are experiencing mental distress?
In co-dependent families pressure is often put on any family members who start reacting to toxic relationship patterns. They will be isolated and made to feel as if they are the problem. When you have grown up within an abusive environment, it can be difficult to recognise what is amiss because what you are reacting to seems to be the norm. Worse is the terror of ostracisation and defencelessness that might come from questioning.
Here I will list some toxic social myths that may be having you question your sanity.
* All lives have predictable structures with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Many of the myths we are bound to come out of a belief that our lives are like a story, rather than stories are constructs we build from our hopes and dreams. Just because many people in a culture live a life that has a certain shape is no guarantee that it will be true for everyone or even true tomorrow.
* Good people are white, male, straight, “rational”, wealthy, and work regular jobs at large companies.
Those in power have the means to ensure that their lifestyle is portrayed as not only commendable, but the norm. So much of their power has been inherited, and yet people still ask themselves: what’s wrong with me that I can’t attain this? When it comes to the media most of us have never actually seen “normal”.
* Survival of the fittest is interpreted to mean survival of the most brutal, and is seen as natural and inevitable.
This is never what Charles Darwin meant. You can be fit in many different ways, including by forming cohesive and caring social groups.
* You are only of any worth if you are number one (or at least better than someone else).
If you were to receive a haircut from the 150th best hairdresser in the world and you were happy with that cut, what difference does it make whether or not they are number one? Why drive yourself crazy comparing yourself to others in that way. Just care about your work, do your best, and leave it at that.
* You are only as valuable as a person as the size of your bank account.
How does it feel having a price tag hanging over your head all the time? Let it go. People are terrified they will lose out if they do so…nope, you’re staring freedom in the face.
* If you study and work hard, you will have a steady career.
This was mostly true for the Baby Boomers because of the boom-bubble they created, but careers are rarely a straight path. If you are having trouble finding a job, you may need to clean up your style, but there may just not be enough jobs for everyone.
* Your job defines who you are.
Your job reflects what work you were able to land in order to survive. Not having a job or having a job at drive-thru window says nothing of the quality of the person. It says everything about how willing our society is to help its poorest.
* Good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people.
This is known as the “Just Universe Fallacy”. It will leave you perpetually wondering what you did wrong. It also gives people an excuse to treat badly those who are less well off.
* Black is black, white is white, and grey is a little less dark than black.
This makes for a very neat world where you can quickly judge people. The problem is, so much of life is circumstantial. We don’t just experience blacks, whites, and greys. We also experience greens and purples. Where do you classify them? Do they become black in order to keep the system neat? This sort of world negates the possibility of compassion or growth.
* Fame, wealth, power, thrills validate a life and bring fulfillment.
Take a look at all the famous and wealthy people who have committed suicide. These things can bring a moment of pleasure, but they don’t validate in and of themselves.
* You can and should have all the things your ego and marketing tells you that you want: wealth, true-love, power, control, success, fame, ease, etc.
This is the entitlement trap. It’s easy to sell “how-to” books on these things. You then make the author wealthy and spend much of your time angry or depressed wondering what you did wrong.
* We are all just biological machines and have no control over our lives.
This is an easy way to justify irresponsibility and apathy. It’s also very old-fashioned thinking brought into popularity by René Descartes. We have partial control over our lives. That’s not the same as total control, but it’s not the same as no control either.
* People are empty vessels into which knowledge and skills are poured: we are all cogs that can be fit into any machine.
Ask any pyramid scheme operator and they will tell you they can teach anyone to sell their products in so many guaranteed steps. All humans share certain similarities. We are also all unique with our own unique aptitudes. Surely we want the people who are best suited to being doctors practising medicine. Surely we want the people who are best suited to piloting flying our airplanes. We need to respect our individuality.
* We are islands.
No one succeeds without the help of others. No one experiences healthy thought and emotion without healthy relations with friends, family, and co-workers. We need interaction, and more than that we need reliable confidantes who are ready to help us when we need it.
* All families are good and loving.
No. Some are pretty messed up. It’s then up to you to create a family of friends.
* The world is messed up and nothing can be done.
The world is messed up and the world has a lot of people ready to fix things. Have you tried contributing in some way? Have you tried it more than once? Have you shopped around? Trying once and giving up is not an option.
* Commitment is old-fashioned: something quaint and unimaginative that our grandparents were into.
We constantly try to find ways to imprison one another in order to feel safe and in control. This is not commitment. Commitment is valuing the greater rewards that come with sticking to something, such as when your parents stuck with raising you, even though you started life smelly and demanding. We need to commit to protecting the environment, we need to commit to a fair society, we need to commit to in depth friendships, we need to commit to healthy communities. These things will help to turn the world around. Yes, it comes at a cost of having to put up with inconvenience, annoyance, and sometimes outright suffering, but the rewards are substantial.
To overcome these beliefs you have to find a willingness to accept that life will never be easy. You have to be willing to learn compassion, forgiveness, kindness. You have to seek out other people and combine with them to help make a better, kinder world. You will never be able to escape suffering, but if you open your heart, you will at least find some love, joy, and peace,
Peace, kindness, and friendship,