As we become depressed, or sometimes before, we can believe that we must do or have certain things or we must live in a certain way. For example, I believe that I must never fail, that I must always make others happy, and that others must always like me.
This is draining and takes constant brain power to maintain. There can also be irony in our ‘musts’; at times I can be so in need of success and scared of failure, that I can withdraw completely and not try at all.
The key here is to change your ‘musts’ into preferences. For example, I would prefer not to fail, but if I do this isn’t the end of the world’. Reducing the strength of your musts can result in you being happier when you are less controlled by these internal rules.
Another thing that can change our perspective is the way we treat ourselves. Depression can cause us to speak negatively to ourselves and to take the blame for most things, whether they be our fault or not. However most life events arise due to a combination of circumstances. When we are depressed, it can be helpful to take a step back and think of the real reasons as to why something has happened. This way we can learn to accept alternative explanations instead of blaming ourself instantly.
Self criticism can lead to the following problem; I only accept ‘me’ if I do ‘it’ well. The ‘it’ can be anything you judge as important. For example, “I’ll only accept myself if I pass these exams with a first”. This means that your successes lead to self-acceptance, but failure leads to self-dislike.
This kind of thinking leads to ‘I’m only as good as my last performance’ which is something I suffer with immensely. However, whether we succeed or fail the essence of our being has not changed, it does not make us a better or worse person, and this is what we have to remember.