The foundation of our prison of depression is our belief that, No matter how good I appear to be, I am bad, evil unacceptable to myself and to other people.
We can go through life being very good, and so keep our sense of being bad, or not being good enough, well hidden from ourselves. But being good at being good means working very hard, and as we get older we lose the resilience and strength of youth.. We get tired. We do not get as much done. Our list of mistakes and wrong directions gets longer. When something happens to shake our self-confidence we can no longer trust our ability to be good at being good. We can no longer ignore our sense of being essentially bad and unacceptable.
The reason that we as children so readily accept our parents teaching that we were bad and had to work to be good was that, harsh though this teaching was, it contains a promise. If you are very good, nothing bad will happen to you. We believed it. When bad things did happen to us, we blamed ourselves. We had not been good enough, so we worked harder, tried to achieve more, to do things better, to put other people’s needs before our own. Secretly this belief gave us a sense of power. Through our own efforts we could control the system of rewards and punishment that governed the universe. Instead of feeling helpless, we felt guilty. Instead of saying, ‘There was nothing else I could have done in that situation, given the information and experience I had,’ we said, ‘I ought to have done better,’ and persuaded ourselves that we were stronger and wiser and better informed than actually we were. By feeling guilty we could feel that we were both virtuous and not helpless.
So we lived in a world of illusion of our own making. Then one day a terrible disaster fell upon us, and we cried, ‘I have been good all my life. Why has this happened to me?’
We found ourselves contemplating, or trying to run away from, a truth which our parents had hidden from us.’
SOURCES: The Successful Self. Freeing our inner strengths. Dorothy Rowe. Page 199.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.