Depression has various origins and can be more like a symptom of an underlying problem than a medical disease (like diabetes or cancer). Depression rarely happens in a vacuum, and the underlying causes of your depression may be obscure. One less obvious, but prevalent, cause of depression is living your life with a false sense of self.
People are perplexed as to why they become depressed. The loss of a loved one, being fired from a job, a romantic split, or even losing one’s home to foreclosure are all examples of evident causes.
Many times, however, sadness appears out of nowhere or gradually sneaks up on you, accumulating so gradually that you don’t realise it until you wake up one day and wonder, “How did things become so bad?” Unlike the popular belief that sadness is simply a “chemical imbalance” (meaning your neurotransmitters are out of whack), depression is usually caused by something, even if you can’t pinpoint what it is.
In truth, depression has various origins and might be more of a symptom of an underlying problem than a medical disease (like diabetes or cancer).
Depression rarely happens in a vacuum, and the underlying causes of your depression may be obscure. One less obvious, but prevalent, cause of depression is living your life with a false sense of self—what I call the “False Self Depression Syndrome.”
Depression is all too often a symptom of being “out of touch” with oneself. Depression, in this sense, is an internal indicator that things aren’t going so well. You may be depressed because you have lost sight of what is important to you, your actual, authentic self.
Your despair may be encouraging you to look within. Are you living the life you want? Are you being honest with yourself?
Are you ignoring or avoiding difficult thoughts or sensations and failing to cope with them? Are you under the influence of alcohol or other drugs? Are you becoming so engrossed in the latest, greatest, trendy fad that you have forgotten who you are?
You could be experiencing life via a fake self! Many social circumstances need you to suppress your genuine sentiments (particularly anger, sadness, fear, and shame) and present with socially acceptable ones (like being humorous or happy).
For example, you may be enraged with your boss but are unable to express your feelings since doing so may threaten your employment. So, instead of yelling, you smile or break a joke, even though you are hurt and angry on the inside. Gradually, a false self emerges, and sadness sets in.
A false self may have emerged as a youngster to protect yourself or fit in with your family, which can lead to sadness. If you displayed anger, you might get hit or disciplined. If you expressed sadness or loss, you were dismissed, disregarded, or belittled. Perhaps no one encouraged you to pursue your own interests or hobbies, and you instead conformed to what your parents desired or required.
You learnt over time that it is simpler to suppress your genuine sentiments and “appear” not to be upset or angry. Or you learned to let go of interests and passions since your parents didn’t approve. Perhaps you never developed interests since you were neglected as a child. You eventually lost touch with yourself, your aspirations and passions, as well as certain fundamental emotions. You were not allowed to have them, so you built a false self—a kind of mask or false identity to fit in—in order to fit in. The “true self,” the part of you that is aware of your inner sentiments, strivings, hopes, and dreams, became buried in the mix, and you eventually became melancholy.
As you associate more and more with your fake self or identity, a “depressed self” develops (a false mask you show to the world). If you adopted a fake self at a young age, you may have forgotten you ever had a true self! In a nutshell, the false self conceals the genuine self; your true wants and feelings are ignored, leading to depression! When your fake ego takes control, you must make changes!
You must be truthful with yourself and connect with your actual feelings. A potent remedy to this type of despair is authentic life and true feeling.
Here are four ways to reconnect with your genuine self. To begin, be as honest as possible in your relationships with others and avoid hiding behind a fake face. Make a point of telling people how you truly feel. This is especially crucial with significant others, but you may discover that you can be more honest and aggressive in your workplace communications as well. Stop acting and start being yourself. Second, start a practice that helps you to be totally present and in the moment, such as yoga or meditation.
These exercises anchor you and assist you to become more grounded and in touch with yourself. Simple mindfulness-based meditation that focuses on the in and out breaths is a good practice. Simply devote 5 minutes per day to focusing your entire attention on the basic in and out of your breathing, gently pushing away distracting ideas and re-engaging with your breathing. A form of this meditation incorporates reconnecting through visuals and healing remarks (click here for a description).
Third, express your creativity through painting, clay moulding, drawing, music, creative writing, or any other practice that connects you with your inner self and allows the real you to emerge in creative, spontaneous ways.
Finally, seriously consider seeing a trained, experienced therapist. Living a fake self is no laughing matter, and many people require professional assistance in regaining their genuine identities.
Reconnecting with your actual self may involve difficult feelings, and you may want the assistance of a professional to help you tune into yourself and move through the pain. In this regard, as a psychologist trained in a variety of approaches to assisting others, I may be of aid to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you or a loved one require assistance in reconnecting with or tuning into an authentic, genuine sense of who you truly are. I offer a free introductory phone consultation.