Since my last personal update, three breakthroughs, no breaks. Three months with some good news, some bad. February was slow, with only nine worksheets. In March I did thirty-three and in April, twenty-eight. As promised, I addressed the thought “I am not accomplishing enough” and “I have depression.” I also did excavations on my feelings of depression and guilt. I’ll start with the good news: I discovered that I am accomplishing enough and that I don’t have to be perfect (a thought I found to be at the core of my guilt). So, yeah–good stuff. Significant.
I share shortened versions of my Work on the latter statement below. It shows how I turned the thought around, but it doesn’t show my inner shift. It would be impossible for me to accurately assess the changes that have occurred, much less describe them. I suppose I can tell you that I no longer have these thoughts every day. And when they do come, there’s the Work, following right behind. Saying in my ear, “Is it true?” The Work is never a one-time healing session; it’s a living creature with a specific, ongoing job to do. It gets assigned to a thought much like a blocker would be assigned an opponent in basketball. It follows the thought up and down the court, sometimes stealing the ball, sometimes missing. Even when it gets outmaneuvered, it’s never far from its player.
Now for the bad news. While I feel secure in my progress on my guilt and my compulsive need to achieve, my depression–that beast–is unchanged. In my last update I mentioned it was still with me and since that time, not a damn inch of ground gained. If anything I would say it’s worse than it has been all year. An example of my Work on the topic is below, and though as I was writing these turnarounds I believed them to be true, I’m really slogging through these beautiful spring days. The skeptic in me would say that the Work is inadequate; I seem to abolish one stressful thought only to replace it with another. On balance, I am less happy than I have been since starting this detox, even though I’ve made lots of progress.
I’m not feeling guilty. I’m not hating motherhood. I’m not obsessing about how much writing I’m getting done. I’m more at ease in my relationships, and generally less negative.
But for all that, I’m not feeling good.
Here, my Work examples for February, March and April.
Beliefs Behind My Sadness: An Excavation
I am heartsick. I am lonely. I have depression. I am depressed due to a genetic predisposition towards depression. I have negativity. I have stressful beliefs. I don’t love myself. Others don’t love me. I am incomplete. My life is incomplete. I am lacking. I am deprived of love, fulfillment, beauty, accomplishments, fun, ease, relaxation, the state of meditation, friendship, caring, yummy food, goodness, enoughness. There’s something I am missing. There’s something I need to do have or be that I am not doing having or being right now. I need to do more, have more, figure out more, change, be different. My life is not perfect yet. I am not perfect yet.
The thought from above that resonates the most: I am depressed due to a genetic predisposition towards depression.
Is it true? I don’t know.
How do I feel when I think the thought? Stuck. Conditioned. Hopeless.
How would I feel without the thought? Free to feel any way I feel, without judgment of that feeling and without identity creation around it.
The turnaround: I am not depressed due to a genetic predisposition towards depression.
Evidence: I can be and regularly am free or partly free from depression. When I’m immersed in something enjoyable, I’m not depressed. Also, I have experienced true, pure inner peace at certain moments in my life. This couldn’t occur if I had a permanent physical condition. My depression may be a result of lifelong thought habits that I can change over time. Or it may be a result of my current belief system, which can change in just a moment.
Beliefs Behind My Guilt: An Excavation
I should: take more walks with the kids, drive the kids more places, visit friends more, be a better person, be a better friend, be perfect, be less judgmental, do the work more, eat much less, eat healthier, not let baby cry, be more sympathetic to my kids, not take on so many outside projects, take day each week to just play with and read to kids, do more school work with Claus, not give the kids so much candy, help the kids through their fights more carefully and thoroughly, meditate all day, embrace boredom, give the kids more vegetables, be cooler, be a loner, be self-sufficient, be more caring and giving, be less selfish, be in the state of meditation all day long, do my own projects only when I have a nanny, sit more, walk more, nap more, smile more, write more, get more accomplished, do the Work more, and be more in control of my kids.
The thought from above that resonates the most: I should be perfect.
Is it true? No.
How do I feel when I think the thought? Absolutely frustrated with myself.
How would I feel without the thought? I would be able to forgive myself for wasted time and other mistakes, small and large.
The turnaround: I don’t have to be perfect. I shouldn’t be perfect. I am perfect enough. I am entirely perfect. All of these statements feel more true to me than my original thought.
Evidence: No one is perfect. Imperfect people still have wonderful, close relationships, fulfilling jobs and meaningful, happy lives. People forgive them, and they forgive themselves. In fact, if someone always did and said the right thing, it would hinder their ability to learn and grow and help others do the same. It would probably mean they weren’t taking on any challenges.
Other stressful thoughts I worked on:
- K is trying to take advantage of me.
- K is a blamer.
- That writing critique was mean.
- Life is hard.
- The kids should not cry so much.
- The kids need me constantly.
- The kids need more attention than I give them.
- I am not enjoying my life.
- My husband takes me for granted.
- I am ten pounds too heavy.
- I am bored.
- My back hurts. It should not be hurting.
Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.
After Rachel and Matthew had their first child, they had a couple of fights. Well, okay, more than a couple—they fought for over three years. They fought about schedules. They fought about bad habits. They even fought about the lawn mower. And besides actually having their child, it was the best thing that could've happened. Get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Story on Amazon now.