Depression and the Healing of the Inner Child. G. Hartwell (April 4, 2018)
In human psychology it is quite normal to expect a variety of causes to create a particular set of symptoms. This is called multiple causation. For this chapter on depression the chemical and neurological aspects of depression are ignored while we focus on three aspects of human psychology: Heart, Soul and Human Spirit.
Also as a psychotherapist my job is to focus on personality, emotions, emotional memories and childhood factors. Medical doctors and psychiatric specialists will focus on genetics and brain activity and the use of medication. Medication is often essential for some people to get their brain functioning correctly so they can focus on traumas that need healing and core beliefs that need correcting. The wise man considers a variety of counsellors and learns from a variety of perspectives.
As a Christian counsellor I will look at heart, spirit and mind. Heart means the emotional brain - the reservoir of significant personal memories and the core beliefs formed an the basis of these experiences.
The human spirit means one's core self - the inner being that gives life and meaning to our physical life. The human spirit is our true inner being that loves and is loved, develops empathy, creativity, and is the source of intuition and inspiration.
The human mind is the more rational logical source of thinking based on verbal information. So language is necessary for the mind to think and reason. But the Heart has reason that the mind knows not of, and the Human spirit has reason that the mind knows not of. The mind is not usually directly aware of what is happening at the heart or spirit level of consciousness. The mind cannot control or easily change the core beliefs of the heart or the state of being of the spirit.
When we look at depression from the point of view of our Inner Child, we are are looking at what has happened in the heart and what is the effect on the human spirit.
T understand this you need to be able to feel and intuit the truths here. One way to do this is to teach someone else. Information gets hoarded by the rational mind and we have to find a way to get this information past that barrier and making a difference to heart and spirit.
Consider these question using your feeling and intuition.
Would these experiences depress your Inner Child? 1. Rejection? 2. Social Isolation? 3. Loss of a friend? 4. Absence of a loving parent? 5. Having to take care of a weeping, weak parent? 6. Being yelled at unfairly by a parent you want to please? 7. Failing to achieve your goals?
At another level, How would your inner child feel about: 1. Feeling rejected by God? 2. Feeling distant from God? 3. Not feeling God’s love? 4. A life lacking joy? 5. Feeling guilty about yourself? 6. Feeling condemned by your own thoughts? 7. Always being afraid something will go wrong?
Depression and Nurture of the Human Spirit
Lets try thinking about depression in relation to our Inner Child need for love and the human spirit’s need for love and bonding. Let us consider the human spirit to need nurture like any living thing needs food and water.
Let us consider depression the result of being cut off from nurture.
Then we need to consider that what causes us to be cut off from nurture make an external cause or internal. Internal causes means that we cut ourselves off from nurture.
We will note that depression is what we feel when we experience no love and feel no joy. Depression is what it feels like to run our of life energy. To ‘run on empty.’ When love and life no longer flows freely to our spirit it like a candle flickering out or a like a battery running down.
The Sources of Nurture for the Human Spirit
Although, nurture for our spirit comes ultimately from God, it is also flowing through our experiences with life and with people. A child, it seems, must experience love first from mother and father. God as the Source of all love seems to have chosen to partner with parents. The psychological meaning of original sin is that children have no choice but to be shaped by the culture, family and parents they are born in to. To read Piaget on child development is to realize that thinking for ourselves and making our own choices is not really possible until the teen years.
We can be cut off from nurture by others who shun us, isolate us and who are unable to love. We can cut off nurture by isolating ourselves from others, cutting off from them, resenting them and not forgiving them.
Clearly loneliness, social isolation being cut off from human relationships is depressing whether it is done to us or we do it to others. For we often cut ourselves off from nurture by our own actions, thinking, and failures to love others.
Once we know that depression is a condition of our human spiritthat indicates that we are not receiving enough nurture, we can make plans in our life to avoid or reduce depression. Here is some indications of what to include in your plan.
Finding Your Way Out of Depression - Building your Plan
Here are points to consider in building a personal plan to escape from depression:
1. In planning to recover from your state of depression consider, perhaps one day at a time, over many days, to increase love by getting out of social isolation and connecting with only those who are nurturing to be with. Ask yourself things like “what would it take to have some great new friends to show up in my life?” Try to find find people who have qualities you admire. Be around the people you feel good around. See less of those you find particularly draining. Often life satisfaction come through the common everyday activities of work, friends, family, loved ones and sexuality. If one or more of these areas are poor sources of satisfaction we may need to take action to correct our life.
2.We need the love, encouragement, peace and joy that comes from our connection with God. At times praising God opens a flow of joy even while we are deep in grief. Paradoxically we receive from God when we are in the acting of loving God and loving others. Even in worshipping God we are receiving from God. If this flow of nurturing life/love is missing we naturally become depressed . Our inner being runs on life/love. Life/Love is food and water to our soul. . This comes essentially from ultimate Source of Life (God) and secondarily from our physical life on planet Earth.
3. Our direct connection with God/Source is important and can be further enhanced by connection with nature, beauty, physical activity. We do this by responding with awe, delight, praise and thanks to the beauty that God puts into life.
4. You need to express yourself in whatever way is open to you. If you write - write. If you play an instrument - play. If you do artistic activities - do your art. Your creative expression helps life to flow into and through you. Creative activity involves a flow from the source of life/love through you and to others. You are nurtured in that flow.
5. Recreation: Ask yourself what are the activities that leave me feeling good and what are the places that I like to be to feel refreshed or relaxed.
6. When others praise, support and encouragement us our spirit is nurtures unless we block it. We receive all this life/love, for example, in the form ofform others unlessIf we turn away praise and encouragement from others we can become depressed. By discounting compliments and minimizing praise we reducing nurture for our Inner Child.
7. Learn how to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones by focusing more on solutions rather than going on about the problems. Learn to look for the positive in situations instead of the negative. Shift toward optimism.
8. If you live with technology - television, smart phones, computer games and so on - then you end up living indoors like a bear in hibernation. But these screens do not nurture your spirit even as addicting as they can be to your mind. To be nurtured by nature you need to break away: walk outdoors, spend time by water, hold hands, get sunshine (without glasses with uv screens), have outdoor fun, walk your dog, look for trees to admire, take care of plants, smell the roses, enjoy while thanking God for His presence in all of nature. Take a break at least 5 minutes per hour. Look around. 9. Learn how to shut down a lot of your negative self talk. Our Inner Parent is often causing depression in our Inner Child be criticism, guilting, creating worries, and negating fun, enjoyment and good experiences for our Child. In order to be creative over come inner critic. Learn to be unapologetic, even proud, of your artistic self-expression. 10. In addition to having a support system, begin to be your own support system. Have faith in yourself and put that into your self-talk. You will become more confident and self reliant. Say ‘I am capable’ or ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Find a therapist or other person who supports your truest most authentic self. People who are gentle (not controlling), and empathic listeners will provide you the space to find your own identity.
Prayers and Action Points:
1. Ask God to help you ask, believe and receive great friends in your life” Picture what that would be like. 2. Picture Jesus speaking directly to you and using your name and speaking words of encouragement.
3. Begin the write letters to God and give Him time to reply (write what you can imagine a loving God say in response). You may never feel alone again.
4. Make a list of the activities that used to bring you joy, contentment and satisfaction. Take small steps back into those activities.
5. Make a Praise Journal. Record the good things in each day so you learn to focus on, remember and have a record of things you can be thankful for. Learn to thank God for small blessings. Look for trees, clouds, sky, beautiful people to enjoy in your day.
6. Use the ‘Put it on the Altar prayer to let go of others and give them to God.’ 7. Make your prayers statements of praise. For example, ‘God you put all the stars in place and you can bring friends into my life that are a good fit for me. Thank you for doing that.’
8. If you can’t be there in your calm nature place, then go there in your imagination. Take 5 minutes with eyes closed to picture being there and fill in all the details. See chapter: ‘The Father’s Garden.’
9. Use the ‘Here comes the Judge’ prayer to deal with the Inner Judge that is always criticizing your Inner Child. See Chapter: ‘Here Comes the Judge.’
10. Where do you want to go? Become who you meant to be. How do you get there from here? By heading in that new direction, one step at a time. When praying ask yourself ‘What is the outcome that I want. As you pray picture that.’