Is it any wonder that the prevalence of depression is on the rise the United States? Anxiety disorders are the most reported mental health disorder. This may be two-fold, accounted for by both an increased depressive/anxious feeling within people, and a push to medicate (i.e., more people reporting this to get medicated) away the problem.
How could we feel anything other than depressed when for many people, everything they see in the mirror does not match the images and messages they are told they need to be? How can we expect something other than anxiety from our own push to meet inflated expectations?
The United States is a country of more than 300 million people and rather than embracing the diversity inherent in such a large group of people, people are trying to fit just a handful a labels.
The discrepancy between who we truly are and who we are trying to be is a taxing effort on the mind. To both strive for something we aren't, while disliking who we are takes us further from the goal by sinking us with self hate. The internal effects of depression and anxiety show through in our unhappiness and hypervigilance and get in the way of connecting with people, of finding relationships, and being happy.
Accepting ourselves is not a panacea for depression or anxiety; there are chemical aspects to this that are genetic and biological, but genetic and biological component do not account for the growing proportion of the population who meet the criteria for these mental health issues.
By accepting who we are, we get a better sense of what we are capable of doing and of being. The change that happens then is based on what we have been given to work with, rather than an end goal that isn't even on our own field.
Finding acceptance isn't easy in this day and age. An interesting article by Bruce E. Levine views mental health issues as more of a “rebellion against society.” So how can we begin to find acceptance?
- Acknowledge the accomplishments you have made. It is important to see your capabilities before you can begin to make any changes.
- See yourself as beautiful. Think John Legend's “All of You” lyric: “perfect imperfections.” It can help you better focus on the substantial changes you want to make.
- Follow your strengths, they can take you beyond the limitations you see.
- Know yourself. You can't possibly have a path going forward if you don't know where you are now. Some of this is wrapped up in the first 3 points, but it's more than that. Why do you want (to be) something different? How can you be something different, someone who hasn't had your experiences? Who are you doing this for?
This Topic of the Week was written by Brian Swope, MFT.