Chronic depression or anxiety may be a sign of a deeper emotional issue called “Disorders of the Self.” When depression and anxiety result from a disorder of the self, short term therapy aimed at better ‘coping skills’ may not be effective. Disorders of the Self are sometimes called “Personality Disorders,” with names such as “Borderline Personality” or “Narcissistic Personality.” The label is less important than the effect of these disorders.
A Disorder of the Self is a repeated difficulty managing life’s challenges. You may have thoughts most or part of the time such as:
- Life just doesn’t work for me.
- Why don’t my relationships work out?
- I’m just not happy, no matter what I do.
- Other people don’t understand me.
You may feel as if your true self is rarely present, or wanted by others. You may be aware that you show a false self. This false self is the key to “Disorder of the Self.”
Disorders of the Self can take several forms but they all have one thing in common: contradictions, such as;
- I’m lonely even around other people.
- No matter how successful I am, it’s never enough.
- I compare myself to others and believe they are better or more capable than me.
- I compare myself to others and a believe I am better than them and I feel uneasy about that.
- Even when I know I’ve done my best, it’s never good enough.
- Even when others praise me for who I am, it doesn’t really feel comforting.
- I try to get close to people, but I end up feeling sad, angry, empty or cheated.
These contradictions occur because while your true self is capable of loving and being loved, your false self is afraid and sabotages what your true self wants.
The answer is to learn to understand this false self and to get to know what it needs to feel safe so it can step aside more often and allow your true self to activate and be seen. It is not an easy thing to do and it can take awhile. Your false self was created to protect you when you were young. It may not be serving you well today.