Gregory Jantz, Ph.D.
Depression can come when we feel bound to repeat the negative patterns of our past. Through an honest evaluation of our past and present relationships, we come to understand who we are and what we bring to each of our relationships.
As you review past relationships, take some time to examine your current relationships. Many times our present relationships are a direct reflection of the quality and content of our past relationships.
If our childhood experience is negative, we often choose to engage in similar relationships as adults. For example, a child with alcoholic parents will often be drawn to an alcoholic spouse. A child growing up with an overbearing parent will often choose to marry the same sort of person. We seek the familiar, even if that familiar is negative.
Write down the significant people in your life, listing each person by name and relationship. Special people in your life need not to be confined to family. They can be co-workers, friends, mentors, or acquaintances. How does each person relate to you? Is it a positive or a negative way? Does the present relationship mirror a past relationship?
Be aware of any people who are represented under major activities in your life. For example, you may not think of a coworker as a significant person in your life until you realize how much time you actually spend together. Look for that positive, filling person who might emerge out of a draining activity. This is definitely a significant person in your life!
What does each relationship tell you about yourself? Who are you in that relationship? As you examine your role in each, consider whether you are a filler or a drainer in that relationship. If you consider yourself to be both, is the positive or the negative more predominant? Do you believe that person would concur with your assessment?
It is an unfortunate fact of human nature that we often emulate the very patterns we dislike. If you have several draining relationships, you will want to examine your own role to see if you are the common negative denominator.
While it is important to acknowledge the past and understand its effects on the present, it is also important to know that you have the opportunity to make positive changes for your future. There are people you will want to intentionally spend time with, and you may consider approaching them to articulate your desire to mutually support each other.
As you recover from depression, you may find that your circle of support will not come from the members of your family. It may be necessary for you to use other relationships to provide the support you need.
Those who love you will come to accept the positive changes in your life, even if you present yourself differently. This change, away from depression and toward recovery, will benefit not only you but also your current relationships.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.