Depression – Expectation management with worksheet

When depressed we tend to go into survival mode. This means we save as much energy as possible to survive. Therefore you might have noticed depressed people require a lot of energy to do basic chores. When we are depressed we tend to procrastinate not because we are lazy, but because we don’t have the energy. Even bathing, dressing up and cleaning our room feels like a huge task. Everything seems to be a drag and so when depressed we do the bare minimum, the only things that are very necessary to our livelihood.

It answers why we lose interest in our hobbies that once we enjoyed. We don’t feel like doing things and as time passes by we find ourselves in a rut. In this article, I want to elaborate on managing expectations from self or others who are depressed. We are not the same we used to be when not depressed therefore how we relate to every area of our life needs to be re-evaluated.

The worksheet provided with this article will be useful. You can use it for yourself or with your clients. This article will also help you show love and compassion to self or family member.

How to Manage Expectations

Getting a realistic grasp of how we have changed

Before we were depressed we could take up challenges and do different things. But when we get depressed we lose that vigour. So it is important to change how we perceive ourselves. We must look at ourselves at this very moment. If we take the frame of reference of our behaviour/energy/motivation from the past, which does not match up to our current circumstances we will invite more troubles. Anxiety, frustration, disempowerment, self-shaming, guilt and other unhelpful emotions will come up if we continue to see ourselves from the past eye. We have changed so the goals we set should be realistic and reasonable. They should be set on basis of energy levels, motivation, etc that are practically possible for us for now. Not what was possible before we got depressed. It’s ok to not set high goals for a while as we don’t have the resources (energy/vigour/motivation) for it. It’s ok to sit back, allow things to unfold and do some soul searching in the meanwhile.

Breaking habit of being ourself

It’s time to change things. We have changed with depression and so did our world, behaviour, mindset and character with it. We have to stop being ourselves now. We have to break the habit of being ourselves. You don’t need to remain the same person. We feel as if we are bound to be how we have always been. But it is not possible to be the same, a circumstance in our life has changed us and our resistance to act and be new is what keeps us depressed. We try to be who we are no more. We must also allow our clients or friends/family members to act differently if they have been through some depressing stages of their life. Change is the essence and we refuse to change. We keep expecting the same thing from ourselves and others and when these expectations aren’t met we lose tranquillity. It is complete stupidity to expect a depressed person to achieve/behave/be the way he was before the event.

A Buddhist Story

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end when all the seasons are up.

We need to change with seasons.

Our inner-outer world has change

It’s time we recalibrate and get clarity of our mind. As life teaches us lessons we grow, our values change which makes our mindsets and decide if we live a good life or not. If there is dissonance between who you have always been and who you want to be then the depression isn’t going away soon. What we had considered priorities of life has now changed. So we need new goals, new standards, a new attitude, a new mindset, a new way to talk with ourselves, a new way of living and parenting ourselves, a new way of guiding ourselves.

Worksheet: Depression Expectations

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