It’s important to remember how a human being - in fact how any organism - learns. For me, there’s a very simple answer to this question: We learn by practicing. The more we do something, the more we practice it, the better we get at it - and the less we have to think about it. We tend to think of practice in a positive sense - like practicing a sport. But we can also practice very negative things. The problem is, we keep getting better and better at those things, too.
The same way we learn to drive a car or to play the pianoaein exactly the same way, we learn to be depressed. And for many of us, we learn to be severely depressed.
And we learn to be depressed by practicing, by rehearsing thoughts and feelings in our minds over and over and over again until our brain’s submission response is in overload. The frightening part is that when this happens frequently enough, brain chemistry changes. A whole host of anti-depressant drugs are available to help restore this balance. But the root cause is still there. The depression symptoms are merely covered-up.
Depressed persons I’ve worked with often resent the idea that they have “learned” to be depressed. I have frequently been told: “How dare you suggest that I have chosen to be depressed, that I have learned it. I am a victim of depression. Learning has nothing to do with it.”
Right and wrong. Right because no one consciously chooses to be depressed. Wrong because we are all continuously engaged in unconscious learning. Depression is a classic example of unconscious learning. What are we unconsciously practicing? The way we speak with ourselves. What are we unconsciously learning? To feel depressed.