A good self-help book is worth its weight in therapy fees. I recommend many books for my patients to read between session hours but none as often as this one. Today I am quoting directly out of Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy, by Dr. David Burns. While reviewing a chapter I wanted to copy for a woman who had trouble seeing the value in her work as a stay at home mother, I found this reminder:
…There is no such thing as a worthless human being.
“Then how can I develop a sense of self-esteem?” you may ask.
The answer is – you don’t have to! You don’t have to do anything especially worthy to create or deserve self-esteem; all you have to do is turn off that critical, haranguing, inner voice. Why? Because that critical inner voice is wrong! Your internal self-abuse springs from illogical distorted thinking. Your sense of worthlessness is not based in truth, it is just the abscess which lies at the core of depressive illness.
So remember three crucial steps when you are upset:
1. Zero in on those automatic thoughts and write them down. Don’t let them buzz around in your head, snare them on paper!
2. Read over the list of ten cognitive distortions. Learn precisely how you are twisting things and blowing them out of proportion.
3. Substitute a more objective thought that puts the lie to the one which made you look down on yourself. As you do this, you’ll begin to feel better. You’ll be boosting your self-esteem, and your sense of worthlessness (and, of course, your depression) will disappear.