It may seem these two disparate concepts are hardly related, but they often go hand in hand.
Many of us are labelled at birth by our parents, as the ‘clever’ one or the ‘creative’ one or even the ‘hopeless’ child, which is merely based on how they want us to live their lives.
I had a phone call last year from a close friend, distraught after her elderly Mother had thrown out some of her favourite clothes and childhood possessions. Marianne had recently moved back in to look after her since her Mother’s physical and mental health had deteriorated, but had taken a short break away from the daily grind of being a constant carer.
On her return she had found her wardrobe and chest of drawers invaded, with half of the contents given away to charity. My friend who already suffers from anxiety and self-doubt, was thrown into a major frenzy – and it took her several days to return to any sort of normality, blaming herself for abandoning her Mother.
This was however, the turning point for Marianne, who realised after several months of counselling that it was in fact her Mother’s way of getting Marianne to carry the rage and anxiety she had been feeling herself prior to her outburst.
Added to this Marianne had always been told that out of all of her siblings, she was the one who was the major disappointment, and would never make anything of her life. On the contrary, she has been a high achiever, even more so than her two sisters, but who constantly seeks her Mother’s approval, which is never recognised in spite of her major accolades in her successful career in the City.
How many times do you hear in a marriage or relationship breakup, that the man or woman has to leave because his partner is ‘crazy’. This always sits uncomfortably with me, because you can bet that they will go on to meet someone else and evoke the same pattern of behaviour in their new relationship.
Therapists and psycho analysts call this ‘projection’ as they are in fact again getting their partners to carry their anxiety or feelings of hopelessness so that they don’t have to.
If this is hard to digest, let me give you a very simple example of how it works and how toxic this type of ‘projection’ can be. A close friend who is also an exceptional therapist had a new client several years ago who was suffering from depression, so badly that he wanted to end his life. My therapist friend David spent the entire session baffled by his account of what had happened since his wife’s departure, and at the end of the session told her he felt he was carrying his partner’s feelings of desperation. He left feeling a lot happier.
Two hours later his estranged wife called him saying she was feeling suicidal and wanted to give the relationship another go! He thankfully declined, and as far as I know, has remained anxiety free ever since.
I hope this may be helpful to those of you who are suffering with anxiety and depression, because if you look closely, you may find some of it may not even be yours to carry.
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