19. Depression & Empty Nest Syndrome

A middle- aged lady visited me wanting

to get her life in order. In recent times she had been feeling rather depressed and her anger had been mounting steadily. She was slowly losing the desire to do anything and desperately wanted to regain her drive, so that she could become mentally and emotionally strong.

We discovered that as the youngest sibling of three,

she grew up feeling neglected and had a deep seated fear of being unloved and left all alone. In those early years, she survived the lack of attention by becoming fiercely independent, remaining emotionally detached and deriving her sense of belonging by being of assistance to others.

When others sought her help physically

or emotionally, or needed her assistance in some way, she felt wanted and loved. The more others depended on her, the more fulfilled she felt and the more obsessive became her need to do things perfectly. Unconsciously she became more and more controlling and obsessive about running a meticulous home and attending to every need of her family.

This strategy served her quite well over the

child rearing years as she immersed herself in providing for the kids, being a good homemaker, mother and wife. However as the children became adults and their dependence on her decreased, she started to feel neglected and depressed.

She began losing control over her perfectly

organised life, and this made her very angry. Hidden beneath that anger was her childhood fear of being left alone and unloved. Unfortunately this created a vicious circle where the lack of attention from her grown sons and husband made her depressed and angry.

She would brood over that lack and since

her family didn’t know how to handle her moods, they would leave her alone to deal with it herself. Also her fits of anger made them further avoid her, which only amplified her feelings of being unloved. So the chain effect of neglect-anger-temper tantrums- avoidance by the family members- feeling lonely & neglected kept recurring. She desperately needed to find a way out of this maze.

During therapy her thoughts were retrained

to perceive the lack of attention in productive ways as opposed to the current negative ways. Instead of seeing their absence as not needing her, and by implication not loving her, she was asked what else that behaviour could mean.

She said it could mean that they were busy

with their life. This thought was further tailored to her psyche and new associations were created. Her brain was trained to believe that when her children had no time to spend with her, it meant that they were busy learning to stand on their feet and succeed in their chosen fields of work, just as she had done.

If she continued to help them now,

they would take things for granted and not learn be independent, because she too became accomplished only when she was left to fend for herself. This meant, that they were only following the success formula tried, tested and proven by her; and their success would only make her a proud mother for it meant that her efforts had paid off.

She learnt to associate their absence with

learning- success -and pride, instead of perceiving it as not needing or loving her and being lonely.As she repeated this new interpretation to herself, her body visibly relaxed, her voice softened and she said she felt much better.

By changing her beliefs, she was able to change

her thoughts and her feelings; thereby changing her body chemistry and biology. Rewiring of her brain helped her find new hope and meaning to the changing circumstances of her life.

If she continues to train her mind

along this new chain of associations continuously for forty days she will indeed be able to transform her present situation. For it takes forty days for the brain to create a new neural pathway or habit driven thinking, by which she can literally overwrite her old limiting beliefs and choose an empowering new one.

Each one of you has the power

to adapt to your changing life circumstances by changing your beliefs.



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