Welcome to the couples healing podcast where you’ll get the tools for him to overcome his addiction for her to find healing from the pain that it causes her. And for you to heal your relationship and come back together, I hope that you enjoy and subscribe. Hey, everyone, welcome back to another episode of the couples healing podcast.
This is Sam Tielemans. And I’m excited to be here today because I want to talk to you about something that I think so many people struggle with in this process, which are feelings of either depression or anxiety or feeling that feeling like they have depression or that there’s something that’s been weighing on them for a long, long time. And I think that in these situations a lot of people can experience symptoms of, or the experience of depression. And so I’ve got some thoughts on this that I want to share that I think can really help to change maybe how you see things. But even more importantly, I want to give you some tools to be able to shift this. So you don’t actually have to carry this around forever. Because when I think about depression or anxiety, I think about it in very different terms. Through all the work that I’ve done the people, it’s so important to recognize that depression isn’t something that has to be a lifelong thing. And I remember talking to somebody wants and she’s like, Well, my mom was depressed. And so I’m depressed. And I kind of I think I just get that from her. And then when I’m, when I’m having conversations with her or other clients, the thing that I try to explain is that depression and anxiety, let me actually take a step back. So we as human beings, our baseline is to be content, and to feel good about ourself, and to feel confidence to feel like things are okay. Our circumstances around us shape, how we see things. And it influences how we feel. And so I want to explain this a little bit more, because I don’t think depression is there’s no, there’s no science or research that I that I’ve ever heard of the talks about depression and anxiety being passed down, genetically. And so it’s very important to recognize what contributes to the experience of depression, because once you understand what creates it, then you can simply reverse engineer the path to be able to become free from it. And so I’m really, I’m really, this, this topic is really important to me in particular, not only because I work with a lot of people who come in with these feelings of depression or anxiety, but because of my own experience. And so I want to share something with you guys that I hope can help illustrate why I feel like there’s so much hope for people who do struggle with depression or anxiety, to be able to completely and fully be free from it. And so it’s not some mental illness that you have to struggle with forever, and you need to take medication for forever. I think that the narrative that pharmaceutical companies want everybody to know or to, to believe is that depression is this chemical imbalance that you need to take medication for to correct and you need to stay on medication for the rest of your life. I think that’s a very common narrative. And the reality is I’ve experienced it personally and after working with I don’t know how many clients over the course of 10 years, it’s I don’t see that clinically playing out, I don’t I don’t see that as what’s true. And so I want to share with you my own experience, I remember when I was young, my mom, she, she saw me as somebody who was struggling even as a little kid, I she would describe me as a troubled child. And a little bit more contexts to describe this. Again, kids their default, is, I think when we’re born, we’re born like being okay. And some kids, of course, have different temperaments and personalities. Some kids are a bit more difficult than others. But I think, generally speaking, it’s you know, this whole nature versus nurture argument, I’m very much on the side of nurture more than nature. And while nature kind of sets a course. And we’re all kind of hardwired in different ways. And anybody who has more than one kid knows that. But I think the nurture influences. How are I remember, there’s a there’s a Reacher researcher by the name of Dr. Bruce Lipton. And he says, and I add up all of the ways of looking at this, I like his way the best, he says that yes, while there is a nature nurture argument, he says nature influences how nurture is expressed. So in other words are actually let me just kind of share with you my story here just to kind of explain this a little bit more clearly. So when I was young, I grew up in a home where my dad was angry all the time. And he’s a night and day different person now, but in my very formative early years, well, you can even think about like his own home, right? He his only tool for communication was through anger and through yelling and arguing. The reason why that was the case was because that was modeled to him by his parents. That’s how they communicated. They were just they would be upset and there would be tension constantly. So my dad didn’t know anything else. He didn’t know there was a different way to communicate because that’s just what he was used to. And so he gets married. My mom. And I remember her saying, the first time that he yelled at her, she was like floored, because her dad never yelled,
he communicated very differently, he was very peaceful. And there was never any fighting. So she could not even believe that my dad was yelling, because that was not even a part of her world at all. And so, as I grew up, my dad would, would have interactions with us in the same way he would get upset, he would lose his temper very easily. And that has an impact on people. And especially as kids, when there’s tension in the home, you can, if you’ve ever, you know if, for me personally, when there was tension in the home, or in the clients that I work with, when they describe their childhood, it physically affects how they feel. We feel like we’re walking on eggshells, we feel unsafe, there’s uncertainty. And it absolutely has an impact on how we we internalize things when we’re young. And so it was with my own experience, I grew up and I had this like, expressed the tension that I was feeling expressed that that manifested itself, by way of me being irritable. by me having really difficult days, I would lose my temper easily. I remember one time I was sitting, I got sent to my room. And I had this little baby’s crib in there. I don’t know why I was like, it was like a doll crib it was made out of wood. And I took the wood crib and I was like slamming it against the wall and making these little indents indentations in the in the wall in the in the silo in the in the drywall. And so, like, that’s how it would manifest this unease that I felt. And then as I got older, it kind of morphed into this, like depression. And for me, what made all of this worth worse, what made all of my experience worse, is the thing that I didn’t have any idea like, I didn’t recognize the impact of this one thing that I’m going to share with you up until grad school. And so while Yes, there were moments of anger and frustration and like upset in my home, I honestly I loved my childhood, that didn’t characterize like when I look back at my childhood, I don’t I don’t have all these pictures of my dad being mad. It’s really, it’s the opposite. I feel very happy, I feel blessed. I grew up with great friends in the neighborhood. I thought my family experience was awesome. So I had like this dichotomy, these kind of polar opposite experiences. And as I reflect on my childhood 95% 98% of what I think about is like very, very positive. Yet, as a child, I still experienced the experience to the effects of my dad’s anger. And then what I want to share with you next is what I feel like, really tipped the scales for me. So I grew up, and I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And so my mom, a big part of what she taught us as kids, is just being in a household, a Christian household was to be Christ like and to be kind to other people, and do what Christ would do. And so I think that’s a great message. That’s a message that I’ll continue to pass on to my kids. However, unintentionally, I misinterpreted the message that my mom was trying to teach. And, inevitably, when I wasn’t Christ, like, and I wasn’t perfect, and I didn’t get it, right. Or I was unkind to somebody or was critical or judgmental, or anything that I, you know, don’t want to be doing. But I find myself doing as a human being. Anytime that happened when I was young, teenagers, I was very, very hard on myself. And the way that that the way that I internalized that was, when I make a mistake, when I’m not being Christ, like, then that means I’m a bad person. And I’m unworthy. And so this belief got planted in my mind, by no fault of my moms. This is just how I internalized what it meant. When I wasn’t Christ, like, as a result of this belief, this is the thing that really caused, I would, I would say, caused my depression, separate than all of what I went through when I was young. Because again, this is where I’ve kind of talked about like this nature versus nurture, right, I think if my nature was already kind of early on, a little bit more temperamental or a little bit more irritable, that was absolutely exacerbated by my experience growing up. And then I feel like there was almost this shift where that didn’t affect me so much my dad made changes. Then in my teen years, the thing that really weighed me down was the belief that I had about myself, and the meaning that I made when I wasn’t living up to what I wanted to live up to. And so for years, I’ve carried around this way of depression, and I felt the sense of like, I feel a sense of unworthiness. That manifested by me, not me, I isolated more. I didn’t want to look people in the eyes, I didn’t really want to open up and talk to people.
I always felt like I needed to be perfect. And I strive to be perfect and everything that I did. And while Yes, I wanted to be a good person, it was a lot of it was driven by this fear of if I’m not, then that means I’m a bad person. Making mistakes meant I was a bad person. And so it wasn’t until I went to grad school, when I read this book, by the name of, I thought it was just me by Dr. Bernie Brown. This book completely shifted something inside of me. And what she said in this book is that there’s a difference between guilt and shame. And I thought that I had been experiencing guilt. Anytime I made a mistake, I felt bad. So I just thought, well, I just feel really, really guilty. But the reality is, I wasn’t feeling guilt, I was feeling shame. And how she defined both of those words, she says guilt is a focus on behavior. If you make a mistake, then your moral compass tells you, you made a decision that is not in alignment with your values. So there’s this this dissonance that you feel this, like, there’s a, like a tension inside of you this weight, this, this feeling of I feel bad. That then helps us to point us back to the direction that we want to be moving in. That tells us that decision didn’t work for our values. So let’s make a correction. Let’s simply make a change, acknowledge that I did that thing, get back on on the course of what I want to be doing instead. And then guilt goes away. However, no matter how many times I said, I was sorry. Or no matter how many times I prayed, and said I’m sorry to God, if I made mistakes. That feeling that I felt never went away. And I would have moments of peace, of course, like I would have good moments along the way. But like there is this underlying low grade sense of like, I just feel bad. And I did not have any words to describe this. I couldn’t, I couldn’t make sense of it. I just thought it was guilt for the longest time. So when I read brene Brown talk about how guilt is the feeling of Yeah, you feel bad when you do something out of alignment with your values, but then that goes away when you correct it. She said shame, on the other hand, is a focus on yourself. Guilt is I made a mistake, I’m thinking about the action, shame is I am bad. Not I did something bad. It’s a focus on who I am as a person. And what that mistake means about me. That was such a revolutionary concept to me, because I had no idea that I was actually doing that the whole time. Anytime I made a mistake, it was Oh, I didn’t do something that I should have done. I’m a bad person as a result of it. Therefore, this is what I tell clients as well, if you see if you think of yourself and you see yourself as a bad person, or somebody who’s unworthy or worthless or not good enough. How could you not feel depressed? How could you not feel anxious, if I’m carrying around this view of myself as a less than person, automatically, I’m in this like a deficit of happiness, I’m already feeling less than and bad and unworthy. Therefore depression is a natural result of having that belief. It was not a chemical imbalance for me. And again, for the clients that I work with my clinical experience, it’s not a chemical imbalance as much as it is how you see yourself. And so this completely changed how I saw what I was going through and it redefined. What I thought was what was actually going on. And so I started to notice moving forward. Whenever I made a mistake, I would notice this self talk now I would start to notice this, like these harsh words of like, I can’t believe you did this, like what are you doing? That was so wrong, I can’t believe that you did that, again, this really negative self talk, which was just again, a reflection of the belief that I had about myself. And so when I work with clients, and they say I’m struggling with depression or anxiety, of course those feelings are real. But I think so many people misunderstand where they actually come from. So as I did my own work, learning and implementing and practicing these tools that I was learning in grad school, I noticed this shift and it was a very, there was an immediate shift when I realized the concept of between guilt and shame. But then it took some practice and muscle memory for me to be able to change how I saw myself for me to be able to talk to myself differently and make different meaning out of my experience. And so I was working with the reason why I thought about this podcast episode in the first place is because I was working with somebody last week. And this exactly was his experience. He felt this depression, this weight, this overwhelm the pain. I explained to him what I’m explaining to you right now.
And then we did some exercises to break down how he saw himself, and then helped him to reevaluate how he was looking at situations. So he didn’t interpret them as I’m a bad person. So let me give you a for instance. And this is so true and so common for many of the men that I work with, whenever their wife brings up their pain, then, like if they bring up the past, or bring up their pain, or saying they’re having a hard day, or they’re feeling depressed themselves, whenever the wife brings that up for him, this client that I was working with, he instantly interpreted that, as I’m a bad person. My efforts aren’t working. I’m not doing enough. And he was trying, he’d been to making some great changes before we started to work together.
she still felt like she was having a hard time in certain moments. And whenever she brought those things up, that’s how he saw himself. It was filtered through this lens of shame. And he says, I’m a bad person. And then he started to get depressed himself. Because again, how could you not feel bad if you see yourself as bad. And so what we did was we broke this down and helped him to see things differently, because he was very much taking things personally, anything that happened, he would take it personally, and he would make it about himself. Again, that’s more of the lens of shame when you make it about you instead of about the situation. And so part of how I encourage men to think about this is if your wife brings up your pain, her pain to you, that’s an opportunity. There’s two things number one, it’s a sign that she trusts you enough to talk to you. And that she that you mean enough to her to be her sounding board and support in that moment. If she experiences betrayal, trauma, then the reason why she’s hurting is because something or someone came between you and her. And the trauma that she feels is a result of the break in the relationship. And that break causes pain, because he is important to her. I think it’s very important that men understand this point. In particular, the reason why she feels hurt, is because the connection that you had between yourselves, the bond,
agreement, the marriage that is so meaningful for her, that when that breaks or gets damaged, it causes her pain. It is not because you’re a bad person, and you’re unworthy, and there’s something wrong with you. That’s shame talking, it’s actually the complete opposite. It’s you mean so much you have you add so much value to her life. You’re so important to her that when you don’t feel connected together, she’s hurting. And so as I started to explain this to him, helping him to see the situation differently to make a new meaning out of it. In an instant, something clicked for him. He started to reevaluate all of the past experiences, whenever she brought up her pain. He could think about like, Well, yeah, I could see how she would be in pain because XYZ happened. And I wasn’t there, I didn’t give her that support that she needed. And that was painful for her because she values my support. My support is like an antidote to the pain that she’s feeling. All this stuff started clicking for clicking for him. And then as a result, not only did he start to see himself differently, because it’s so important that everybody has this baseline default view of themselves as a positive, like good person. While we make while we can make decisions that are unproductive and harmful, sometimes, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It simply means that you made a decision that didn’t work in that circumstance. Or maybe in any circumstance, depending on what it was that all we need to do is make a change, tweak that decision so it doesn’t keep happening. And then you’re back on track. It has nothing to do with who you are. Again, that’s that separation that completely opened my mind when I heard about that in the book. And so this is so critical. And I hope this is coming through as I describe this, that any event that we go through our brains automatically make meaning out of them. So if wife brings up her pain, the meaning that he’s going to make is one that’s going to be empowering for him or one that’s going to be disempowering. And if it’s a disempowering meaning, such as like the one that my client mentioned, I’m a bad person and I’m not enough, he’s gonna feel depressed. And the problem with that is not only that he’s struggling, but the more depressed and in shame he feels, the more shame he feels, the less available he is to be there for her. he withdraws within himself, because he feels so bad about himself and all of his energy is going towards beating himself up and then he’s shutting down, which is the complete opposite instead of what she’s needing in that moment and so when he can see it from a different lens and say i’m still a good person and she’s coming to me with her pain because i’m somebody who’s in a position to really help her and comfort her and she’s opening up because she has some degree of trust or some willingness to allow me to support her this is a good thing this is an opportunity for me to be there for her and then it’s a matter of them getting the skills and the tools to be able to respond in a way that resolves the pain and creates closure and that’s a huge part of the process and once men know how to do that then they’re absolutely be there they’re in a place to feel so confident anytime she’s having a hard day he knows exactly what to do and he can step into action and be there for her in the way that she needs the problem again the focus that i’m talking about in this episode is the block that prevents all of those good things from happening is the way that he’s making meaning out of the situation the same thing is true with her she has to make meaning about his experience so let’s say there’s a slip he falls back into the addiction how does she make meaning out of that does it go to a shame based place of he’s looking at these pictures and images because i’m not enough because i don’t matter to him because our family is not important to him if that’s how she’s seeing and interpreting his action she too is going to feel anxious and depressed and hopeless but if she can start to see it in a different way and while those decisions that he’s making are still painful the pain really the spiral takes place when we link this negative belief to the situation about ourself and so instead of her saying well that means i’m not enough he’s turning back to the addiction because i don’t matter to him the reality is that’s not true at all people have and i hope that as if you’ve been following along with these podcasts or if you’re new i talk all about the reason why addiction happens in the first place in previous episodes and just to do a quick little synopsis addiction is a way to cope with pain addictions often in 98% of the people that i work with develop long before they ever even meet who’s going to become their wife so it has nothing to do with her and what she’s offering or not offering
again that’s more of a shame based way to look at it is it’s like oh this is my fault or i’m not enough or i’m not praying enough i’m not sexy enough i’m not this i’m not that’s all a distorted way to make meaning out of that situation which isn’t true and it doesn’t help so what we want to do instead is say oh he fell back into the addiction that means there’s something that’s not in place inside of him he’s coping in a negative way i wonder what he’s coping from what is he running from what’s he trying to distract himself from what tools does he need to be able to make sure this doesn’t keep happening while that decision is still going to be painful it’s going to be significantly less painful and you won’t experience a sense of depression if he were to slip when you see it through a different lens when you don’t make it about you in my opinion and not in a condescending way i’m not saying that a condescending way in other words like when you don’t take it as a personal when it’s not a personal reflection on who you are that’s a better way to put that and so what i would encourage everybody to do then as their as i hope this has been helpful to help you see things in a different way depression and anxiety are a direct result of how you see situations how you see yourself and the meaning that you’re making about the events and experiences that you’re going through and so again this is like if people often feel depressed if they’re like there’s no hope this situation will never change that’s the meaning that you’re making now of course if that’s how you’re interpreting that then you’re gonna feel pretty low so what i would encourage everybody to do as you’re thinking about these things i hope this has been helpful to see this in a bit of a different light depression is something that absolutely can be resolved i can then full circle in my own experience after i learned about these things and implemented different tools like we’re talking about practice and develop this muscle memory that oppression is absolutely gone i don’t even think about that anymore i’m so far away from that just because my experience is different because it’s coming in differently i’m filtering my life my experiences events that happen they get filtered at the top of imagine like a funnel right at the top of the funnel there’s a different filter on that completely and so everything that comes into the funnel is now it’s there’s no distortions i can’t say no right there’s always more work for everybody to do and there’s always progress that we can we can make but in the way that we’re talking about there aren’t distortions about this has anything to do with me sure it might have an issue or it can have any things to do with my decisions But that’s my decisions, I’m not my decisions, I’m not my actions, I’m not my behavior, just like you aren’t. So at the top of the funnel, it’s completely different as a result of that depression and anxiety has disappeared from my life. And so it is with clients that I work with, again, my purpose when I have these sessions with clients is to help them identify what’s causing the depression. And you might already intellectually know it. But then there are some exercises and things that we can do to break that down and eliminate it. So it doesn’t have to keep following you around. And this is again, one of the tools that I shared with somebody last week that I wanted to pass along to you guys. So I encourage you, as you’re reflecting on what’s happening in your day to day lives, your experience, what’s hap, like, how are you seeing those things? How are you making meaning of them? What’s your self talk, because that’s a reflection of how you’re seeing yourself, and how you’re seeing events in situations and making meaning. And then I would invite you and encourage you to consciously make new meaning. decide that you’re going to see something in a different way, it really in part comes down to just a decision, instead of saying, Oh, this means I’m not enough. It’s like no, what else could this mean? Well, maybe this is something that he’s struggling with, maybe he slipped, because he needs more tools, I wonder what’s going on inside of him. In that instance, you’re D personalizing the event, which again is still can be painful, but it doesn’t have the same degree of weight and heaviness. Because the meaning that you’re making is different. I would encourage you to guys give that a shot. It’s transformed my life. And I know sometimes we say that it’s it’s not hyperbole, that’s not an exaggeration. This one tool had such a significant impact on my own emotional well being that I know that it works. And it’s something that I help other people with as well. And so I hope this has been helpful as you hear this. And I would encourage you to give this a shot. And I’d love to hear how it goes. So again, if this has been helpful for you guys, and if you’re following along and this has been meaningful, I’d love to get your feedback and leaving a rating and review absolutely goes such a long way to help me get the message out to other people. And then as you give this a shot this week, I’d invite you to notice how this feels as you’re trying to make new meaning and notice how much better it does feel when you can separate yourself from your situation. Okay, thanks
again guys for following along. I look forward to speaking with you all next week on next episode. Take care. Wait before you go. I’m offering free access for my podcast listeners to a course I created so make sure you go to couples healing.org so you can get some tools to start the healing process individually and in your relationship for if you want even more support and you’d like to work with me directly. You can contact me with the info that’s on that website as well. I’m excited for you to make progress on your journey.