Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2012 Nancy Virden
How is it that deeply rooted beliefs affect a depressed person’s suffering and recovery? What can an observing loved one do to help?
Three steps have to be followed to create a belief.
(1) Someone significant sends a message. It may be spoken aloud or not, but we have to “hear” it.
(2) Experience supports this message. We accept events that seem to agree with the message as proof it is true.
(3) We repeat the message to ourselves. Self-talk reinforces it, and the new belief is formed.
Leave out any one of these steps and the message just remains a thought that can be ignored. Watch for this pattern in the story of the original fall of humanity.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. Satan is a created being. He chose to disregard God in pride. Now he was posing as a serpent and was therefore more crafty than the other beasts of the field. He would have intrigued Eve because he spoke, displayed intelligence, and asked her a question which led to her doubting what she had always accepted as true. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Eve defended her belief but stayed to hear more. Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
She looked at and studied the tree. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes… Her doubt rose. What she heard from this creature (significant in some way because he held her attention), what she saw with her eyes, (experienced) all gave evidence to the new idea. Then her doubt became belief as she supported it with her own thought, this tree is to be desired to make one wise. At that point her behavior matched her new thoughts, and she took of its fruit and ate.
What messages have we been given? Some of us have been fed falsehoods of worthlessness, value dependent on what others think, incapability, ugliness, no purpose. Have we stared at and pondered these messages?
Choosing to give final credence only to the experiences (basically what we can see with our own eyes and interpret as we will) that support negative doubt, is to gawk at a presumed understanding greater than God has already given. What if those messages were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?
What can repeating these messages to ourselves do for us? The consequences for me have been as they were for Eve and Adam. Destruction. Like searching for treasure and finding fool’s gold, great energy has been poured throughout my life digging for affirmation that will prove to me I am important. It has never worked. It will not work. All that has come of that is depleted energy resources, fueled depression, and attempted suicide.
It is up to us what beliefs we want to change. Do we want to continue to stare at the fruit tree God told us to avoid? Perhaps it would be best to take him at his word that people will sometimes fail us and he will not; that significant others will not always meet our hopes but he will; that our value is we are his beloved, and always have been.
Ask: Why do you want these beliefs to change? Because they hurt? Because they are false? If you can change these ancient, deeply rooted, negative beliefs, then anyone can, right? And you can be an encouragement to them as they try.
Genesis and Changing Beliefs (c) 2012 Nancy Virden . Taken from Genesis 3:1-7 ESV
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.