Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Other-centeredness

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. I hope you'll check out the comments I made on your comments :-)

A couple of days ago I felt so awful, even thinking I might be on the edge of depression again - all because I felt I had been leaning too heavily on my friends - bothering them too much with my phone calls and emails. Today I feel much better. It didn't take long to get over. Makes me wonder whether I wasn't a bit too quick to start complaining publicly about my insecure feelings.

Through helping a friend who was in some trouble I forgot all about my own. I find repeatedly that when I start to think about others rather than myself I feel better. When I do a little thing for someone else, or call to see how someone who hasn't been well is feeling, or when I work on a piece of writing that might help others, I don't have as much of a problem. When I forget about myself I don't worry about how I look to others. I stop looking inside myself and look outside.

Yet it's the nature of depression - and mania as well - to focus on self. We become self-centered. I've learned that by practising other-centeredness I can perhaps even ward off a depression when it threatens. It doesn't always work, but I'm sure it has helped many times.

Facilitating my Living Room support group has helped my emotional well-being in a big way. I feel stronger, more together. Today there are 37 members in the group. Of course, not everyone shows up at the same time. I receive frequent phone calls from people who want to start coming and phone calls from people who want to talk. There are always two or three that need some special attention. Serving the needs of these people has given me great joy. I feel I'm doing what God designed me for. Living Room has helped me stop thinking of myself overly much. I've prayed for a long time to be more other-centered and Living Room has been one of the answers to this prayer.

If you are interested in the Living Room faith-based support group concept for people with mood disorders, let me know. I have created manuals to help you set one up as an outreach project for your church. It's thorough and will give you all the tools you need. Just email me at info@candidsbymarja.com.

5 comments:

Anonymous Mom said...

i totally agree with your take on this subject marja - i have never seen my son better than when he is helping someone else.

Daily Dose said...

I agree with you 100%. However, I don't agree that we become "Self-Centered."

I am so sick and tired of people thinking that those who are depressed or Bipolar or who comitt suicide are "Selfish" and Self-Centered."

The funny thing is that most people who are depressed or committ suicide tend to keep these things to themselves..they alienate themselves to some degree from life and people - how in earth is that self-centered?

To me self-centered is similar to Narcissism. They WANT to be centered - they WANT the attention - they WANT everything in life and the world to revolve around them - this is not a description of depression.

Just my thoughts, opinion and truly not personal.

Love You Marja.

marja said...

Thanks Anonymous Mom and Tery.

I don't think people who are depressed want to have the world revolve around them either. But it's the nature of the beast that you become very withdrawn into yourself and that's what I meant by self-centered. Perhaps self-centered was not the right word to use here. I was just using it as being the opposite of other-centeredness.

What you said about people who are depressed keeping things to themselves, alienating themselves from the world outside themselves - Now that's what I meant. If we can at times of impending depression be "other-centered," maybe we could avoid that.

I don't think at all that people who commit suicide are selfish. They just can't see beyond their pain.

Jon said...

Marja - wanted to give you a heads-up that you've been quoted on Liz Spikol's blog:

http://trouble.philadelphiaweekly.com/archives/2007/08/sometimes_i_wan.html#comments

A very good article she quotes by Peter Andres, and he quotes you.

Excellent stuff!

marja said...

Thank you, Jon, for letting me know about Liz Spikol's republishing of that article. I've put a link to the article in today's post.