Without realizing it we often make assumptions about other people or circumstances that are distorted or simply inaccurate.  We then generalize from a specific situation to other people or events in life more globally.  What do I mean by this? Let me provide an example.  Let’s assume you have a friend that you haven’t talked to in some time. You give your friend a call, but they do not answer.  You leave a message telling them you just wanted to check in and catch up.  

Several days go by and your friend still has not returned your call or even texted you.  You feel rejected and a bit insulted because you are the type to quickly return calls/texts. You begin to wonder whether it is even worth it to have a friend like this in your life.  After all, good friends are supposed to promptly return calls or texts, right? Your mind runs amok for several more days.  You globalize your thinking and conclude that all people are selfish and one-sided.  At times, you even put the blame on yourself and think that you may have said or done something wrong. Deep down you may even wonder whether you are unlovable. You go into a funk, and stay home and watch television rather than go out to social engagements.  You actually convince yourself that your friend is selfish and not a good friend. You don’t consider other possibilities for their lack of return correspondence.    

One week passes and your friend calls you back, explaining that she was away for a few days and then caught a nasty cold. She mentioned that she had intended to call you back but was simply overwhelmed.  She apologized profusely.  This makes you feel better. Unfortunately you spent a good portion of the past week ruminating over why your friend hadn’t called you back and why you don’t have caring friends in your life or at least friends who are as thoughtful/caring as you are.  This may have even made you feel down and depressed.  It is this type of high expectations of others and subsequent distorted thinking that can trigger low level depression including a cycle of isolation that worsens depressive feelings. We often don’t realize it but high expectations of others combined with mischaracterization of their intentions and subsequent social isolation can contribute to feelings of depression.  

Fortunately, counseling and psychotherapy can provide you with the tools that can help. If you find that you are suffering from low level depression where you feel rejected, insulted, unworthy, unlovable, or where you feel you no longer have the quality of friends in your life that you would prefer then please reach out to us today. We are here to help.

Post by Stefan C. Dombrowski, Ph.D.