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Treating Post-Holiday Let-Down & Depression
Depression continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 5
Reactive and Core Self-Evaluation

CEU Question 5 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Depression
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track, we discussed the importance of gaining a personal awareness of a crisis situation through "stopping" and "starting" or pausing between the pearls.

On this track we will focus on experiencing an increased sense of difference between heart or core self and your anxious thoughts or reactive self. What do I mean by heart? I of course mean more than the muscle that pumps blood to your body. I am using the word heart to refer to a deeper mental level or core.

For some, it can be the source of your true feelings. You may refer to your heart as your center of calmness from which events in your world can be viewed without interference. Some people call this their conscience. Some call it their higher self or higher power. Others call it just a feeling in their gut or a gut-level feeling or a feeling in their heart. Some call it a still, small voice. Or your matrix of core values or moral standards, standards of conduct, principles considered desirable, or ethical principles.

How do you view your heart?

The alternative to getting your heart's desire from your core values this past holiday season is conflicting with thoughts that race around in your mind from your reactive self. I will use the term ego more in an Eastern than a Freudian sense because to some degree, this is how it is used in everyday conversation for example, "so and so has an ego problem" or " there are a lot of big egos in this room."

The implication is that a fake identity has been assumed and that an unwholesome or exaggerated persona is being projected. Do you agree that people with "big egos" are not being themselves, and the effect on them and others is unhappy? Do you agree that your ego or your false self, reactive perhaps anxious thoughts is your shabby self-image?

The shadow side of the ego can be a shabby self image you may have for yourself. As such, the self-critical side of your ego can be constituted of almost pure fear. The shadow side of your ego or thoughts can be the cornered, crazy, arrogant, agitated part of your mind which in its misery is always attacking you or someone else.

Recycling Past Emotions
So how did the negative thoughts get there in the first place as you took those bites of Thanksgiving food? You have an experience. You feel an emotion. This much is simple and at this your thoughts are point automatic and unavoidable. But what comes next is avoidable. You then remember the experiences of the past and recycle or regenerate an emotion that may be even been incompatible, inappropriate or even destructive to the new situation you are now in.

Can you stop recycling your incompatible, inappropriate, and destructive past programming? In short, just because you've always hated being at Aunt Hazel's doesn't mean you have to react, get mad, ticked off, eat too much, drink too much and hate yourself the next day. Is it at all possible in your own mind that you can play a game and see a lighter side to what's going on? Even just for a few seconds, even just a little? It just takes that first step.

In short, have you taken all the other negative holiday experiences or experiences in general with these people or in this situation strung together to create your current feeling.

What I want to emphasize is that you may have behaved as though you did not have an alternative to the situation at Thanksgiving time or Christmas Eve. Do you believe that you have been made angry (scared, depressed, sad, jealous, etc.), and there is little you can now do about it?

6-Step "Need to Be Right" Technique
Here's a good place to start. You might try this "Need to be Right" exercise.

Step 1: Recall a verbal exchange
between you and another person, a conversation that still seems unfinished, or one that remains puzzling or in some other way continues as an irritation. If you can, pick a scene that still comes to mind and is not a happy line of thought. Write or think of only enough to identify it. A word or short phrase is fine.

Step 2: Take a moment now to remember
(but do not write) what the actual words, gestures, facial expressions, and general tone of the encounter were. For example, Amy said in a disgusted voice, "I'm tired of shopping for your friends. I want to go home and call Wendy." Her head was down, dragging the bags on the floor, trying to look as unhappy as she could. Her red jacket was open with her scarf dragging on the mall floor as she walked.

Step 3: Write some brief descriptions
of how you would revise the scene if you could. For example, what do you wish you had said instead? Are there some ways you could have come off better? It is essential to record at least two versions of how it would be different if you had it to do over again, and if you can put down three or four this will be even better.

Notice that your ego or negative self talk may not have a consistent answer in mind. It may be conflicted as to just what, if anything, you should have done differently, this may occur especially if you have a need to be right. Here's an example of an alternative you may have resisted. If I had to do the shopping trip over again with my teenage daughter, I would have respected her wishes to stay at home. Having no company at all is better than having negative company.

Step 4: Close your eyes, relax your body, and allow your mind to be lazy, to have not a care in the world.

Step 5: Describe in writing any resistance
you may have felt, especially in the beginning to proposing alternatives to what actually happened. Did this mental rest period seem silly? Were you fearful (tense) that somehow you were not doing it right? Did you feel slightly ridiculous for following someone else's instructions? Perhaps you were so afraid of being manipulated that you did not follow them. Write down this kind of reaction.

Step 6: Again, quietly rest your thoughts
for a few seconds. Then recall the conversation once more, only this time stay with your feeling of relaxation and comfort as you do so

On this track, we discussed how to begin experiencing an increased sense of difference between heart or core values and ego, reactive thoughts, or false self.

On the next track, we will examine various ways that holiday triggers can become recurring times of anguish and how to recognize patterns of these unproductive habits. You will be provided with a description of a "Morning Attitude Log."

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Conway, C. C., Zinbarg, R. E., Mineka, S., & Craske, M. G. (2017). Core dimensions of anxiety and depression change independently during adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 126(2), 160–172.

Tocci, M. C., Converse, P. D., & Moon, N. A. (2020). Core self-evaluations over time: Predicting within-person variability. Journal of Individual Differences, 41(1), 1–7. 

Vanderhasselt, M.-A., De Raedt, R., De Paepe, A., Aarts, K., Otte, G., Van Dorpe, J., & Pourtois, G. (2014). Abnormal proactive and reactive cognitive control during conflict processing in major depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 123(1), 68–80. 

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 5
How is the term "ego" used in a non-Freudian manner in this CD set? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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