Pathways Out of Depression 2: Recognizing the Old Programming that Feeds Your Depression

hidden voices

If you’re feeling depressed, there’s a good chance that at least part of the reason is that you’re buying into Old Programming.

What do I mean by that? It’s a voice that tells you what to think and how to act. Sometimes you don’t even hear the voice, but it’s still what drives your behavior.

You know how sometimes when you’re wearing your sunglasses and you forget to take them off? And then you go into a store and wonder why it’s so dark in there? Your Old Programming is like that.

It’s been a part of you for so long that, at first, you don’t even recognize it. But you need to LEARN to recognize it, because it’s probably one of the reasons you aren’t living your Life Purpose.

Here’s how it works. At some point in your life, you experienced something traumatic. Maybe your parents fought all of the time when you were a kid and you, being very sensitive, cringed and covered your ears every time you heard it.  

And you said to yourself, “Fighting is scary and bad. I’m staying away from that, no matter what!”

When you’re 3, a decision like that makes sense. It keeps you safe. Now that you’re an adult, does that behavior still work? Not so much.

If you avoid every conflict in your life, you end up playing small—missing out on chances to be the full blown, living color, grandest version of who you were put on this earth to become!

Figuring out when Old Programming is at the helm, rather than the grandest you, is really pretty easy. All you have to do is pay attention to your mood.

Feel like giving up? Probably a sign that some old tape from your childhood has been playing over and over in your head for the past few minutes, days, hours, or even years!

Fed up with being jerked around by your boss, the idiot who almost ran you off the road, and your neighbor’s dog that wakes you up at 3 am every freakin’ morning?  Your irritation is a gift card in disguise.

old tapes

If you would just let those feelings and thoughts come and go, it wouldn’t be a problem. But often you string them together into a story.  A full blown drama that would make a perfect script on your favorite soap opera or reality TV show.

Yes, these emotions stink. They’re not fun. But instead of stuffing them, trying to run away from them, or blowing them way out of proportion, see them as the gifts they truly are.

The trick is to take a step back. Become the director of your life story instead of playing the lead role. I know, it’s hard giving up all of the fame and glory, not to mention the drama, of stardom.  (Sigh.)

Part of stepping back is awareness—just noticing when you fall back into that role of victim, or martyr. Don’t beat yourself up when you do. We all do it! But awareness is the first step in breaking this habit.

Whenever you feel your mood going south, take a break. Go to the ladies’ room and do a quick mind check. What thoughts have been circling around in your head? Are you riding the Doom and Gloom train?

Pull the chain, and bring that train to a screeching halt. Believe me, this is an emergency! Take in a few gulps of air and think about somebody you love, your best vacation ever, or your dream home.

When you’ve got more time, meditate or do some journaling. See if you can figure out what it was that set you off.  What was it that pushed the “play” button on that old tape in your head? 


When was the last time you felt this way, and what else was going on then? See if you can pinpoint several times when you played this same role. When was the very first time it happened?

In my next post, I’ll share ways you can start to SHIFT this Old Programming.  Meanwhile, see if you can commit to spending at least 10 minutes each day writing about when, during that day,  you started buying into one of your old stories.