I don’t typically write serious subject matter on this blog, but a few months ago I wrote about my desire to seek therapy for a myriad of issues I’ve faced for years. A woman of my word, I began going almost immediately.
I don’t like talking to friends or family members about my problems so the idea of talking to a stranger about my innermost thoughts really put me off. Luckily, I found someone totally aces on the first try, and she has taught me some very valuable things in our time together so far.
How you feel about yourself is not a democracy.
I would never have described myself as a “people pleaser” until I started seeing her. Now I can’t believe I never saw it before. In every facet of my life I am living for someone else: at work, in relationships, with my family, among friends. No wonder I’ve spent half my life asleep at the wheel; trying to be everything to everyone is exhausting. Once, when I was expressing anxiety over Blogger Interactive, she said, “Who cares if people end up disliking you? How you feel about yourself is not a democracy. The only person who gets a vote in that is you.” All this time I’ve been basing my self-esteem on what I assume or know to be others’ judgements of me. I’m trying to see that I am good enough as-is, and if someone doesn’t like me, that doesn’t diminish my worth.
The “no fault” effect.
I’ve experienced a lot of anger and bitterness over the years due to what I perceived as people wronging me. If you date me and break my heart, you’re a scumbag. If you hurt my feelings and don’t apologize, you’re a dolt. She has helped me see that a “no fault” mentality can free me from my hostile feelings towards others. There aren’t always winners or losers, nor is there a right or wrong side. Sometimes it can simply be a matter of a bad fit between two individuals.
What would you tell your child?
I don’t have children, nor do I want them, but she has asked me to imagine having one someday. What advice would I give him/her? Would I tell my daughter to base her value as a person on how her relationships work out? Would I tell my son that being afraid of things is a sign of weakness? If it’s not good enough for my imaginary children, it’s not good enough for me. This has helped me see that a lot of my thought processes are dysfunctional, and not ones I’d want the next generation to adopt.
Letting go of expectations.
I am obsessed with the concept of time. I get annoyed when I think someone has wasted my time with their tomfoolery, and I hate when I invest a lot of time in something only for it to go to hell. The Japanese have a form of repairing pottery called Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi) wherein broken pottery is fixed using gold lacquer. They believe the pottery is now even more beautiful for having been broken. I think this applies to people as well. Instead of thinking that life is always giving me an unnecessary ass kicking, I should think that life is handing me an opportunity to become an even better person.
Going to therapy was a huge leap of faith on my part. I was completely out of touch with my emotions, and couldn’t imagine sitting there and talking about myself for an entire hour. As it turns out, I have a lot to say.
To anyone who is currently in therapy, congrats on taking the first step towards being a more healthy individual. To those who are thinking about it, you should absolutely do it if you have the means. It is worth its weight in gold.