I’m having some really amazing breakthrough sessions in therapy.
It’s been eight weeks now that I’ve been seeing my current therapist (since the day that this event happened), and all I can think every time I leave is:
where was this guy for the past ten years of my life?
I finally have found a good connection with a therapist I like, that’s actually helping me figure shit out. My first session with him was more productive than the five sessions combined with the therapist I was seeing in the spring.
But therapy is getting hard. I’m doing a lot more nervous laughter in the fifty minutes we are talking together. But the conversations we are are having are meaningful and productive and….. well, just plain tough.
In the past couple of sessions we’ve transitioned from talking about recent events in my life and my emotional reactions to those events to the underlying issues that have caused them or that have contributed to how I handle(d) said situations. More specifically about my prevailing self-doubt.
There are a lot of reasons why I have a total lack of confidence and belief in myself. Many of those reasons go back to childhood and, more prominently, my later teen years. We’ve talked about the specific events in my life that have contributed to my self-doubt, but as with the past, there is nothing to be done, you can’t change it; you can only grow from it.
So I’m choosing to grow from those mistakes I have made in my (distant and recent) past.
I apologize for my existence a lot. I have a serious lack of confidence in my capabilities and I do not trust myself to make the “right” decisions for myself. So I have spent the better part of my life allowing others to do those things. Growing up a third child (I am the youngest and I have two older brothers) this has always been relatively easy. That being said, it wasn’t really until a very destructive relationship I was in when I was 18-19 years-old that I lost total belief and trust in myself. Since then I have been looking outward for validation. And I’ve been looking for people who are willing to make decisions on my behalf.
My therapist believes that my self-doubt primarily manifests itself in my relationships with others, specifically with men. I tried to counter-argue his point with examples of my self-doubt in other scenarios in my life, but in those situations I was speaking more about placing my trust in others or making the best decision for myself I could in the moment. He said, “trusting someone else is not the same as self-doubt.”
In our latest session, my therapist asked me to talk more about where I thought my self-doubt originated from (other than the relationship I had when I was a late teen). As I went into this story about believing that being a third child had something to do with it… I realized that all the stories I was telling were examples of how I was actually exercising a lot of responsibility, maturity, and independence. Maybe because I was a third child I was more aware of my own identity and what I felt were the right decisions to make. My stories didn’t match up with the self-doubt that I generally feel. Even my awareness that I was contradicting myself is an example that I’m more reflective and self-aware than I give myself credit for.
When I told my therapist this, he agreed.
I give up decision-making control because it gives me a sense of relief since I’m afraid I’m going to screw it up.
(Even if I have no evidence of screwing it up before. Except that I do…[insert prevailing self-doubt])
We talked about the disconnect between what I feel/my emotional reactions and the data/evidence that is given and the rational/logical/analytical response. What I know to be true is not consistent with what I’m feeling. I told him I’ve had friends point this out to me before. Good, he said. I laughed, “That doesn’t mean I now how to change it.”
Of course not. If you did you wouldn’t be here.” Touché, therapist. Touché.
I related an analogy that I’ve used for a while now in describing this particular part of my psyche. It’s the “Anorexic in the Mirror” analogy. Whenever an anorexic looks in the mirror, all that person sees is fat, despite that the reality is they are mostly skin and bones. Everyone else sees skin and bones. But that person can only see fat, no matter how hard or long they stare into the mirror. No matter what angle, if they stand on their head, if they close one eye: just fat.
I’m the anorexic staring into the mirror, except for me it’s not fat I see (though I do see that too) but all the self-doubt and self-deprecating qualities I feel about myself. Despite what others tell me. Despite that other people in my life see a very intelligent, capable, confident, self-aware, kind, compassionate, independent, mature person.
I only see the metaphorical fat.
So why can’t I absorb what others say about me? My therapist said if I knew the answer to that question then I wouldn’t be there.
I need to challenge those emotions I feel with the frontal lobe of my brain. I should acknowledge the emotions and the self-doubt (my therapist said it would be counter-productive to pretend that the don’t exist… you can’t just make an anorexic see the bones), but then challenge it with the data/evidence that conflicts with those feelings. Say to myself, “I’ve been in this situation before, and I’m capable of handling it.”
I must challenge the judgement and doubt I place on myself.
We ended the session with my therapist loaning me a book called, The Four Agreements. These are the agreements we must make to ourselves in order to experience freedom, true happiness, and love.
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
Here’s how the session ended
(after we established that my therapist is fussy about his books and I should not break the binding on the loaner)
this is how you stay in the present.
I love you keep going,
Other posts like this:
- (August 12, 2014) Acknowledging the daily struggle
- (September 8, 2014) How does she like her eggs?
- (September 6, 2014) My breaking point
- (October 9, 2014) do what makes you grow
- (August 3, 2014) getting to know myself a little better