The Possibilities Really Are Endless
*Trigger warning. Sensitive post.
My focus on the neurological underpinnings of emotional and behavioral change is my bargaining chip when trying to show the possibilities of a better life to those who believe in therapy but who feel trapped, limited, ostracized, ridiculed by their past to the extent that they cannot fathom a life worth living. If I can show you how your brain is created to change your belief systems, your relationship patterns, your awareness of unhealthy habits, then, I believe that I help you see that you have the ability to untangle yourself from the snares of faulty punishing thoughts that keep you stuck in suffering and see the possibilities. To not only untangle yourself, but to minimize their potency with deliberate AND compassionate practice. To notice how the incessant cacophony of “you’re not good enough” can shut up and a lighter symphony of “you are love” can take over. Your life is worth living.
The “not good enough” thoughts are dangerous. They stem from our childhood. Before you know it, they stain every minuscule facet of your life. Kids hear messages from their parents day in and day out in comments such as “Are you sure you’re doing your best?” “How come you got this grade and not an A?” “So and so can get straight A’s and be on two teams, what’s your excuse?” “ Should you be wearing that? Your thighs look a bit chunky.” “Who will marry you if you continue to eat all of that? You should know better.” “Why do you always leave this room such a mess? You are such an embarrassment.” “Why are you crying? Why are you mad? You have zero reasons to be mad. Don’t you care about what you did to me? I’m your parent.” “What is wrong with you?” Kids understand that they must emulate their over-achieving parents or overcompensate for their inability to provide a stable upbringing, so they try harder, do more in less time, and keep a smile on their face.
Days upon years of listening to these messages create a WRONG idea that there is something wrong with you and that no matter how hard you try, you will never reach the standard of excellence expected of you. Cue in perfectionism, a facade for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more generally, lack of self-love and self-worth. A vicious cycle of trying to please everyone and taking on more responsibilities leading to burnout, loneliness, and resentment.
But, these feelings can’t be acknowledged. It’s too dangerous. You learned long ago that showing this side of you was less than perfect and was not well received by those who took care of you. Cue in major confusion as to what to do with all of these uncomfortable feelings. A stronger dose of perfectionism is the answer you think. If it wasn’t perfect enough – the grades, the body, the relationships, the income, the persona, so let’s try some more and with real effort this time, okay?
And yet, it doesn’t end, does it? And you continue to feel miserable and confused because you don’t know how to make it stop without stopping altogether. Your body is alien to you. You’re constantly on the go and get a high from the adrenaline rush of accomplishment. You do so much for everyone you love but feel so disconnected from them. You think they were right all along. You’re not good enough, make this pain stop, maybe they would be better off without me.
You are needed. You are good. You are loved and you are loving. You are worthy.
Don’t ever measure your worth based on what others say about you or on how much you can do in a day. It doesn’t have to be this way. How do I know? Because your brain is wired for change. Because your mind is so powerful that within a few minutes of consistent practice of focused breathing you can calm yourself down. Because with informed guidance, genuineness, and compassion for yourself, you can rewire that same mind that plays nasty self-hating tricks to be your refuge. Because when you are open to a new perspective and live life according to it, you notice that you start to feel better, lighter, less reactive, more attuned to your sense of self. Is this easy? No. Is it attainable, yes!
I know some days are unbearable. I know some days you want to give up. Please, take my bargaining chip and trust in the awesomeness that is your mind and all that you are. If you are having thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself, please reach out for help. Call a loved one. Call the suicide hotline 800-273-8255, call a mental health professional or trusted person to guide you away from this.