• You Choose

    May 8, 2019 | Jodi
  • It’s interesting talking to clients in the therapy office. I have the precious opportunity to be invited into the very deepest reaches of their vulnerability, once they have grown to trust me. Often, clients characterize themselves using descriptors that were assigned to them early on in life. One of my favorite things to ask clients is, “If you were to come up with one word that your family used to describe you when you were growing up, what would that word be?” Sometimes one word is enough – like “lazy” (mine) or “scattered” – and sometimes it is a phrase – like “out there” or “too sensitive” or “not put together.” These descriptors can follow us for the rest of our lives, intruding into our thoughts and forcing self-judgement, uninvited.

    Another thing I’ve seen is that, without fail, we are a product of all the experiences we’ve had up until this very moment. There’s just no escaping it. People will “what-if” themselves into believing that they would be different/happier/better if only XYZ hadn’t happened to them when they were a child. If only my parents hadn’t divorced… If only I had been less shy… If only I hadn’t been bullied at school. I’ve even seen clients characterize themselves (you know who you are) based on their adaptive behavior – “I’m more cautious/less trusting/not affectionate because of how my parents/siblings/boyfriend/girlfriend betrayed my trust.” These painful experiences seem to have even more impact on us during the formative years – up through our early twenties – when we are learning who we are in the world, developing a sense of self.

    My question is – “Is that who you want to be?” The beautiful truth is that we have choices. People can change, if that is what they want. We can change! Do you want to be more trusting? More vulnerable? More affectionate? (You know who you are!!) It can happen if you’re willing to take a chance, get a little uncomfortable, and practice. What is the worst that can happen? Rejection? It is painful, yes, but you can survive it and move on.

    Use positive self-talk – it’s SO powerful!

    My favorite yoga instructor sometimes says this when she gets us into Pigeon Pose during yoga class – “Feel the edge. Lean into it. Get to the place where any more would be too much, but any less would not be enough. Know that, like in life, you can get through this. It won’t last forever.”

    Think of all your experiences up to this point as ingredients for a recipe. Is there only one possible recipe? If you have eggs, for instance, do you have to make omelettes? What about souffle? Quiche? You get to choose!!! If you think you only know one recipe, how do you find other options? Ask someone who knows more about cooking?

    The same applies to making something different/better/more adaptive from the “ingredients” of your life experiences. How do you create a different outcome? You could start by consulting someone who knows how to do it…a counselor/therapist.