A journey of the self
Have you ever wondered why you behave in certain ways? Why you may have certain ideas or thoughts throughout your life? As a therapist I know how understanding and learning about the self can be a wonderful, enriching experience. I speak from personal experience, I have been in therapy a few times throughout my life, with the many challenges that life can bring. These times in therapy were taken up with learning how to cope with these challenges, until I started training to become a therapist.
Part of my training involved many hours of personal therapy. This time the focus of my therapy was to understand who I was and what has influenced the person I am today. I must point out here that the person I was at the start of this journey is not the person I am today.
The person I was back then was, someone who lacked confidence in their abilities, someone who was not happy being "good enough," that person had to have everything perfect. I was someone who thought they had to fight for everything, someone who never spent time or a thought on themselves, someone who put everyone else's needs before their own. Writing this today I feel tired, exhausted. If I think back, I was so tired and exhausted. I was tired of feeling so negative, tired of fighting and tired of having to have everything perfect.
I remember back to the start of this journey one of the first things that I explored with my therapist was that I realised whenever I walked anywhere I held my gaze to the floor, looking up just enough to see where I was going then back to the floor. I can remember telling my therapist friends would quite often accuse me of being rude as I had not seen them to return their smile or wave. My therapist asked how it felt, how was it that I was being interpreted as someone who is rude? I was "mortified", I am not a rude person, far from it.
This led to me exploring the reasons for holding my gaze down. One reason was due to a past controlling relationship and another was my lack of confidence in myself. For me it was easier to not meet someone else's gaze, I would question, "what are they thinking of me?" Over time I was tired of the constant questioning going on in my head, so I found if I looked down, I didn't have to question what the other person might be thinking.
From that moment of understanding, I made a conscious effort to walk with my head held high, I started to look at people, I could see smiles and people wanting to say hello. I started noticing my friends and I was now able to stop and chat with them. This gave me such a warm glow inside. Look at what I had been missing all this time, instead of worrying about what people were thinking of me I was now enjoying lots of social engagement, this was a revelation in itself.
My journey of the self had just started, I continued to explore my lack of confidence, what was causing the constant feeling of frustration and anger. I came to understand these feelings were present because I lacked the vocabulary to name what I was really feeling. Over the coming weeks I worked hard at learning new words and identifying my true feelings. I worked hard to understand many of my behaviours and thought patterns, I started to understand what had contributed to these thoughts and behaviours.
This new insight has given me the power to ask myself if I want to change in any way and what I need to address to make this change. It was as if I was starting to talk all over again, starting to live in a way that made me happier and free from the weight of past behaviours, past thoughts and past characteristics that I didn't like.
So this new version of me, wants to share the power self-awareness can have. How rewarding life can be if you can understand who you are, what makes you behave a certain way, what has contributed to certain fixed ideas you may have and how therapy can help you to start your journey of the self.
Therapy has been traditionally reserved for when someone feels in crisis or is struggling emotionally so many people are skeptical of seeing a therapist, yet therapy can have the potential to be a place where you can learn to understand who and what you are.