I have done a lot of self-reflection recently. The problem with this is that it is much like looking in a mirror. At first I think ‘Ok, looking good’ but the longer and more closely I stare, the more the imperfections and flaws are noticeable. I often feel like I am both the therapist and client in my head and this week I have felt more like the client, so this is my way of being the therapist and making sense of what I am telling myself.
Client: I have a conundrum and a paradox rolled into one. I want to talk about something and at the same time I do not want to talk about it. If I talk about it, I am admitting I think it and I do not want to admit I think such things. In a strange way, it is the not wanting to talk about it that makes me think I should. If I do not want to discuss it, then perhaps others do not want to say it, so maybe if I do, then they can feel more at ease to talk.
Therapist: What is it that you do not want to talk about?
C: I have realised a few things this week. The first thing I noticed was that I am now aware of knowing when something is bothering me but that it might be another few days before I realise what it is that is actually bothering me.
T: How does that feel?
C: On the one hand it is good because I know I can now sit with it and accept that I am feeling a certain way and that the whatever the problem is will probably come to me eventually.
T: On the other hand?
C: It is horrible because I am sat with this horrible feeling in me and I can’t lance that boil without knowing what is causing it. I just have to sit there and try and contain the hurt, or upset or whatever it is and try not to let it come out at other people. But, I do feel a sense of improvement in that I now know that there is a problem and rather than getting angry and not knowing, I can relax a bit, relax in a kind of way because I am not just getting angry and not knowing.
T: You accept that not knowing is ok?
C: Sort of. I feel a bit better about it at least. Better than knowing that I don’t know about any of it. Or that only makes sense looking back at when I didn’t know I didn’t know and how I used to react to not knowing. Now, I know I didn’t know at that was part of the problem.
T: I get the sense that you are going back and forth between how you think you used to be, how you feel now and how you want to feel in the future?
C: Yes. It is the past, I think, that affects me most about how I see myself now. How I see myself as I used to be, how people saw me, or how I think people saw me, it all bleeds over into the present and dyes my perspective on others and myself.
T: Can you give an example?
C: This is hard to say, I realised that I have spent a while thinking that people hate me. I get that they probably don’t or at least not all of them, but that is what I have been feeling. I can see now that it is a unfair view, but that doesn’t stop the thoughts creeping in and me believing them for a time, I can come out of it and say I am being silly, but the feeling is still there, or the memory of the feeling. I don’t like thinking things like that. It seems crazy.
T: Do you think you are the only one that thinks like that?
C: No, probably not. I do not think I have enough self-esteem to believe I am that original. I don’t think like this all the time you know? I have my good days, I have very good days. I don’t feel hopeless merely concerned that I feel this way sometimes and sometimes is too much for me.
T: What makes you think people hate you?
C: Weirdly, it was talking to someone and realising they really didn’t hate me, in fact that they really liked me and that made me feel stupid for wasting so much time thinking people hated me. That is the thing right there. I keep doing this thing where I sort one problem in my head out and rather than feeling better about myself, I go straight to looking for another thing to worry about. It is like a dependancy. Or a habit might be a better word. I have got into the habit of looking for the worst in myself. Then again, and this is a good thing, if I have realised that I am aware of when things bother me, then I am aware that I am step closer to resolving them. Isn’t that what life is? A constant search for ways of looking at it be a happier person? It might not always happen fast, but what I find comfort in is that I am still trying, that I will always try. I don’t know if any of this makes sense.
T: Isn’t that what you are saying? That it is ok for it not to make sense now? That it will make sense at some point and that is ok too.
C: You know what? That is what I am saying. It is ok to feel bad at times, but it won’t last forever. It is ok to not know what the problem is because it will be revealed at some point and then I can deal with it. I think my time is up. I will see you next week.