I have this harassing disconnect between what I know versus what I feel...
We were therapeutically jousting…
I did not win.
When I left after 60 minutes (which he always gives me, sometimes more) I felt battered and bruised. Beaten.
Not the way I usually feel when I leave his office. Lighter. Freer. Buoyant. Hopeful.
Dr. Bob practically kicked me out and I felt weighted down…
During that session, I remember sighing heavily and saying, “I feel I’m beginning all over again and I’ve been coming here for more than 20 years.”
I felt very low, indeed.
“No, I don’t agree,” he said. “I think we’re getting to the gut issue.”
This morning I actually emailed Psych Central‘s remarkable editorial manager, Jessica. The subject line of my email was “Am I doing a terrible job?” and the question I asked her was:
Do you hate what I’ve been blogging about lately? Is something wrong? Please let me know.
I feel I’m not fulfilling my mandate here and I’m being self-indulgent because I’m sharing with you my personal journey, which is a little rocky right now. And not dealing with important issues in mental health.
She responded immediately.
“Your journey is an important story, Sandy. 🙂 Believe it!”
I’ll try. Anyway, back to Dr. Bob and Monday’s psychotherapeutic boxing match.
It boils down to this ~ I’m afraid I’m not “good enough”… and that phrase, “good enough” has plagued me for months, now, in his office. It’s been a theme in our relationship for years. I detest those words, “good enough” … I want to be better than “good enough.”
That’s why I push myself so hard. To prove otherwise. I excel because I’m afraid I’m not “good enough.” I don’t even want to face that question, “Am I not good enough?” I’m too frightened I’ll find out that I’m not, so I avoid the question and work myself harder and harder.
Not a bad trick, but it can drive you around the bend. It’s doing that to me right now.
With that feeling comes the assumption that it’s true. Even though I know you should never assume anything, when it comes to me, I can be really irrational.
So, what happens is the assumption reinforces the feeling…
Dr. Bob says I “have to strip away those feelings about myself, try to see how I feel without feeling that way.
He says I have to ask myself “What do I believe, about myself?”
He says, “I make a big deal out of every imperfection in myself, so therefore, I’m not okay enough. Because I’ve always feared I’m not good enough, I’ve always been afraid to look at the conclusion. And if we really look at our fears, and they’re true, then we feel there’s no hope.”
He says, I have to “reassess the definition of myself as being ‘not good enough’ and start from ‘neutral’.”
He says, “Deal with the negatives and there are millions of them. Then ask yourself, ‘Do the facts support those feelings?”
I have some very old records, very old habits, problems with certain relationships that plague me. I won’t let the old records go. I look for approval that will never materialize. Why do I need it? Why do I never feel accepted? Why does it matter?
These feelings often trump truths and facts…
So, if being “okay enough” doesn’t accommodate imperfection, which in my addled perfectionistic world, it does not. Then what?
“You can never be good enough,” says Dr. Bob. “Because you can’t be perfect. No one is perfect. Being human means you’re flawed, imperfect.”
Great. How do you like that Catch-22?
There are a lot of problems with the medical model and the psychiatric model. Particularly the “labelling,” because in mental and emotional health issues, you become that label. You internalize it. It’s so hard to separate yourself and the many facets of yourself and just be the totality of you. Today, too many of us seeing the neurosciences and the reality of drugs and psychopharmacology and the symptoms.
We cannot see the whole picture. The whole person in the context of his or her whole life.
There are problems with believing only in the neurosciences and discounting Freud and all his acolytes and all the therapists and social workers and psychologists who have followed and who grapple with the millions of people who may be unhappy or may be unhealthy or both… and seek help. Want to talk. Want to feel they’re being heard.
Curiously, the neurosciences seem to be explaining what has already been known for years …
Not only in terms of the scientific mapping of the brain, but in the behaviours that have already been observed and studied and quantified. Consider the landmark research of psychologist Jean Piaget. It keeps popping up with me and Dr. Bob, right now, all the time.
The neuroscience in Dr. Stalks’ blog post ~ her solution ~ is also fundamental to the functioning of the U.S. military ~ has been for years.
I teach the “Knowing-Being-Doing” model in my Leadership in Society course and have for years.
Consider, very simplistically that “Knowing” is to “know yourself and others; engage yourself in learning new information as you develop the competencies required in your role.”* Knowledge and understanding. “Getting to know yourself.”
“Being” is attitudes and values or to “be open to difference and valuing of other perspectives.”* Attitudes and values. “Full Acceptance of Yourself.” Attitude, I think, is everything, or almost everything. And values, who are we but our values and belief systems.
“Doing” is skills. To be able to “practice listening skills, coalition building, interpersonal skills and effective civil discourse.”* Or skills. “Rapport-building communication,” is a skill as is to be able to “Take consistent action!”
* These definitions of the “Knowing-Being-Doing” model are from Chapter One Introduction to Leadership and described in greater detail in Chapter Three The Relational Leadership Model in the textbook I use in my course, Komives, Susan R.; Nance, Lucas; and Timothy R. McMahon. Exploring Leadership ~ For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference. San Francisco. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2007, 2nd edition.
My old records keep skipping…
Yet, somehow, I cannot apply this solution to my own life. Not yet. I’m stuck. Those bloody old record keeps skipping.
So, back I go to Dr. Bob next week, but this time with my new hearing aids.
I have a feeling we’ll be dealing with this gut issue for some time…