Processing Your Problems

This week, I was struggling with feeling I had to impress someone, even though I didn't want their approval. That is, I have been fighting to shake someone's disapproval. They interact with others that way too, not just me. They probably developed this way because their environment required it. They had to prove themselves, and since this standard was applied to them, it's only fair that others have to reach for it too. This transference of expectations is annoying for both sides. We want people to act a certain way, but we don't want to act the way others expect us to.

That all being said, everyone's struggling with something we don't know. As I witnessed firsthand, most people were shocked to find out that I had been sexually abused as a child. It's fine to say you don't like someone's behaviour, but it's another to judge why they're acting that way.‬‬‬

Conflicts always have at least two sides to the story, and you gotta deal with your own stuff first. Part of what I like about counselling is how achievements can transfer from the sessions. The way you relate to the counsellor changes the way you interact with others. If you're able to be vulnerable with a counsellor, then it's easier to be vulnerable with others in your daily life. If you're able to engage with an overwhelming feeling with the help of a counsellor, then it'll be easier to face similar situations when you go about your week. It's similar to physical exercise with a personal trainer. They give you advice customized to your goals based on what they observe in you.

"Your bench presses are lopsided."

A counsellor will say "talk about your relationship with your dad" and then hold up a mirror. "Notice how tense your body got when you described your father and how you started cursing like a sailor. Try writing a blog post about those feelings, but don't publish it online."

I've heard from a few people that they're now considering seeing a counsellor after observing how it's benefited me, but I wanted to clarify something. I didn't start counselling because of my childhood abuse. I started it because I was feeling stressed from my world. I was battling emotions and mentalities that were damaging to both me and Carrie, and I needed to do something drastic to save my life. That's when the topic of sexual abuse came up. I highly recommend counselling to everyone, especially if you've ever found yourself stuck in cyclical, self-destructive behaviours. You have to give up your comfort and your pride, but in return, you get a huge boost if you're trying to improve yourself. Good counsellors are so comforting to talk to, so you trade comfort for a different kind of comfort. Sometimes I feel just weightless after unloading a big story. They help to lift your burdens, but you also have to engage in the work. In terms of investment, I think you get a great return. Try at least one session and see how it goes. It can sometimes be a very uncomfortable experience, but how important is that compared to getting your life back?

Men seem to have a harder time admitting they might need therapy, and sometimes it's easy to spot who needs it the most. My post Masculinity got about half the usual traffic of my other posts, which makes sense to me. Males are taught to be tough, but they aren't allowed to open up. I linked a TED Talk some time ago called The Power of Vulnerability, and here's another take on it. I'm writing about a lot of different topics, but I think some people are still stuck on square one, talking about their problems.

One way of dealing with anger, for example, is writing a letter to the person you're angry with but never sharing it with anyone. Or for millennials, record a Snap, shout at the person, throw a filter on it, and send it to an account you created just to watch yourself rant for 10 seconds. The value in that exercise is in expressing your emotions in a healthy way. Yes, you don't get the point across to the other person necessarily, but it's generally better to sort out your own feelings first before taking someone to task. There's a magic to reading your own words or hearing yourself say your thoughts. If you're unable to talk about your problems, at least acknowledge them in your mind. That's something I'm trying lately. Respond to people in my mind first, then formulate a response afterwards. Sounds simple, but I have a real problem with pleasing others before myself sometimes, and I can ignore my own feelings. Hence, this week's struggle with a friend's judgement and disapproval.

Some people share their problems and burdens too freely already (me), but I don't want to deal with that right now.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le