One of the things Therapist 3.0 has been talking about since the day we met is the power of reflection. It took me quite a while to get my head around this concept – what was I supposed to do? How do I make reflection happen? The harder I tried, the less it happened, the more frustrated I got. I was making a really fundamental, yet so, so simple, mistake. You can’t do reflection. It isn’t an action. It only happens when there’s a complete lack of action.
I suspect this is as alien a concept to as many of you as it was to me. I’ve spent years trying to force depression out of my system – drugs, exercise, distraction tactics – but it didn’t really work. I think I felt that if I wasn’t actively doing something to make it better, then it wasn’t going to happen. The problem with depression though, one of the many, is that it makes it so very hard to be able to do anything at all. So the doing becomes an internal battle, one that sees me berating myself into action. Granted, the action usually did alleviate the problem, but relief tended to be short lived. As soon as I stopped doing, my mood dropped again.
There’s something about the world we live in right now that has come to view being, rather than doing, as the worst possible way to live. We fill our days, from the moment we get up, till the moment we go to bed. We have so many distractions constantly at our fingertips, the vast majority of us carry access to the entire world in our pockets. It’s quite incredible really, but is it actually making things better for us?
I’ve been struggling with phenomenal levels of guilt about anything and everything for most of my life. I’ve been afraid to let myself stop and think, because I should be doing something – if I’m not doing, I’m wasting my time. It could be something really mundane like sorting out washing, but it’s still more worthy than just sitting, because it’s quantifiable. I’m certainly not allowed to do something as ‘selfish’ as (gasp) sit and read a book in the middle of the day. How could I possibly be entitled to such a luxury without earning it?
How did we get here? How did we get to a point where actually allowing ourselves the space to look after our emotional selves is seen as a bad thing? We all know the value of looking after our physical health, despite the reluctance many of us feel about putting it into practice. But what about our emotional health?
I’m no expert. I’m still learning and there’s a distinct possibility that I have all of this completely arseways. But it’s starting to make sense in a way that I never expected. This morning, I got up, made myself a cup of tea and sat. I focused on my breathing. I didn’t try to think about anything in particular, but I didn’t try not to think either. What you’ve just read is what my brain gave me after a few minutes of merely sitting, with no distraction. I know there’s a whole lot more in there but that’s what I’ve got right now.
We are so incredibly hard on ourselves, each and every one of us. We are without a doubt our own worst enemies, but as I’ve started to learn, we can change that, by simply allowing the space to actually listen to what we really need, and really want. It can be scary. I’ve found myself reassessing pretty much everything about how I live my life, who I am, and who I want to be. But what’s far, far scarier, is ignoring all of that, and continuing to live in a way that makes us hate ourselves. I don’t want that any more. Turns out I’m actually quite a decent person, and I’m really enjoying getting to know me.