Bringing the Unconscious to the Surface

Tamika, 26, was raised in a home with parents who were deeply religious. She was adopted and she was aware that she was adopted from an early age.

A part of her always wondered about her birth parents, but she subconsciously felt trying to learn more about them would be a betrayal to her parents. Regularly, people said things like: “you’re so lucky you got adopted” which reinforced the belief that she should feel nothing but gratitude. She never felt fully emotionally connected to her parents, but she did know that they loved her. 

When she meets Aaron, she’s smitten. They move quickly. She knows her parents will approve because he shares similar religious beliefs. But as they get closer she can’t help but feel a lack of trust. She regularly goes through his phone. She questions him consistently about where he’s been. She pushes him to propose to prove his loyalty.

The voice in her head and the alarm in her body speaks loudly: he will betray you. 

Aaron doesn’t know how to cope with her insecurity. In his mind, he’s done nothing but be faithful. He’s feeling exhausted and worn down by allegations. He starts to pull away, which only activates Tamika’s abandonment wound. 

She doesn’t have the words to communicate the impact of her adoption trauma — and even if she did she fears she’d hear what she’s heard since she was a child; “you should be grateful.”

She also can’t explain why she’s never felt safe in relationships and that her controlling behavior stems from an unconscious fear that people who love her will eventually leave her.

This is where a third party with a trained ear can be of service; to listen, to interrupt at key points during the conversation and ask questions, and gently guide the client towards seeing if the unconscious is influencing the conscious. There is absolutely no shame or embarrassment about looking at oneself and wanting to live more consciously, changing the course of one’s life for the better.

#therapy #counseling #counselor #psychology #endthestigma 

Making time for your well-being

Although its getting better, there is still an enormous amount of stigma and shame wrapped around the subject of mental health and seeking out help. Often times its viewed as embarrassing and/or shameful when the reality is that its no different from talking to your physical doctor about a pain in your knee or taking your car in when the check engine light comes on. Zero difference. Anyone can benefit from talking with someone when the need to unpack comes up.

Judgement

Though it is human to evaluate people we encounter based on first impressions, the conclusions we come to are seldom unaffected by our own fears and our own preconceptions. We see the world as we are, and not as it actually is. Additionally, our judgments are frequently incomplete. For example, wealth can seem like proof that an individual is spoiled, and poverty can be seen as a signifier of laziness — neither of which may be true. At the heart of the tendency to categorize and criticize, we often find insecurity. Overcoming our need to set ourselves apart from what we fear is a matter of understanding the root of judgment and then reaffirming our commitment to tolerance.

When we catch ourselves thinking or behaving judgmentally, we should ask ourselves where these judgments come from. Traits we hope we do not possess can instigate our criticism when we see them in others because passing judgment distances us from those traits. Once we regain our center, we can reinforce our open-mindedness by putting our feelings into words. To acknowledge to ourselves that we have judged, and that we have identified the root of our judgments, is the first step to a path of compassion. Recognizing that we limit our awareness by assessing others critically can make moving past our initial impressions much easier. Judgments seldom leave room for alternate possibilities.

Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” If we are quick to pass judgment on others, we forget that they, like us, are human beings. As we seldom know what roads people have traveled before a shared encounter or why they have come into our lives, we should always give those we meet the gift of an open heart. Doing so allows us to replace fear-based criticism with appreciation because we can then focus wholeheartedly on the spark of good that burns in all human souls.