Over the last 4 or so years I have tried a range of different therapies, many of which I haven't gotten along with. As part of recovery for Anorexia I have been having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and although in the past I haven't gotten along with CBT however this time around I have been finding it fairly helpful.
Unlike what's shown in the movies, therapy isn't always about drastic, life changing realisations or laying down on a sofa crying. However, every now and then you learn something about yourself which, if you pay attention, could just make an impact.
I had one of these moments today, without trying to sound arrogant, I view myself as quite a perceptive person, I have been aware of a lot of the unhealthy thought processes that I have but have not been able to change them. Through the last couple of years I have understood that you can notice some parts of yourself and try to fix them to no end because you haven't found the root of the problem. I know that I struggle with feeling insecure. A month or so ago I had a conversation with my therapist that highlighted the fact that I get most of my self esteem from how other perceive me which means I spend all of time trying to please other people.
The thing is, I'm not psychic. How am I supposed to know what other people are thinking about me. I have spent so many years of my life trying to please other people by hiding the things that I feel insecure about but how do I know that these people care or even notice these things. I have been projecting my insecurity onto other people assuming that their opinions of me will be hindered by the things that I dislike about myself without ever recognising that that these are my insecurities, they have nothing to do with other people and everything to do with the way that I view myself.
So now that I know this, how do I put this into practise? Recognising these thought processes are is one thing, but to actually reap the benefit of this I am going to have to find away to move through this thought process in order to start to heal. It's easy enough to say "I will not project my insecurities onto other people" but doing it is another story.
For me it will be things like the photos that I post on social media, clothes that I wear or even making myself more vulnerable by reaching out to people even if I am terrified that they are going to feel annoyed that I have reached out to them. So, after this conversation my therapist asked me what my plan was moving forward, to which I shrugged my shoulders looking for some deep insight into the solution to all of my problems. Her answer was "The best thing that you can do in this situation is fake it until you make it". At first I was a bit taken back, I have spent so long faking it, isn't that what I'm supposed to be moving away from. However, when she expanded, I got it. It's going to take a while for me to believe that other people aren't judging me based on my insecurities, however, if I let myself be a little bit vulnerable, I might just prove to myself that it's okay to be vulnerable and how much more I can get out of my life if I do.
I struggle a lot with the idea of vulnerability, it was pointed out to me that things that I worry will happen if I let myself be vulnerable are theoretical ideas in my head rather than past realities. I am building up walls to protect myself from an abstract idea of abandonment without any evidence that that will actually happen. Also, I often underestimate my ability to deal with situations. Even if something did go wrong and I got hurt, whose to say that I won't be able to handle it? Pain is an unfortunate part of life, no amount of control, rules or walls will stop me from feeling pain; the limits I put to my life to prevent this pain however may also prevent me from experience some of the best parts of life.
Take relationships for example, I have been single for quite a while, in all fairness it's been a rough couple of years so that's not necessarily a bad thing, however, I may have missed out of opportunities and experiences because I am so afraid of getting hurt that I never let myself be vulnerable enough to let someone else in in that capacity. I could have missed out on amazing relationships purely because I was scared of hypothetical pain.
The lesson that I am going to try and learn from this is; I am a strong person and therefore able to deal with a lot more than I give myself credit for, it's okay to let myself be a little bit more vulnerable than usual in order to possibly experience way more than I do at the moment, if I get hurt then I will be able to pick myself up and try again...it will not break me. I can't live my life by a series of rules that build walls around me and I can't control the pain I feel but I can give myself a better opportunity to feel joy!