As I'm writing this, we have just come out of another Mother's Day and I am thinking ahead to the next few holidays and what my family will be doing. Holidays, and family get-togethers in general, can really cause a lot of anxiety in me and in many of the folks I talk to (in and out of the therapy room). There is just so much pressure - so many shoulds, have tos, musts, and can'ts. When it comes to these rules, as I call them, who is in charge?
Whitney Storey Blog
I love that as a culture we are embracing the idea that "it's okay to not be okay." It's so accepting and welcoming of folks with all kinds of struggles and has reduced the stigma around seeking help. But, can I be honest with you for a second? Sometimes when I think "it's okay to not be okay," I find myself meaning it only for other people. It's okay for other people to not be okay. Not me. And I have a hunch I might not be the only one.
I have a long history of being involved in the arts and finding benefits from making art by myself and with others. While I had folks who encouraged me in my practice, I also found that many people (mostly my peers) didn't understand my love of art. The stigma I felt about my artistic self lead to feelings of shame. My best friend in undergrad even told me one time, as we were discussing dating, "maybe you shouldn't tell them you're a theatre major" - as if distancing myself from the arts were possible, let alone preferable! Art fills me with life.
When I talk to clients about their struggles, I notice a very familiar pattern that I find myself in: what causes the struggle becomes the focus of our life and we become fused with it. We believe we must get rid of these thoughts (or feelings, memories, urges, etc.) so that we can live a life we dream of living.
If you were to randomly choose a therapist, you would likely end up with someone who uses cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been the dominant type of therapy since the 1960s. The general premise of traditional CBT is that our thoughts influence our emotions, which then go on to influence our behavior. So, the idea is that if we can improve our thinking, our emotions and behavior will therefore improve.
I have always felt…out of place. Even as a small child and regardless of where I have been, I notice the things about me that stand out. It’s this innate feeling of disconnection that has motivated my curiosity. I am so curious about the world around me. If I can figure everything out - other people, myself, the environment - then I will find a place where I belong.