DOES IT MATTER WHAT I THINK?
“What I think about myself”…It pops up in so many sessions!
How I think about me…
- Who I am…
- What I can do…
- What I think I can’t do…
- How I do it…
These seem to be the starting place for a multitude of problems. And…coming to an accurate understanding of those things is the beginning of a lot more peace in life.
When I am talking with a client, and they feel really stuck, I start asking myself these questions:
- What are they thinking about themselves?
- How do they see themselves?
The answer is rarely pretty.
This week alone, in my counseling office, I have seen a face curl up with a despising disgusted look as the person thought about who they think they are. I have seen another who manages clients across the country in good business practices, yet she sees herself as entirely too weak to bring satisfying relationship to her household.
I listened to a client tell me what they see in themselves and the words I heard were that of their spouse who has berated them continually. Spouse is nowhere in sight…yet Client carries forward the searing torch of seeing self as pitiful and pathetic. OUCH! Did Spouse actually do that? Yes! And now Client does it even more than Spouse because it is now the view of self that Client continually references for information. It is not just Spouse’s picture. Now it is Client’s picture too!
Let me describe this in first person language for the next several paragraphs.
. Despising self creates a crisis inside:
- On one hand I am right here with myself, and on the other I can’t stand me.
- I want to ditch this person, and I still find them with me at every turn!
- I am disgusted with myself, and I am my only choice.
- I am dreadfully weak, and I have problems way bigger than I can manage.
- It is like walking into a store that sells items I desperately need, but I have no money with me and nowhere to get any more.
Do you see the crisis? If I thinks like this about someone else, chances are I might leave that person, or be planning on how to at spend less time with them and minimize their impact on me. But, when I think that way about me, I can’t get away from my problem. I take me with me everywhere I go. Depression is often my body helping me identify that I am thinking in a way that does not work. I am mad at myself and oftentimes the world around me, too. This crisis can express as depression.
There is a confusing piece to this. I keep thinking I am at the mercy of important others who, I am certain, share my sordid view of me. I may also be bitterly mad at them for thinking ill of me! I assume they are my problem! I think that when they get the picture of me right, then life will be so much better. And because I am scared of them, I miss entirely how I see myself. (Do Christian clients feel this way? YES. Many do!!)
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS?
So, if I am curious to move beyond this crisis, I might ask myself: What IS my view of me? How DO I see me?
- In a place where I am unhappy, do I see me as someone I don’t like too much?
- do I see me as not very competent?
- Am I angry at someone else who thinks ill of me?
In other words, I am mad at others who seem unhappy with me, while the biggest problem is that I see myself in the same way. I am not content with me; and I see myself as small. It is how I see myself that is at the heart of the problem.
Once I discover how I view myself, I am taking an important step toward a more accurate view, one that can yield more peace. As that picture of how I see myself consistently includes the strength and resources I have been given to bring to the table, I get on the road to getting unstuck from this helpless place. Understanding the fact that: I have the means to change my own experience opens the door to increased freedom and many new possibilities!