A few decades ago, scads of people searched in earnest to “find themselves”. The general public dismissed this as a lot of hippy hooey. How does it happen that “you” have wandered away such that travelling to relocate yourself is necessary? How do you recognize yourself when you get there? Will you be holding a sign with your name on it, like an airport driver?
These kinds of misinterpretations greeted the seekers and pushed them into the “we’re-not-sure-what-to-do-with-you” category, where at least they would all be together, less likely to stir up mischief among the “civilized” world.
But perhaps this movement was actually tapping into something truly integral to the human experience. The very thing Socrates described when he stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
It seems there are a lot of unexamined lives stumbling around these days, bumping into each other, and feeling very isolated from all the other stumbling bumpers. Many of these “lost” souls have turned to various addictions–drugs, alcohol, eating disorders–to avoid confirming their worst fear: “Deep down, I really am a terrible person, devoid of worth, not deserving of love.”
Meredith Watkins, Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Editor of RecoveryView.com states, “In my work with people suffering from addictions, what strikes me most is this lack of self-awareness and fear that their true identity is inherently flawed, beyond repair. Overcoming this belief and replacing it with a more accurate, positive and healthy one is sometimes the greatest challenge in our work–and the most important.”
Start to ask questions, such as “What things are really important to me and why?” What do I want? How would my life look if I believed differently? What you believe informs what you do. And your actions all have natural reactions or consequences that make up your experience of life. Isn’t that worth a closer look?
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1.
2 Moms and a Mic ?2 Moms and a Mic
Get Ready as I join 2 MOMS AND A MIC August 4, 2010 tune in 1400 KKZZ.com .
You’ve heard the term before. “Shopaholic.” The reference is usually to someone always on the hunt for a new item, a bargain, or the quest to have the latest and the best. But <em>oniomania</em>–the clinical term for this behavior–is no joke. One in 12 people in the United States struggle with this disorder. Of those affected, 80-90 percent are women.
Read some of my thoughts on the subject:
I have a client who’s a shy but talented girl. She loves music, and decided to join the band in her high school. She learned how to play the xylophone, and really enjoys herself when she plays at band practice. But when I saw her, she had a concert coming up and she was so nervous that she was thinking of dropping out of the band.
I asked her what she was so afraid of and she said, “I’m afraid I’ll make mistake while I’m playing.” That’s a fear we all have, isn’t it? We’re afraid we’ll make a mistake–especially when others are watching. Fear of making a mistake can keep us from even starting something new. Our fear ends up defeating us before we even begin.
But my client loves to play music, and I didn’t want her fear to push her into giving it up. So I asked her a simple question: “If you do make a mistake, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”
She thought about this for a moment, and said her fellow band members or someone in the audience might notice and say something to her about it. “And if they did, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” I pressed her.
“I’d be embarrassed,” she said.
“And if you were embarrassed, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”
This time, she shrugged. “I’d be embarrassed.” It didn’t sound so scary when she said it this time. “Nobody would yell at you or hit you, people in the audience wouldn’t throw things at you, you wouldn’t be kicked out of band?”
“No,” she admitted. Okay, we all sometimes think we’d die of embarrassment, but that’s just something people say; nobody actually dies of embarrassment. We just feel it and then move on. My client realized it certainly wasn’t worth giving up something she loves just to avoid feeling embarrassed for a moment.
How many times do we let fear hold us back from trying something new? When we’re afraid, we create giant monsters in our mind–terrible consequences if we fail. But when we stop to really examine these monsters, we see that they’re just annoying little mosquitoes we can swat with ease. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” By asking yourself this simple question, you can break the hold fear has over you and free yourself from the inaction it causes.
“I want to try sushi, but I’m afraid I won’t like it.” If you don’t like it, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You’d have to order something else and pay for both dishes, so you’d be out a few dollars.
“I want to apply for that job, but I’m afraid I’m not qualified.” If you apply and the hiring company decides you aren’t qualified, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You won’t get the job. But you don’t have the job now, so you’d be no worse off than you were before.
“I want to ask that woman for a date, but I’m afraid she’d say no.” If you ask her and she says no, what’s the worst thing that could happen? She might tell her friends you asked her out and she turned you down. You might be embarrassed by that. And if you were embarrassed, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You’d be embarrassed and her friends would know you asked her out. What’s the worst thing that could happen as a result? Not much.
The best way to break through your fear is to examine it coolly and ask yourself if it’s based in reality. When you do that, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in addictions, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and helping her clients find their life purpose. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Life Coach/Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.