Notes of Growth By Anonymous
A few weeks into quarantine my therapist mentioned I was adapting better than a lot of people. She asked if I understood why. Here are some of the reasons I think I am doing Ok which pretty much means, “Quite a bit more than surviving but just a notch below thriving.”
First, the most important aspect of these ramblings is, “If you try this out and it doesn’t work for you, don’t stop trying.” These are things I’ve found useful, but just because they work for me doesn’t mean they’ll work for everybody. We are all a ‘lil’ different.
One of the more important aspects for improving my life was finding a therapist that works for me. It really has to be the fit. If it doesn’t work, move on to another. It may seem endless and horrible searching for the right fit, but in the end, it can truly make all the difference. Be truthful with her/him to the best of your abilities. She’s there for you and not being honest will only hinder her ability to help you. Remember most therapists didn’t become therapist for oodles of money. They chose this profession because they want to help.
Next is trusting your doctor to figure out the right medicine for you and sticking to it. If the medicine isn’t working, be vocal and share why it’s not working. Others can’t help you if you’re not helping yourself. Once you’ve found the right cycle stick to it. It feels weird harping on a medicine routine when I honestly could crown myself king of the seven kingdoms of not taking my medicine. (Sorry, I’m currently watching Game of Thrones.)
Next and probably the most crucial for me (and I can’t stress this enough) GET COMFORTABLE BEING ALONE. That’s not to say you should abandon the healthy people who you are relying on for support. It’s to say it’s time to look closely at your relationships and decide which ones may need to go, even if that means you have to go solo for a while. Become OK with being alone so you can stop settling for less than you want and less than you deserve. Get so comfortable being alone that it becomes your norm, especially early on. Unhealthy relationships can hinder you and negate progress. I know it feels so good to have the comfort of another person, but being alone gives you a chance to figure out who you are, what you like, what drives you, and what inspires you. Get so comfortable being alone that it will take something extraordinary to change it because that’s what you deserve. After a while the things that you find desirable will change right along with you. Dependability, trust, caring, compassion, and just being able to enjoy being with another person without judgement, fear, or manipulation will become what you desire. As those traits improve in you, your ability to search and find them in others will, too. I know, easier said than done, but it is worth it in the end.
Another thing that’s helped me immensely is exercise. Not only does it release the “great and all-powerful happy drugs” in your brain, but you’ll get a sense of accomplishment every time you get through that workout. You’ll look better for it – skin, smile, body all change in a positive way. Make sure you choose an exercise you enjoy. For me it’s running, basketball, and lifting. It’s all still a work in progress but it is progress.
Change really started to happen for me once I made a list of some attainable goals I genuinely wanted to achieve. It’s Ok if they are a little challenging but keep them realistic enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed (made that mistake first). Try to make sure they cover a wide range of desires so you can really diversify. One goal I set was to start saving. I ate out less and cooked at home. Without meaning to, I developed a new life skill. Other goals were to exercise regularly, practice self-empathy, read more, and develop meaningful relationships.
One of the most important goals I set was to not complete my list. This was pretty essential for me so that the perfectionist aspect in me didn’t get out of hand.
Another important aspect for me was looking closely at my relationships. I imagined taking out alcohol and just hanging out with my companions. If I couldn’t see myself sitting down and having a cup of coffee with them for two hours and carrying on a meaningful conversations without a phone for distraction, I reduced the time I spent on that relationship. Remember, friends aren’t always “one size fits all.” I have exercising friends, friends I go out to eat or cook with, friends I go to concerts with, and friends I trust to call when I’m crying at 3 am. We’re all multidimensional people with multidimensional personalities.
You are going to have moments when you fail and resort to old habits. The key is to come back and keep trying. Sometimes it’ll feel like ten steps forward and almost as many back. If you keep working and have patience, it will gradually come out better than before. You’ll learn to love who you are and not what others want you to be. You didn’t collect all those scars and wounds in one day and you aren’t gonna be able to fix them in one day, either. Just keep trying: the world does eventually get brighter!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janie Pfeifer Watson
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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