“There is nothing wrong with you.”
I remember the first time someone ever said that to me. I was in the midst of my first social work job, working with adults suffering from substance use disorders.
I thought the idea was nuts considering that I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. I was overweight, underpaid, single (I used to see this as a flaw), and felt like I had nothing to offer.
It was total crap. I had a master’s degree, a good job, and friends and family that loved me. I even owned my own home.
But I still felt broken.
My thought system was the result of years of programming supplemented by the stories that I’d created in my head to justify my suffering.
I lived in my dysfunction. If anyone brought up an idea that contradicted my ideas and beliefs about myself, I rolled my eyes (internally, I hope…) and let them say what they needed to say so I could just get out of there. The very thought made me feel very uncomfortable because it went against everything I knew to be true.
Have you ever met someone to nurtured their stories? Even when presented with contradictory evidence, they still won’t see the truth?
“No good. Can’t hear ya.”
It’s called cognitive dissonance.
When my friend suggested that there was nothing wrong with me, I already had evidence in my brain that proved him wrong. My brain immediately prepared a Power Point presentation that I would use to convince him of his wrong-ness. I’m sure he saw the look on my face because he told me to just sit with it. He gave me the time and space to consider his alternative belief.
Could he be right? What evidence did he have? My analytical brain went nuts with this because every piece of evidence I had supported my rejection of this new idea.
Looking back (with my new way of approaching health and wellness) I find it funny that I was tasked at the time with helping people get sober. I have always been better at solving other people’s problems.
“There is nothing wrong with you.”
This one statement lead me to question what I believed about myself. Where did those beliefs come from and why did I believe them?
After some time, it was clear that these beliefs weren’t mine. I inherrited them. If they weren’t mine, then I could give them back and choose replacements. One of my greatest realizations was finally understanding that I did have control over my thoughts and feelings. It’s not the other way around.
If our perception is our reality…
…and our perceptions change based on how we feel…
…then that means that we can consciously and deliberately change reality.
If we choose to.
My perception was that if a person had struggles, then they were broken and putting themselves back together.
My new perception was that we have challenges and we deal with them the best way we know how. Does being overweight make me less of a person? No. Were my clients at the time worth less because they abused drugs and alcohol? NO.
We all have pain. People get sick. Natural disasters happen. Timing doesn’t match. Whatever. Shit happens. It’s what we think/feel about the shit turns it into a problem. Looking at our issues as challenges rather then problems helps us maintain control of the situation. We decide how to handle it.
Our problems do not handle us.
Not anymore. 🙂
There are steps to making this shift more permanent.
- Ask yourself, “Is this a problem?” If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I ask “Why is this a problem” A LOT. The words we use influence how we think and feel about our challenges. A problem is something to be dealt with. A challenge is something to overcome. Can you see the difference? Each sentence even feels different as you read it.
- Can something be done? What actions need to be taken?
- Do I have all the information I need to make a plan?
- If nothing can be done, identify and allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Then let it pass. Different techniques like mindfulness and meditation can be extremely helpful when processing upsetting feelings.
- Remind yourself that you are not a problem. You’re a human being. You have challenges just like everyone else. You already possess the power you need to make different choices.
And remember, always remember, YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. You’re not a thing to be fixed. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be challenged by the universe. It just means that you are okay as you are.
Sending love to you,