Have you ever felt certain about your ability to achieve something, only to find out half way through that you had no idea what you were getting yourself into – at best you were underprepared, at worst, completely mistaken.
I’ve reached that point.
I’ve always subscribed to the humanistic approach to psychology – an approach that suggests we are in charge of our thoughts and can change them if we decide to. Though I know this isn’t always true, I believe it is true often enough to make it a useful way of looking at the world and our abilities within it. I’ve used this approach in most of my efforts to improve the way I think and act and so far, it has served me well.
Here’s the challenge: some of the things I thought I had left behind still seem to be ‘in there’. I’ve done a great job of masking them but it has meant striving, hustling, burning myself out so I can do more, be more, have more. I thought I felt empowered but deep down the fear of “not enough” is embedded in the foundations of everything I do – not thin enough, not successful enough, not kind enough, quite simply not good enough. In the past, I might have been able to glaze over these feelings and keep striving but since the goal now is to raise empowered and confident children who understand their worthiness regardless of what they do, I have to root those feelings out. I’m just not sure how to do that.
There is another approach in pyschology, referred to as the psychodynamic or psychoanalytic approach. It works on the belief that the unconscious, irrational and instinctive forces in our minds determine our thoughts and behaviour. It’s Freudian psychology but I always think of this as “Woody Allen psychology” – the ‘shrink’ who gets you on the couch and digs in your mind for stuff you didn’t know was in there.
My limited experience with therapists has always left me thinking “what the hell was the point in that?” and over the last ten years or so, I’ve chosen to go it alone – with relatively good results. I’ve worked my way out of depression more than once, I’ve recovered from an eating disorder on my own and I’ve taken great big leaps into the unknown, career-wise and life-wise, always working on my thoughts and beliefs in such a way that I keep myself moving towards my goals.
But right now, I’m stuck. I can’t tell whether all this digging around in my head is helping or making me crazy. I can’t tell whether I’m onto something or completely hyper-sensitive to things that don’t matter and a little part of me just wants to say sod it all and have a bar of chocolate. Interestingly, I’m not that bothered about the wine, so that’s something, I guess.
Does it really do us good to dig around in our heads to this extent or is ignorance bliss? And if we do go poking about, is it better to go in there with a professional? Would that feel more productive? Would I feel more sure-footed? I honestly don’t know.