I’m Watching the Olympics this year, and my heart is breaking.
Heavy as I catch glimpses into the vulnerability these athletes are having to bare.
There’s an element to these games that has gone unspoken and I can see it slowly suffocating our beloved Olympians.
They are not meant to do this alone.
On the surface, these people are polished. The epitome of health. Their bodies scream athleticism. Yet, these shouts seem to distract from the chaos that swirls within them.
The chaos has begun to peak through their chiseled exteriors. The raw emotional storm that wrecked through Dressel at the sight of his loved ones thousands of miles away after he won Gold in the 100m freestyle begged tears from my eyes. Perhaps it’s just me, but those tears were not solely from the joy of triumph but echoed the soulful sorrow of isolation and longing. He and his people all but reached for one another through the screens. The media tried in desperate attempts to shrug the video connection off as a “blessing they get to connect so soon after the meet”. Yet, their was deep pain that flickered behind his eyes.
Olympians are not meant to do this alone.
Oh Simone. Beautiful girl, my heart swells for you. The building of the media’s perseveration on her as God-like cultivated nothing beneficial. She’s a glimmer of light in a world gagged by darkness, and she has had to bear the brunt of millions desperation for joy. The limelight was thrust upon her, and she was willed into America’s distraction without much say.
So many are so quick to brush off the horrendous trauma Simone and so many others endured. Stuck in their privilege of not having first hand experience with the post traumatic stress symptoms survivors of abuse endure unabatedly.
We took this young woman, willed her into giving up her humanness for the sake of our joy, and plopped her on a stage to perform in nothing but a robotic nature.
Olympians are not meant to do this alone.
Our beloved athletes don’t do this for their own selfish pride. They do not train for hours a day, seven days a week, for years for pure self-satisfaction and bragging rights.
They do this for those that make their word go around.
They do this for the fulfillment of the systems they exist in.
Without those that create safe spaces and ooze unconditional love as they shout out words of encouragement until their voices cease to exclaim, the ability to remain grounded and centered becomes off-kilter.
Simone is just as human as you are.
Dressel is just as human as the person next to you.
The amazing people who are a world away are more deserving of our love and support than perhaps any Olympians before them. Personally, I am in awe of the resiliency embraced.
We, nor they, are meant to do this thing called life, alone.
I live for the phrases I hear throughout my days that tickle my soul. That stop me mid-step as if I hear the tune of a catchy song, I can’t help but whistle along to. The flavor of these phrases are enticing, and I follow the tangential muse as one would be drawn to the aroma of a savory sweet wafting through one’s home. For someone whose mind is always busy, these phrases are a welcome change of mental pace.
A hop, skip, and jump ago, I stumbled across the witticism “recalibrate the universe”. Someone was nursing a bruised ego of being stood up, and another someone responded to their defeat in this notable way. I couldn’t help but let a grin spread across my face at the thought of living life abundantly in response to a disappointing situation.
I mean, think about it.
It’s quite the middle finger to the composition of a lackluster experience.
A commonality in my work is reexamining how we manage our power in any given situation. Whenever we devote our mind’s dwellings to anxiety or overbearing anger, we are also handing over our personal power to the source of discomfort on a silver platter. For those who provoke the most discomfort out of us, logically they don’t deserve to harbor one of our most sacred possessions, our minds. The complexities that exist in our own heads are so underwhelmingly cherished nowadays. As if it’s a fad to make the existence in one’s own internal dialogue as disastrous as possible. Negative self-talk is popularized due to the critical nature of possessing a contented image of oneself. The popular misconception is that this is “selfish” or “self-absorbed”.
That might be why this simple collection of words threw me off in the most delightful way.
One of the ways we can maintain our power in the face of obstacles or hardships is to focus on recalibrating the universe. Not divulging our thought patterns to the soul-sucking nature of resentment, but to throw our metaphorical middle fingers up in the air and proclaim the right to our power, our thoughts, and our responses to the bullshit that we are all guaranteed to stumble across.
By embracing the courage to live our lives out loud.
You find yourself being stood up by a date? Treat yourself to a three-course meal.
You feel undervalued by your boss? Invest your free time in a passion that lights your world on fire.
You lose two dear family members and your cherished animal companion in the span of three months? Honor their memories and book a trip that prioritizes joy because life is too damn short.
The obstacles that are promised in life do not warrant the robbery of our own personal power. Sure, they demand room within our minds, but they certainly do not have the right to become permanent residents to preoccupy us from the present. You all have the right to your own power and what takes up space in your mind. You are all worthy of this. Despite what the cruelty or ill-natured humans may proclaim.
Go forth, my delightfully messy humans.
Recalibrate the universe by the act of living life out loud.
How Does that Make you Feel?
The infamous line to any assumption of what being a Mental Health Therapist is like.
This assumption is generally followed by images of humans wrapped up in various cardigans, cross-legged in an oversized chair, with framed glasses perched on the end of their noses.
What if I were to burst your bubble and tell you all these myths (besides the cardigans…man do I have a love affair with those suckers) are not entirely true. Honestly, that one-liner is rarely utilized during my work with clients. There also is not a workday that passes without me cross-legged on the ground processing with a kiddo at one point or another.
While I always smile when I catch myself voicing off this stereotypical question, the truth around the premise of working with a Mental Health Therapist is largely skewed. So many clients arrive to therapy craving to remove an emotion from their experienced repertoire. Or perhaps they have been tantalized by the wishful thinking that clinicians are secretly Hogwarts graduates and can whip out our wands and rid them of their challenges with a glittery *poof*.
No folks, no glitzy magical wands are harbored by us therapists.
The point of therapy is to not rid you of the emotional experiences that are seemingly keeping you stuck in the uncomfortable trenches, but to shed light on the choices on what we do with our emotions. The fine print of being a human is that our feelings are an all or nothing situation. We either lean into the full gamut of human emotion, recognizing we must feel the uncomfortable feelings in order to have access to the comfortable, or we shut off one emotion, which quickly leads to a robbing of ANY emotional experience. While our brains seem to show off complexity, our relationship with emotions tend to be dramatic in this sense.
But in all honesty, when we run away from an emotional experience, we tend to lose sight of fully experiencing any emotion to it’s potential. So, if we occupy ourselves with running from emotional pain, then we also lose out on the ability to experience feelings such as joy, pleasure, excitement, and fulfillment. We are simply too distracted by our marathon from the ghost of pain’s past to settle long enough to reap the benefits of emotions we tend to enjoy.
This is where a Mental Health professional steps in.
As a client, one will quickly learn that growing pains do not only occur in their legs.
Therapy is not easy! For the simple fact that a part of the work is to learn how to sit with discomfort of whatever is haunting you. A part of my duty as a clinician is to aid in fostering self-awareness which leads to enlightenment, and this can be a painful process! Not like being stabbed in the stomach by a large knife, but like that burn you feel during an intense gym workout.
Here’s the cold, hard, truth:
Therapy does not work unless you work therapy.
Read that again. Slower this time.
It is NOT a therapist’s job to tell you what to do, or to take an emotional experience away from you. If this happens, please exit stage left ASAP. A therapist’s job is to create a safe, nonjudgmental space for someone to come face-to-face with their “ghosts”. From here, the therapist will foster exploration of different reframes, and processing of the choices the client has in what they do with their emotional experiences. Therapy is an empowering process in which we gain the courage to face our demons, rewrite our patterns, and break generational traumas.
Therapy is an opportunity to rewrite your narrative.
Yet, the key word is opportunity.
Remember, us therapists do not (yet) have magical powers.
Therapy does not work unless you work therapy.