My apologies, folks. Somehow, I blinked and it’s October. I guess I wasn’t kidding when I said that September is nothing but chaotic in the therapy room. September was chalk full of last-minute requests for crisis-fueled sessions, educational advocacy, daunting piles of paperwork, and juggling my own humanness in the forms of dentist (yuck) and doctor appointments. I wish I had more thought-provoking material to report, however my days did not leave much room for pensive ponderings. Instead, I hit the ground at a full sprint, trying to keep an overwhelmed schedule running ‘status quo’.
Another part of me has been uncomfortably distracted by negativity looming over our heads. The point of this blog I had envisioned when I first began it was to be delightfully thought probing, and if anything, a safe space to land and catch one’s breath. So, I doubt many would find delight in the doom and gloom of a therapist ruminating in her own frustrations at impact of the brokenness of systems all around us. Take a peek at any news platform and you can catch storylines hinting at the robbery of women’s rights, missing humans, failing education systems, and an unrelenting Pandemic. For now, I’ll leave my meanderings at that.
While I’ve been subconsciously searching for a word to capture my internal experiences, I stumbled across a term that was uniquely validating. Perhaps, it will be for you too.
As silly as it may be, the image of Squidward from Spongbob Squarepants pops into my mind. The grey sea creature with the funny looking nose and the horrible clarinet playing abilities that paraded on the TV screens of my childhood. He is the prime, tangible example of what it means to feel languished.
It’s the experience of feeling stuck, muddled, and hollow.
As if it would be to exist peering through a muddy windshield day after day.
Aimlessness has to be one of the most gnawing sensations for me. I’m a direct aim and fire kinda gal. Yet, the past two years has muddled that ability, and the joy that accompanied it.
Instead I feel as if I am stuck in an aimless game of chasing my own tail.
A predominant theme in therapy has shifted to crisis management and focus on the immediate future, leaving little reliability to benefit from goal orientation further out. Clients arrive with a dullness to their eyes because of their own chaos they’ve trudged through that day haunts them. Windows of stress tolerance are slim, and I notice the increasing propensities we all have to spit venom at one another.
We are all overtired toddlers sick of trying to shove the square peg in the shapeshifting hole, and we could all use a really good nap.
There is an overall absence of well-being. A depletion of fulfillment. Our motivation is waning, our abilities to focus are foggy, burnout is fierce, and our sense of productivity is that of a Florida thunderstorm. Largely unpredictable and mostly a pain in the neck.
And you know what?
It’s OK to be aimlessly in this spot emotionally. It’s OK to not be the epitome of mental health. It’s OK to snack a little more, to exercise a little less. Because what’s important is that you meet yourself where you are at with compassion rather than criticism. Compassion will prime the way for the moments that soothe our languishing souls. Compassion will leave the light on for when crisis management fades and we regain our confidence in seeking fulfillment and predictability. Compassion for our humanness will maintain the candle of hope for peaceful days to come.
Somehow, I woke up this morning and it was September. Peeking into the social media world, and it’s hard to miss folks kicking up their heels in celebration of pumpkin-spiced goodies and welcoming the season of spooky and sweaters. Football is at the cusp of its season’s kickoff, and people are eagerly formulating their fantasy football leagues.
September is a notoriously hectic month in the therapy room. Sessions have a reliable uptick in frequency as people settle into the rigor of demands exuded by school, work, and regularly programmed life happenings. I’ve always wondered about the correlations. Perhaps it’s a mix of first report cards, lack of sleep, and realization we’re not in the ‘Kansas’ of summer vibes anymore.
Thematically, there has been a shared point of ‘stuckness’ amongst those who grace the therapeutic space. One that seems to be the glue that halts one’s narrative of forward progression through life and damns them to their own versions of Groundhog’s Day. While not out rightly proclaimed, this theme presents itself within narratives in forms like “I don’t know how much longer I can take this” or overgeneralizations such as “I’m always going to feel this way” and “it’s never going to get better”. The list goes on, but you have an idea of the headspace.
Fun fact, each one of us has an internal dialogue that is maintained throughout our lives.
Yes folks, we talk to ourselves.
All the time.
This does not make us crazy. This makes us living beings with abilities to form conscious thoughts. Our internal narration of our experiences and perspectives cultivates our morals, values, and opinions. Think of this as our metaphorical fingerprint that contributes to our uniqueness as individuals.
We are existing conundrums because all of us engage in an internal conflict of finding change uncomfortable, yet craving change when our experiences are perceived as stagnant. In a perfect world, we could pick and choose what changed and what stayed the same. Yet, we all know this only exists in the Marvel Universe, fairytales, and religious beliefs.
What is the story you are telling yourself?
Sit for a minute and let that question marinate within your mind. Imagine if that internal voice began to narrate through the lens of which you perceive your life. What would it say?
In a world that exists largely outside of our control, the story we tell ourselves is the one aspect that is rightfully ours. If you recall in a blog a few posts ago, I explored three aspects of life that are guaranteed to us along our journeys. These are the beginning of life, the end of it, and the change that exists in between. There are many factors that come into play that try to talk us out of these assurances such as emotions and the influence of others. The fancy term for when emotions begin to define our fate is emotional reasoning. For example, if we feel defeated, then we must be doomed to despair for the rest of our existence. Cognitive Behavior Therapy would have a hay day with that mentality.
No matter what emotions might tell us, the story we tell ourselves does not have to be dictated by overgeneralizations that knock the wind out of our sails.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself, friends.
The frustration we can all resonate with presently is extremely valid. Our experiences feel stagnant because there is a giant Pandemic interrupting our regularly scheduled expectations of how life is supposed to be. We are existing within a season of life where “this isn’t how I imagined my life” is the perpetual catch phrase. Our nation is stomping their feet and banging their fists in protest. I get it. I feel it too.
However, the frustration and anxiety does not have to dictate your story.
This is where we are faced with a choice.
We can either succumb to our emotional experiences and allow them to color our internal storylines, or we can make room for both. We can recognize our emotions and choose to honor the humans we are existing in a chapter of life that’s hard as hell.
Our lives are a chapter book.
We fill in the pages.
In what manner and through what lens is very much in our hands.