Therapy is not enough. I need to do the work.
I thought I was being brave and working on myself by seeing a therapist over the past many years. After all, I try to talk about things that are hard to talk about. But showing up for therapy is actually the easy part. Its on my calendar, I just have to show up. Whatever comes up, comes up, and my therapist helps facilitate the conversation and asks me questions when I don’t have anything to say. It’s hard to bullshit her, so when she asks the hard questions, I try to think about them. Its hard to give her uncooked responses, so I have to dig deeper to really look for answers. Great.
But therapy is not enough. I've been lording that over myself (and sometimes others), that look, I've been working on myself for years. ‘Look at me, I'm so evolved.’ Yes, I have definitely evolved my understanding of myself and have learnt to have more healthy perspectives. I understand how my past affects me, and that helps me not spiral into a vortex of pain and confusion around what's happening to me. But it doesn't always take away the pain. Awareness is great. But its not enough.
Not enough for what? Not enough if I want to thrive and fulfil my potential. Not enough if I want to stop being at the mercy of my mind and emotions. Not enough if don't want to suffer through the same cycles over and over again.
Doing the work, the inner work, is about expending energy and effort to create something or change something. I call it work because it requires action, and action beyond our normal and comfort zone.
I can be self-aware and can see my negative thoughts circle around me. I can point out what they are, where they are coming from, how they don't serve me, etc. But I'm still a victim to these thoughts that circle me. And its been a very sobering reality that I haven't really been doing the level of work I thought I was doing.
But I don’t want to do the inner work, its hard to do!
There is so much resistance to change, resistance to doing the work. It scares me even as I write this now. Its a cool and coherent realization, but the more I write about it, the more dread I feel at the bottom of my stomach. Writing this post and becoming aware of how I've been limiting myself is not enough. I need to actually start taking action, to make any of these worthwhile. Shit.
For example, I'm all too aware of how we create narratives of our lives and situations that don't serve us. That our narratives include interpretations that limit us. I know that we need to change our narratives. That sounds so cool. Lets change our narratives people! Ok, bye now.
Yet, I resist changing my story. For so long, I keep saying stuff like - I'm holding back, all I do is sit in my corner and hide from the world. And I say it like a helpless little thing. Help! Everyday, I tell myself - you did nothing today. You just wasted another day, doing nothing. You're all talk and no do. You're becoming rusty and out of touch with the world. When people ask me what I've been up to, I feel the shame of not having done much. All I do is indulge this kind of thinking. Its the easy thing to think, even if it hurts me. I'm so sick of it.
What if I said, Megha, you're doing great. You're trying everyday. You're connecting with your intentions and purpose everyday. You’re trying to do whats meaningful rather than filling your day/life up with work and jobs that give you a sense of productivity and are just great time fillers. Everyday, you face yourself. And you keep taking small steps and moving in the right direction. You've actually taken some big steps, but they came with the flow of things so you didn't realize. You aren't playing small. You're actually playing big. You are going for it all, and you keep expanding your universe of possibilities. You keep coming back to trying. I'm so proud of you for returning to trying, every single day.
What a story. That sounds way better. And even though there is a voice in my head that could dismiss all of this 'positive' talk, there is also a voice which says that this is true. It’s so true. I can't deny it.
I've known about this neat idea of understanding your personal narrative and changing it for a while. I've only just come around to actually thinking about what the new narrative might be. And I'm only just starting to see that I need to now do the work. Of noticing when my narrative goes off, and bringing it back to this one. Again and again and again. I need to do the work of not indulging the easy way of thinking, and pushing past that to seeing it differently. And I'm hopeful that I will do this more and more. Writing this is a way of trying to ingrain the story within me, so that it becomes easier to remember it when I need it.
And then I see the wall. The wall of resistance. Every time I climb over the wall, it magically reappears again. I want to get so good at climbing it, that it becomes more like hopping over it. But it feels so hard! Like wanting to throw a tantrum and not move kind of hard. Waaaaahhh [whiny sound].
Whats my point?
So what I'm trying to say is, I get it. Its really hard. Every step of kindness, patience, love towards yourself is hard. And just because it was easier yesterday, doesn't mean it can't get harder today.
And its so worth it. As much effort as it takes in the beginning, it always feels so much better on the other side of the wall. And its so much better than hearing the same annoying story over and over again and staying trapped in it. So I'm going to try. This is my life's work. Doing the work on myself.
And if you’re finding it hard too, you’re not alone. I'll trudge alongside you. I'll share what I'm seeing and things I'm trying, and I'll learn from you based on your experience. Its a dirty, muddy path in the middle of a great wilderness.
Also published on www.therapyinindia.com/blog