Not too long ago I ran across an interesting article and immediately shared it with a friend who also agreed wholeheartedly with the author. You can read it here. As a therapist I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to clients about accepting themselves and not basing their happiness on the presence of another person. But let’s admit it, we all want acceptance, companionship, and validation. The author brings out a good point when she talks about a strange sort of contentment in doing your own thing 100% of the time. You don’t have to consult with anyone or let someone know where you’re going when you leave the house. It’s like settling into a homeostasis of sorts. You aren’t obligated to constantly think about the welfare of another person. If only you could order a significant other as easily as one does an Uber or Lyft. You could specify various characteristics that you wanted and then request. As promised, a companion would suddenly appear on your doorstep, the epitome of all your hopes and dreams. No heartache or second guessing because you’ve just met your soulmate and you know that you’ll live happily ever after. Let’s be real, there’s a certain amount of selfish that is perfectly acceptable being a single person that just won’t fly in a relationship. You can’t get your way and never compromise and still expect to have a successful partnership. The author brings out a good point when she discusses the constant self-analysis and diagnosis that happens when you try to make sense of a phenomenon that is supposed to occur within a certain time frame. I have to say that I agree with her conclusion.
I’ve never been much of a groupie but I must admit that it was cool to share an airport terminal train with Michaela Watkins, one of the stars in my favorite Hulu show, Casual. While it definitely contains some adult content, the show accurate depicts a lot of the confusion and anguish that can accompany relationships that merely casual. Michaela plays a therapist who is a recent divorcee and a single mother. She’s great at what she does but finds it hard to separate her personal from her own professional self. All the characters in the show experience their own personal crisis that make them more aware of who they are as people. The show is messy like real life often is. There’s so much ambivalence and the characters struggle with being honest with themselves and their partners. We often have to operate and make decisions based on limited information. Casual is a good show because it makes you think and do some honest analysis of the complicated relationships in your life.
One thing in life that is always inevitable is change. I remember imagining what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always imagined myself with stethoscope around my neck shouting orders in some emergency room as a trauma physician. Instead I ended up in mental health calming down psychotic people, explaining to parents why I was taking their child, and attempting to reason with psychiatrists. I worked in the mental health equivalent of the ER and found that I did enjoy it. It’s always been interesting to me how our life experiences can shape our perspectives and general outlook on life. If I had seen myself 5 years ago I would not have believed it. For me, the change happened once I was outside of the protective bubble of my family and the group of people who thought like me. It was eye opening to work with people who had a totally different set of beliefs and values than what I had been used to. There’s a lot of people who don’t agree with the traditional education system but it helped me to build my critical thinking skills. My post-graduate competency based program taught me how to conceptualize and justify every intervention that I did while doing therapy with clients. I think that it’s so important to be open minded. While I’m not saying that every varying perspective needs to be agreed with, I think that seeing something from another point of view is important.
I’ve always been a fan of strategic procrastination but also getting things done in time and meeting deadlines. Recently I’ve been putting off some things that need to be done within the next six week or they will derail my educational goals. While I have been in school for the past few years, I can honestly say that it’s more of a necessary evil than anything else because I want the credentials for my chosen career field. So one of the reasons why I’m still procrastinating with getting some of this work done is because of thought distortions. That’s one great thing about being a therapist. I know when my thought patterns aren’t logical–but I digress. I’ve always been someone who lives in black or white. While I am fine functioning in the grey for clients or for professional reasons, it’s different on a personal level. So the thought (which is NOT logical by the way) is that by completing what I have to do I’ll also be shutting the door or saying goodbye forever to another dream of mine that may not end up being compatible with my current choices. As I start the process of overcoming the procrastination and finishing some of these tasks, I have the mental picture of making a coffin. Cutting and sanding the sides and making some intricate designs on the sides. This coffin will be used to bury a specific dream that will be gone away forever never to return. But I know that’s a thought distortion and that it’s not really true. It can be so easy to get caught up in those distortions and not take the time to actually challenge them and i am no exception to that. However, the truth of the matter is that I’m just going to have to push through it and get the work done. And I will. Because of all the things I play around with, my life isn’t one of them.
One thing that never fails to annoy me is when people state emphatically that people in relationships or married people have no business going to or seeking counsel from people who aren’t married. Now on the surface this perspective appears to make a lot of sense. What business do you have going to someone who isn’t in a relationship themselves to get advice? What if you followed this advice and went to someone who was actually married and their advice wasn’t sound because they could only give counsel in the context of their current situation and could only say what they would do if they were you? One of the reasons that I think that this logic is flawed is that when you apply it to other situations it makes absolutely no sense. Do you refuse to be treated by a medical professional because he or she has never experienced your particular medical challenge? Would you refuse the aid of a lifeguard when you’re drowning because he or she has never been in your predicament before? Or better yet, would you ignore a policeman or a fireman when you’re in a dangerous situation because they haven’t been in your shoes? Absolutely not. The reason why we are willing to trust these people and take their suggestions, directions, and counsel so seriously is because we believe that they have skills we don’t possess and we trust in the quality of their training. The same concept applies to therapists. If someone took the time to get the necessary education and gain the right skills, their current relationship status is irrelevant. A lot of people don’t realize the work that goes into becoming licensed to provide therapy. In addition to a master’s degree, you have to work in the field for 2 years or more after graduation and complete at least 3000 or more work hours depending on your state. I say all this to say that you should trust the training a therapist has instead of writing him or her off because they aren’t just like you. That’s stupid.