I’ll admit it, I think in black and white most of the time. Usually I’m classifying whether something is good or bad, right or wrong. You know, that super harsh kind of thinking that mostly leads to being hyper critical of oneself? This girl!
I recently began a new therapy journey. I’ve committed to go twice a week, ongoing, to help me deal with a lot of the trauma I dealt with as a child that’s lead me to some unhealthy thought and behaviour patterns (black and white thinking included). My therapist started using IFS (Internal Family Systems) with me to try to help me see all of the different coping mechanisms and their triggers that have formed over the years.
Up until now, I’ve been very ashamed of some of the parts of myself. I’ve judged myself pretty harshly for ways that I react to situations, even seeing it happen in the moment and not being able to stop myself. I know a lot of these behaviour patterns formed as protective mechanism in response to trauma and abuse that I experienced, but it doesn’t stop me from hating on myself for them.
I read recently that although these behaviours may have stopped serving us long ago- we actually shouldn’t hate on them, we should recognize the role they played in trying to protect us and show them some gratitude before we send them off for good. I think I like this idea, and the IFS therapy is showing me how that’s possible.
What we did was have me go through all the different “characters” that make up my entire self. My therapist coached me through it but then I continued the exercise on my own.
Then we dove deeper into one of my parts that I called the Bossy Teacher/Drill Sergeant and we broke down WHY this part of me comes out, what it’s aim is and what it’s biggest fear is if it doesn’t show up. (It’s the part of me that seems to show up most often and the part of me that I like and understand the least). Today I finally realized that this part of me shows up because I’m afraid if I don’t go into this mode, i won’t be able to handle life and everything with crumble around me, I’ll lose control and I’ll become my mother. Woah.
Basically my worst fear.
Logically, I know it’s so silly. I know I won’t become my mom if I’m nurturing instead of cold and tough-lovey. Logically, I know if I show weakness my entire world won’t come crashing down around me. But in my emotional, animal brain, I’m super duper afraid of this and it feels VERY necessary. It’s my go-to, knee-jerk reaction to other people’s needs.
Maybe I feel I can barely handle my own needs, so if someone else needs me I better toughen up and get shit done.
ANYWAY! Looking through all the different parts of myself like this, as if they are players in a cast, helps me feel a little bit less judgemental towards them. It helps me to see that just because they are a part of me, doesn’t mean they ARE me or define me. It also helps me to see how complex I am as a human being. Each of my parts has it’s helpful aspects and it’s hindrances and none can simply be labeled good or bad.
When I started therapy, just over a month ago, I didn’t have a clue how I would start to tackle these deeply engrained thought patterns- but I’m really starting to feel hopeful. That I won’t always have to carry these burdens and that my load can be lighter and I can let go of so much of this.
So much so that I’ve been feeling giddy after my sessions!
I’m really looking forward to the future in a way that I never have before. ❤️