Do you feel there are things best kept to yourself, things that aren’t fit for the public eye – things you’re deeply ashamed of? For example, I have a patient who struggles to trust her partner. She knows she should, but she just can’t and she sees this inability to trust as an ugly and shameful part of herself. Another patient has such an exaggerated view of body flaws that she starves herself – and feels such self-loathing because of it. These patients bring to therapy not only these symptoms, but a deep and painful shame about what they see as hidden ugliness. What “dysfunctional” behaviors do you engage in that you feel helpless to stop even though you promise yourself you will?
Imagine you’re at home, it’s quiet, and you’re by yourself. What do you feel in that moment? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin – calm in the eye of the storm that is your day? Or, like many people, do you feel like you should be doing something? You should be cleaning the house. Or working. Or working out. You’re supposed to. And there’s something wrong with you if you don’t.
Too many of the women I see in private practice are immobilized by this idea of “should.” And it’s not just the haunting, tenacious feeling that you should do something, but the feeling that you should be something, namely an idealized version of yourself – the kind of person who would clean the house or work or exercise instead of sitting and being with yourself, relaxing into that moment.
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