“Well things in my life are pretty bad right now, but others have it way worse, so I shouldn’t be too upset about it.” Sound familiar?
How about, “Yeah, it really hurt me, but one of my friends has had to go through it way more than me, so I shouldn’t be too mad, right?” Well, not necessarily…
Others may seem to have bigger problems and bigger issues in their lives; this does not make whatever happened to you any less painful or real. It is your reality and your reality is valid. Do not diminish what you are going through just because you know people have gone through things that may seem worse to you. This belief does not serve you in any way. In fact, it can actually harm you. By invalidating your emotions, you begin to minimize what you are actually feeling.
Sometimes we minimize our feelings because we are afraid that others will respond with, “Yeah? Well this happened to me and that’s way worse.” We need to stop comparing our issues with others. Everyone’s experience through life is unique and the way we handle each situation thrown at us is equally unique. Sometimes it just helps to know that while other’s problems may seem bigger than our own, the way you’re feeling is not something that you should just ignore or push down. Your reality is valid. While the issues at hand may not seem to be equal in scope to you, everyone’s reality is valid, no justification necessary.
“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
We’ve all been there. Feeling as if you are being pulled in 20 different relational directions while juggling five sticky life circumstances all the while trying to appear as if you don’t have a care in the world. We live in a society that screams do it all and attain it all. Work a full-time job while parenting three young kids. Add getting to the gym 5 days a week and weekly date nights with your significant other…and eating organic…and attending every social event…and before you know it, your life plate is overflowing, and your emotional/mental/spiritual tank is empty. How do we break this cycle? How do we say no to stress and yes to rest?
I recently came across a definition of overwhelmed, that left me wondering what sabotaging core beliefs were leaving me feeling anxious, tense, and exhausted. Beliefs that left me feeling overwhelmed.
Merriman-Webster states one definition of overwhelmed is to overpower in thought and feeling. To overpower in thought and feeling. Let’s process through the following three sabotaging beliefs that might be leaving you feeling, like me, overwhelmed.
The belief that you must have everything figured out. This belief disguises itself in a protective nature that declares if I can figure it out, then I can control it. And if I can control it, then I can keep myself safe, happy, and secure. While we are attempting to have everything figured out, the idol of knowledge is robbing us from the gifts of awe and wonder. Which leads us to the next sabotaging belief.
The belief that the unknown is to be feared. We plan, worry, and obsess about what the future holds. We wonder if our future days meet the hopes and expectations we have stored in our hearts and in this wondering, we fear that it won’t. But what if it doesn’t? Some of the most marvelous occurrences have happened after the worst storms. Some of the most beautiful character traits are refined through the fiercest trials. Planning is needed; however, obsessing and worrying about the future is robbing us from the gifts of peace, presence, and rest.
The belief that rest is unproductive. When is the last time you disconnected from the world and enjoyed the beauty of silence? Taking time to just be and reflect on your life might hold the key that points you to something bigger than yourself. A purpose bigger than you could ever have imagined. Reflecting on the ‘why’ you are running the race of life will invigorate and inspire you to run with determination. Don’t let busyness rob you from recognizing the gift of purpose.
If you are looking for permission to stop juggling the proverbial balls of life, here it is. And as you watch the balls roll away, watch awe, wonder, peace, rest, presence, and purpose prevail.
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.”
As culturally responsive mental-health professionals, we must consider multiple, interlocking identities that compound and add complex layers to the stories of our clients.
Therapeutic discussions that explore and deconstruct the nuanced web of intersecting social identities such as age, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, ability, class, education, occupation, spirituality, etc. etc. are integral to understanding pain and power; how oppression and privilege may manifest simultaneously.
Skipping these conversations is like throwing away essential pieces to a complex, ever-changing puzzle. Inviting these kinds of discoveries into the room early on can enhance case conceptualizations and shows clients we are not going to shy away from understanding a more intricate and complete picture of their experiences and all the emblematic elements that make up who they are in this world.
Here are some opening questions to guide your conversation into intersecting identities: •
Remember: Examining our own intersecting identities can help us become more comfortable and compassionate in our work with clients.
After all, “The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.”