Here we are again! It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the eve of inauguration day in the U.S. I don’t want to exploit the importance of MLK Jr., his words, and his work, but I sure am thinking about intergenerational trauma.
I am thinking about how and whether we can actually heal from trauma in a world that is unsafe, in a world that is dangerous, in a world that is violent. I am thinking about how recovering and reclaiming our nervous system requires a safe and compassionate society.
I am thinking about how hypervigilance can be a boon, how survival instincts are survival techniques in a world (in a country) that is deeply oppressive. I’m thinking about our Black siblings who continue to largely fight alone for us all.
I am thinking about how moderate politics is not the answer to creating a world that is welcoming, loving, and patient. And how it has continued to fail us thus far.
I am asking myself what else I can do, and to what else can I commit, to support social justice. I am wondering what else you can do, and to what else you can commit, to support social justice besides reading about and listening to BIPOC voices.
Perfectionism – What are the fears and painful past experiences that drive you toward perfectionism? While wanting to create good work, informed work is important, perfectionism often shows up with a great deal of anxiety, shame, and doubts about self-worth.
Productivity – We seek purpose and meaning as human beings. Unfortunately, we often equate purpose with productivity, when in fact productivity under capitalist societies do not respect the worth of a human and is never satisfied with what you can realistically offer. How else could you seek and build meaning in life?
Sense of Self – Who are you when you aren’t working? Who could you be? How else could you describe yourself and what could your life look like if work weren’t your entire life?
Avoidance – Avoidance of painful memories and experiences is normal human behavior, but is avoidance taking away from you much more than it is giving you? If so, what do you need to tackle avoidance so that you can truly embody your life?
If you truly enjoy your work and have a good work-life balance, none of these may apply to you, or they may still show up to a degree that you can tolerate. However, if you find that you are absent from yourself and/or your life, I encourage you to consider different ways to explore these issues.
I will discuss a few ways therapy can help in the next post, so stay tuned!
A Very Happy Dashain to all those who celebrate this joyous festival!
It’s a tough year for this celebration – fewer hands to bless us, fewer games and dances, even fewer resources for many than usual, and perhaps an increased sense of isolation in addition to the usual sense of separation if you are a part of the Nepali or Bhutani diaspora. If you are in a region affected by climate change like us here in Colorado or by an oppressive government like in the US at this time, this festival may be especially painful right now. Sending you all a lot of love and warmth this season. I hope that even if the incredible social aspect of this festival is absent right now, a sense of love and belonging, of playfulness, and of fighting for the good of our communities are present and palpable.
If you describe yourself as a busy bee or a workaholic, if you work long hours or everyday of the week, is it because of your financial circumstance and responsibilities? Is it because you are now venturing into something new and need to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible? Is it because your sense of self comes from the work you do and how productive you are? Is it because you are trying to avoid something?
Often we can get wrapped up in work because having free time can be scary or intimidating. You might wonder (and not want to know), what you are going to do with the thoughts that come, or the emotions, or the sense of isolation, etc.
It’s okay to avoid unpleasant and painful things, memories, emotions, thoughts, etc. That’s normal human reaction. It’s also sometimes very necessary and perhaps even life-preserving.
However, if you find yourself avoiding being with yourself more often than not through work, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why, and to be curious how and when you will know it’s time to delve into what you have been avoiding. You don’t have to dive into anything. Allow yourself to start with just dipping your toes in first, taking in the temperature, and noticing the accompanying sensations.
If you are worried about all the talking and listening you will have to do in therapy, here’s a good news for you – that is not the primary focus in all therapeutic modalities out there! Okay, so there’s always at least a little bit of talking and listening, but you don’t have to open up about anything you are not ready to do.
Did you know that you can work with an art therapist or an equine therapist? There are also therapists who incorporate movement and dancing into their work.
If you are looking for a trauma therapist, but are worried about sitting down to talk about painful things, first, refer to my post about misconceptions, and second, perhaps working with someone who offers animal assisted therapy may be a good fit. That way, you can hang out with a sweet animal therapist and a human therapist at the same time!
Look into EMDR, brainspotting, or somatic therapy modalities and see if they might be a good fit for you.
If you want to look at the connection between your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, look into CBT, DBT, or ACT. Or you can go the traditional route and find a psychoanalyst. There are many options available to you. Just ensure that your therapist is trained in the modality they practice and ask them about how it works. Most importantly, stick around for a bit to see if it’s working. It takes time, building a trusting relationship with your therapist, and integrating what you learn to know if something is really up your alley.