My journey of becoming a psychotherapist started almost 10 years ago. After joining the information evening at the university, I felt this strong urge to begin the study, I said to myself: I must do this or else I might regret it. I guess it was what we call the gut feeling telling me I am in front of something really big. So I started studying and I must say that this has been the most amazing journey of my life and I would take it again from zero if I would have to.
This journey took me to this day, when I am practicing being a psychotherapist in my own office.
For some reasons, I have always been attracted to learn about happiness. I read books, I watched movies and Ted Talks, I took online classes just to understand what makes people happy. I learned about positive emotions, I learned about how to cultivate compassion and kindness, I did positive journaling and I even installed the app called Happier on my phone J. All these being done I was still experiencing moments of unhappiness and I couldn’t get to understand: why? I have a beautiful family, I am do meaningful work, I live in a great country, I am healthy…
I was starting to feel a bit like an impostor: Am I preaching about happiness theories, when I, myself was not happy?? That got me thinking about what was not working well.
It was the moment when I started reflecting about my own TRUTH: what are my deep core values and how truthful am I with myself? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What makes me happy, what makes me sad? I can still hear Sandy, my life coach telling me: Elena, be honest with yourself!”
This is how I discovered some values that I was not proud about, but I had them, maybe inherited from my family, maybe from the society I have been living in. And I realized I had to overcome the feeling of shame to be able to disclosure these values. I felt shame towards myself and shame towards those who have heard my truth. But isn’t shame often a feeling that accompanies us when we are being really truthful? Isn’t often shame that keeps us from telling the truth? Especially when it comes from something that is outside the society rules. And yes, I think society has a word to say in us revealing truth, it is what we call “the social discourse” that keeps or encourages us to tell the truth. And often society is the one making us feel judged.
But beyond my shame, to my surprise, being honest with myself and bringing my own truth up to the surface has helped me in many ways:
- It helped me feel relief because I said it, I said what bothered me about myself and nobody judged me for it. There were no catastrophic consequences;
- It helped me because now, when I am conscious about my dark parts, as I call them, I can actively try to change them when I see I am acting upon them;
- It helped me feel more authentic towards other people and this way I can receive more authenticity back, as people tend to reflect back our behavior;
- It did help me feel happier because I’ve got to know myself and so I could accept my limitations, my vulnerability instead of trying to be perfect, the perfect therapist with no faults.
As I felt I was being truthful with myself, I started to feel stronger. It is like you know what you can rely on when something strikes you in your life. Because life does strike, someone dear to us might die, we might lose our job, we might become sick. But when life strikes, it is good to know OUR TRUTH, our strengths and our weaknesses, as we cannot control the outside events, but we can control our response to them.
Through my own experience I’ve got to understand the core of positive psychology and to understand what makes me happier:
- If I am happy with my truth, I know I am my own friend and I like myself;
- If I am happy with my truth, I know there is always something to learn and improve about me and I am not afraid of being judged;
- If I am happy with my truth, I can reach towards others when life strikes because I know I deserve it, and I can offer help because I know I have resources;
- If I am happy with my truth, I can also help others find their own truth.
So now I know, I can be happy, and I can also be unhappy. But it is ok, I accepted it as part of my life, as I wouldn’t value my happiness if I didn’t experience moments of unhappiness, as I would not value TRUTH if there were no lies.
To end my story, I found this wonderful quotation that I feel it expresses in just a few words the essence of truth:
“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
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