𝕀’𝕞 𝕤𝕦𝕔𝕙 𝕒 𝕓𝕒𝕕 𝕖𝕩𝕒𝕞𝕡𝕝𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕒 𝕨𝕣𝕚𝕥𝕖𝕣 𝕨𝕙𝕖𝕟 𝕀 𝕔𝕒𝕟’𝕥 𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕟 𝕔𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕝𝕪 𝕡𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕦𝕡𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕞𝕪 𝕓𝕝𝕠𝕘 𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕟 𝕤𝕖𝕞𝕚-𝕣𝕖𝕘𝕦𝕝𝕒𝕣𝕝𝕪. *𝕝𝕖 𝕤𝕚𝕘𝕙*
𝒩𝑜, 𝐼 𝒶𝓂 𝓃𝑜𝓉 𝒶 𝒷𝒶𝒹 𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝑒𝓇, 𝐼 𝒿𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝓀𝓃𝑜𝓌 𝑜𝒻 𝓈𝑜𝓂𝑒 𝒶𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓈 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝒸𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝓊𝓈𝑒 𝓈𝑜𝓂𝑒. 𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓇𝑜𝓋𝑒𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉.
See what I did there? I recognized and challenged my negative self-talk and self-defeating behavior and called myself out on it. I guess I forget that the “simple tools” that are almost instinctual for me aren’t always tools that everyone uses or remembers to think about, or heck, maybe they don’t even know in the first place!
I think that part of the reason I don’t dive in deep and call out all of those little examples or constant self-improvement situations/thoughts/behaviors is because I have this idea that everyone knows these things and that if I voice them aloud someone may think I’m testing their intelligence or something— but then the other side of me says, “Hey Resa, you’re a licensed professional counselor and have worked as a therapist for the past 8 years and not everyone else thinks and acts on instinct the way you do because you’ve been doing therapy and practicing what you preach for nearly a decade…”
And so the battle in my mind goes back and forth and ultimately today I’ve decided if you are reading this and feel like I’ve insulted your intelligence or that this is somehow personal in any way, sort, or form, to be reminded that those reactions and responses are ALL YOU. I do not have any clue who will read this post and so if something does make you feel “crunchy” in any sort of way, I encourage you to reflect inward and figure out what is really going on, because it has nothing at all to do with the stranger writing this blog post, nor does it have to do with the formation of words and sentences,…. rather, you choose to respond to every situation you face– answering the phone, locking the door, realizing the restaurant got your order wrong, what to do in a traffic jam….. everyday situations– all of them, your response and reaction is your responsibility and your choice. No one can make you feel anything– and if you know someone who has the power to control how you feel I’d like to meet them.
I’m not saying that people say things that might allow us to feel feelings of frustration or anger even that begin to stir up inside each of us… But note I did not say anything or anyone made me feel because they can’t do that. My reaction is my choice.
It’s completely up to me whether I throw two birds in the air impulsively and shout wonderful verbage to a stranger who forgot a blinker or cut me off in traffic…. I have learned through the years that I don’t know nor do I understand anyone else’s story…. So what’s the purpose of yelling at someone for doing something that caused my drive to encounter something I didn’t anticipate. Sure, initially anxiety is my first emotion because I’m not sure of what’s happening and it has knocked me back from my “normal” but I have to remember to step back and find the opportunity– because every situation, person, event, conversation,….everything you encounter has something to offer you. You just have to remember that “We find what we look for.”
So I constantly ask myself “What can I gain from this situation/person/encounter that I can use to better myself?” “What wisdom can I gain from being honored with listening to this person share about themselves and their experiences?”
I won’t misguide you,… there are times that are harder than others.
The first step is paying attention and noticing your thoughts— and then stopping them, and inserting a personal growth challenge or improvement of well-being exercise …. These sound fancy but really are nothing more than calling yourself out, for example, when you automatically judge yourself, something, or someone on instinct…. You don’t have to verbally acknowledge this, but rather let a little
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go off inside of your head as an alert for you to take notice and stop those thoughts. Once you get good at identifying that you’re doing these things, confronting yourself, and stopping the thoughts —you can visually picture this as if you’re catching your teenage children sneaking out of the house and you have that “I got you now” stealth mode and while they think they’re about to get away with it and that no one sees them, YOU SEE THEM! Call them out and turn them right back around with a lesson or two… because that’s what we would do maybe in this scenario, yes? So do this with your thoughts. Notice them, pay attention, call them out, redirect them. Man oh man you can truly grow as a person by merely being able and willing to challenge yourself and recognize that you don’t have all of the answers and that every person you meet knows something that you don’t. CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS- OPEN YOUR MIND UP A LITTLE MORE.
I have a reason for wanting to dive into these ingrained “things,” for lack of finding a better word, that I practice daily– they have become a part of who I am so I really have to pay attention and recognize these self-growth challenges I spout off at myself constantly because I just view them as “Me” but I realize that not everyone is able to see that they have the same tools as I, because no one has ever showed them they exist or how to use them. I also know that there are people out there who are who they are, they know what they know, and they believe what they believe and have no desire whatsoever to waste their time in even considering another viewpoint if it goes against their own, and that’s fine– Hell, a LONG TIME AGO I was this person in some ways.
Younger teenager version of Resa was so sheltered and grew up under an authoritative style of parenting so that leaves little to the imagination in seeing that I was told what to do, how to be, what is right/wrong, etc. and that is that– there was no thought at all back then of even THINKING about challenging what I was told. I just did what I was told and recited what I needed to because that was “right” and I knew from breaking a rule here or there, whether on accident or not, that I was “wrong” automatically and knew the repercussions and thus I avoided any opportunity that might potentially place me in that “wrong” area because I had been there, done that, experienced the hurt and preferred not to hurt.
I was told what was “right” and was informed that others were “wrong” and again, sheltered innocent and ignorant teenage Resa, who I guess believed the world revolved around her and everything else was obsolete…. Resa had been conditioned to nod, agree, and move along. I remember mentally judging others as teenage Resa thinking “They are wrong. I need to tell them they’re wrong.” And it wasn’t because I was trying to “win” or prove anything necessarily, rather I thought that the person just was not told. I think I was trying to keep them away from being in trouble too maybe. Needless to say, those few times I mentioned this verbally to whatever person, it did not go over well….
I can remember specifically a good friend of mine who I had known since we were toddlers, someone I loved and adored, he told me, “I want to stick your head in a vat of boiling grease.” WOW. Again, ignorant and self-absorbed, sheltered teenage Resa went into martyr mode and just didn’t understand how someone could be so mean to me when I am so nice to them. I didn’t understand. Clueless.
College taught me a lot. I was able to feel, act, think, speak, and be myself with no supervisory role there to give me consequence for what I did. I struggled throughout my entire college undergraduate years to figure out Who Am I? because everything I was told to be and think were still there, stamped into what I was told was my identity…. But for the first time I began to question for myself each of those stamps,… for a while I would feel tremendous guilt for even considering anything other than these “rights” because that’s what I was taught to feel,… if that makes any sense.
I was so bad about “people pleasing” and playing martyr that I wound up with a Bachelor’s degree in something I had no desire to pursue. I’d been told what to do as far as coursework and majors go, and so I switched my major twice, going from Art to English, and finally to Elementary Education. My mother had always wanted to be a teacher,…. And my father told me I’d never make it as an artist.
Younger version of Resa-ears heard “You’re not good enough.”
I realize now that isn’t at all what he meant.
But the point in sharing all that is HEY! I WAS THAT PERSON! HERE I AM!
That isn’t who I am today, but I’ll never deny where I came from and challenges I’ve faced in my life– I own my faults, I’ve done some stupid shit throughout my days,… and hell, guess what? I still do stupid shit. The difference is that I take each experience now and I find what I need to find to better myself.
This was not always so easy for me. I wore my feelings on my sleeve and worried constantly about what everyone else thought (duh, rewind to my roots and that makes more sense now). I also had it burned into my being that I was to show others only the good, positive, imperfect things… and I definitely wasn’t to talk about anything but good when it came to my family- this was the unspoken and understood super-mega-you-don’t-cross-this-line rule that each and every one of us silently understood.
So yeah, in retrospect I realize where some of this people-pleasing came from, and that would be that I was taught to worry about what others thought, always… and I was scolded if I showed anything other than the goodness, and I also was scolded if I did not practice good mannerisms and to always offer and volunteer to help.
When I was told I needed to either have a job by the time school started back or enroll in graduate school….and seeing as that week was the last week to enroll and the last week before school began back, I decided it wasn’t super realistic for me to find a job in 5 days time, so I decided graduate school here I come.
I for some reason assumed I had to pick a focus that was education, because that’s what my B.S. was in, however, my good friend Jeff, (Hilariously enough this friend is actually the same person who nearly a decade before had wanted to dip my head in a vat of boiling grease, HA!) informed me that “No, Resa, you can pick whatever major you choose, it doesn’t have to be related at all.”
I’d found the loophole (so I thought) and was so excited, I bounded to inform my parents I’d decided I wanted to go get my graduate degree in journalism.
I was redirected quickly and informed that if I wanted any help from them, I needed to choose a major that related to my undergraduate degree.
I share this story all of the time because it’s so funny looking back at all of this with who/where I am today as a person and a professional.
I decided to pick “Counseling” which related to my Elementary Education degree… And what I didn’t inform my parents, who agreed, yes, counseling is related….
Out of pure spite, resentment, and rebellion I chose “Community” track instead of “School-based” because that in my mind was a “Oh golly whoops” way of throwing up those birds high into the sky.
And so I started my Master’s program and track out of nothing but pure spite and anger….
I held good grades the first semester, learned some cool shit, which from my understanding the rest of my classmates already knew and understood better than I because ALL OF THEM had their Bachelor’s degree in guess what? PSYCHOLOGY.
Nope, I’d taken Psych101 as a PreReq and that was the gist of my knowledge.
So I actually had to do some major studying and learning what all of my peers had just gained over their past 4 years of schooling– it was challenging….
It wasn’t until I began my second semester taking “Practicum” where you’re watched through two way glass by a supervisor/professor and recorded so that later the videos were played and broken down– it was mortifying if they chose you to play on the big screen for the whole class… which happened at least once regardless,… and all classmates get to watch and dissect and pick apart what you shoulda/coulda/woulda ….
This course is when I shot to the top of my class with my grades…. There was no memorization or theories or terminology…. it was strictly actual practice of skill.
I realized that it was no accident that I wound up here,… spite or not, I ended up exactly in the profession I was born as and was practicing a lot of regularly already without even knowing. I never knew that empathy was something that not everyone can experience… but when I found this out it BLEW MY MIND…. I’d never considered that others couldn’t feel what I felt when I was nearby, whether I was sharing a story or sitting silently, it never occurred to me that everyone wasn’t able to feel what I felt.
There’s that ego-centric world-revolves-around-Resa mindset still peeping through on into my 20’s…. wow. Just when I think I’ve become open-minded I realize I am so close-minded that I don’t even acknowledge becoming more open minded an option because “I’M ALREADY WIDE OPEN” **brushes shoulders off**
Oh young Resa, you’re so full of shit…. It will take a few more years to realize this and accept and personalize these areas that can improve,… It’s so funny, because I thought I was “Miss Graduate Student Counseling Hot-Shot, I am more open-minded than this person or that person…. I have grown so much and I can’t believe I was closed off before– I’m on the path to enlightenment I think…. ahem,…. ” *she says in the most close-minded judgmental statement available without any doubt that these words ring true and she is by far the most open-minded she could ever be– poor close-minded fools….” >>>>Seriously, 20-something-version of Resa?<<<< Yep, I had no idea.
Anyway, I found my calling in practicing therapy, and was bragged on by professors, and the strongest classmate in “Confrontation” as a skill— which surprised most of everyone, seeing as they only know quiet reserved Resa…. I’d been using that skill my entire childhood up into adulthood too– Finally I was being modeled as a star-student for the same thing that all of my life was the biggest “WRONG”…. finally it was “RIGHT” and it was something good. It was always good…. I realize now….. it’s just that confrontation is a tool that often times brings up defensiveness and deflection….
So today I laugh when I tell you that I am a nationally certified counselor, I have my LPC, and I am the full-time ART therapist for the inpatient facility that I work at. How cool (and hilarious looking in retrospect) is that?!
So why am I sharing all of this? How does this all tie in together? Why did I begin writing about what I do professionally and tie it into my past?
I am in charge of running an all-campus lecture tomorrow for all clients and available staff too.
I will share with you that in the past 2 weeks I have been given so many opportunities to find growth and to challenge and better myself professionally, emotionally, and in relationships too with family. These 2 weeks have been the most uncomfortable, stressful, panicky, overwhelmingly chaotic days I have experienced in some time. Every area of my life (work, family, relationships in general, well-being) was challenged with an EXTREME PUSH in the direction of unfamiliarity, unpreparedness, time consuming, emotionally exhausting, UNCOMFORTABLENESS that has been my two weeks and still counting…. Talk about an opportunity to TRULY EXPERIENCE the “Powerlessness” aspect that I teach and preach on daily for those I work with,… MY GAD, it truly can be a terrifying and extremely uncomfortable thing— and it’s HARD to accept Powerlessness…. I wanted nothing more than to have control of at least one of the 4 areas of my life that were all EXPLODING at once… I decided to sit in that discomfort for a few moments, and I actually used my experience in a group I taught last week, and how I was having to accept and embrace being truly Powerless and that while it has been NOT something I want to surrender to, the reality is that I’m only hurting myself further by pretending that I can have control,… because I don’t… and I can’t. And so in front of my group in that moment I surrendered to being powerless and accepting this as what is and to leave all of my worries and obsession associated with that irrational belief that I can somehow tell the future and have control over everything…. I am powerless.
I will always be powerless over EVERYTHING aside from myself and my reactions.
I’ve always had this hidden fire inside me of a passion that I believe I have instilled within me to do motivational speaking…. I just haven’t found the topic or the how’s/where’s/why’s/what’s associated with this hidden suspected passion.
Two weeks ago I was informed that a handful of my favorite teammates were “let go” and before I could even get my mind around to grasping this being reality, I was asked if I would step in and do a presentation in one of said-co-worker’s places at a continuing education event — on a topic which just so happened to be a word I’d never heard of….. OH, and I had 2 days before the conference– one of those days is a full work day. Haha!
My Higher Power has one heck of a sense of humor when it comes to answered prayers or lessons for life….. I’ve prayed (not intentionally) for my cell phone to be stolen— which I didn’t realize until looking backwards on the situation that I’d just come out of, that I had obtained the very thing I had asked and prayed for through my phone being stolen.
Other “WAKE-UP!” You’re-not-in-control-stop-trying-to-be moments in life for me include me kicking off my tennis shoes to stand and copy a 450 page STAI and stating, “I guess I’m going to be a teacher and there’s nothing I can do about it,” which was immediately followed by me being struck by lightening (literally…. lightening from the sky…. yes I am serious,…. yes it hurts….. those answer two common questions I get about the lightening experience….)…. Oh, I didn’t end up a teacher, if you didn’t catch that. HA!
The other “WAKE UP RESA!” moment was surrounding my engagement, we had been together going on 4 years — and that ending without warning through a text-message, “I can’t do this anymore.” Wham Bam Boom…. my whole world as I thought I knew it…. *POOF* I’d sacrificed family, friends, and so on for this man,… and so the one person I had to listen and hold me all of a sudden didn’t exist. Talk about knocking the breath out of your entire being and not knowing where you are supposed to be, go, do…. (I’d just moved to a new unfamiliar town, started my first “big girl job,” moved into an apartment that I learned soon after I could not afford…) I had solely stayed in Mississippi because well, the man I was engaged to, which I assumed marriage came to follow next,…. he lived in Mississippi…. why would I leave the state and him? I am literally shaking my head looking in retrospect at that logic…. I was still so worried about other people that I sent myself spiraling down into what I like to refer to as my “Rock Bottom” years of my life… I have and never again will EVER put a man before my friends or my family… I am so lucky to still have them accepting me after the neglect and turmoil I put them through during those years. Nothing or Nobody will ever come before my family and no one will ever tell me who my friends can and cannot be when it involves my over decade(s) relationships with those who are much more than friends for me… they’re my family too. No relationship is valued or needed if they cannot accept my life and those in it as a part of who I am– take me or leave me… no in between. Sorry!!
So I presented at this conference,… best I could with what little time I had to research and prepare …. remember again, I didn’t now what the word of my topic meant at first. HAHA! So you can imagine the PANIC BUTTON that was pushed in my body when I realized I had like half-of-a-day really to figure everything out and to be ready. OH FUQ.
Someone I admire very much in the midst of my sheer panic said, “You always wanted to be a motivational speaker….. here’s your chance…”
I couldn’t help but just laugh and respond, “Yeah yeah I need to be specific with wishes and prayers…. I meant a motivational speaker for a topic I know about, or that I am passionate about– not one I have to get the dictionary out to define the word I’m supposed to have a whole presentation and fund of knowledge on….” Too funny!
In the midst of all this happening, my job was rolling out a new schedule which has me popped all around running all sorts of groups I’ve never done before, along with my art groups (which they’ve increased)…. oh, and somehow I’m supposed to carry a client on my caseload successfully as a regular therapist too…..
SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH!!!!
So the third thing I juggled was my mother was having Bilateral hip replacement surgery the same day the schedule rolled out, which was a few days post presentation for me. I was in Arkansas helping prep and move furniture to accommodate for her return home from the hospital the day before the new schedule rolled out, and all I could do was tell myself, “One thing at a time… one thing at a time…” And that saved me for that moment…. I took care of my parents and their needs and then loaded up everything to drive back to Mississippi and begin to work on preparing for the new schedule and confusion…. and BOY WHAT CONFUSION IT IS!!!
Again, opportunities galore I’m being offered…. and whether I’m meaning to be willing at this point or not, I’m taking each of these opportunities for growth as they’re being thrown at me at the speed of light,… not really having an opportunity to even question “powerlessness” or whether I might or might not have control— NOPE…. At this point I’m just trying to catch what’s being thrown so that it doesn’t fall to the ground and shatter… it’s just a lot from every direction…. I’m sorting it as I go. HA!
So this journal entry really was as a self-motivator for me, I guess…. I do my first all-campus lecture tomorrow and I am not prepared nor have I had opportunity or time to do so,…. so I’m thinking I’m going to trust my gut on this one— for the first time maybe in my life— or at least first time in a WHILE…. and just speak my truth and my experience, strength, and hope.
Making the hour mark is really my only concern,… otherwise I can definitely work with the topic tomorrow…. which is: Enhancing Self-Worth.
I have a feeling I just let out a lot of reflections on this topic just in this blog post,… and normally I don’t go back and reread my writings, but in this one circumstance, I think I might… and I’ll use this as said-preparation for my lecture tomorrow.
Work with what you’ve been given….
Take ownership for the one thing you are not powerless over: Yourself.
This includes the good and proud-to-show-off things, the uncomfortable uncertain aspects, and equally important is the struggles/defects/mistake-making pieces that are also YOU…. The only way to ever work-on or get through those things you don’t want to acknowledge is by laying them out on the table during your show-and-tell and understand that we are not our circumstances. It takes true courage, open-mindedness, pure desire to grow, and willingness to admitting to your truths of who you are… not what you show others,… not what you do or are good at (but these are very important too), but combined pieces of what exists in the beautiful human being that you are…
You’ll never be able to put together a puzzle and move on to the next task if you don’t have all of the pieces out.
And some people will continue to sit there showing off to the world that they are working on their puzzle….
and this may be where they find contentment and this may be all they desire or need. And as long as they play the part of the brave hero who has everything out there in the open and is working on their stuff knowingly to all….
This puzzle will have many pieces in tact, and will look good to any passerby as someone who has worked hard to place each piece thus far… And as they pass by puzzle pieces are pulled back out and placed again for “show” of the diligence and dedication to bettering oneself….
That puzzle is gorgeous but will never hold it’s true value and hold up to it’s true potential because there are pieces that “got lost” or whatever the reason may be today… The world will be deprived of being shown something that they’ve never known before– something like nothing else in the world…. rare, valuable, original…. and it isn’t able to be shown— spare me the excuses,… I don’t care about why not,…. that’s irrelevant.
I want to know WHEN, HOW, WHAT can we do to help you find those pieces and put them in place? I’m ready to hear that answer, but keep walking if you have another answer for the “Why not’s” and I’ll be around again when you’re ready.
Working on your shit is HARD. Remember nobody is perfect, and those who have you fooled into thinking otherwise are nothing but a show. We are all different and imperfect and this makes each of us beautifully unique and amazing. We each have something to offer everyone we meet that they have never known or experienced before. We are blessed with the ability to learn from those different than ourselves and therefore offer what we do not have, if we are willing to pick it up and cherish this person and what they know as their truths… Truths are truths for each individual and vary based on what works and is real for that individual. When you find and know your truth, you find a sense of serenity and acceptance that you never knew was within your being the entire time. You know you.
Be willing to admit to being every part of exactly who you are, as you are, where you are now. We can always grow and change and become better,… but not until we are first able to put our pride down, understand identifying and confronting defects adds determination, willingness, and open mindedness to those traits we say we want to strengthen— Each moment of being willing to sit in discomfort is another step closer to becoming that person you aspire to be.
I will place myself in front of the entire campus tomorrow, no matter how much I want to run or make a reason to “not be able” but that would be detrimental to both myself as well as the entire campus.
I will acknowledge my irrational beliefs and negative self-talk and realize that these beliefs are not true facts but rather feelings that surround an experience I’ve had in my past that molded me into believing I am unworthy.
Personally I know my irrational beliefs and where the majority stem from:
IRRATIONAL BELIEF ORIGIN
- I’m not good enough. — “You’ll never make it as an artist.”
- I can’t sing well. —“RESA SHUT UP! PLEASE STOP SINGING!
- My voice doesn’t matter. —“You’re the soldier I’m the sergeant, what I say goes, what you say doesn’t matter.”
- I’m ugly and fat. –“Are you still dieting? Cut your hair.”
- What I have isn’t good enough. –“Don’t even think about wearing those pants- it’d
be an embarrassment & disrespect to the rest of us.”
There are a few of my own demons and the origins of those irrational thoughts…. I still work to confront these thoughts and constantly remind myself that these self-defeating thoughts exist by my own invention after experiences from my past. I will work to challenge these self-defeating thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations.
I am valued. I am a talented vocalist. I have a lot to offer the world. I am beautiful. I can only do what I can do when I am able. What I have is good enough. The opinions others have of me are their own and none of my business. I am in charge of my own responses and can choose to feel/be/do what is best overall for the well-being of myself and others.
Challenge yourself to find those irrational beliefs… they’re believed as truths likely right now, but deep down you know they’re not truths, they’re past opinions and experiences that warped this lie into existence as real and valuable. Find it, call it out, challenge it, replace it with positive affirmations that are going to enhance your true being.
Until next time my friends, I leave you with love, compassion, encouragement, and belief in you. You are worthy.