Friday, October 23, 2020

Helping our patients to be aware and detach from their “not good enough” story

In counseling, one of the most common “unhelpful” or “limiting beliefs” we encounter, is that “I am not good enough” belief or story. 

Of course that belief is useful in some context where it can motivate us to learn, grow, and keep us humble, but when excessive and generalized, it can create lot of emotional and relational issues. 

Recognizing that belief, detaching and defusing from that belief, and learning to see our life through a different set of lens/filters, can be literally life changing. 

So how can we help our patients?

There’s probably many paths to get there but ultimately, we would help our patients to work towards “self as context” rather than “self as content” as defined by Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). 

If our life story was made into a movie, then “self as content” would be identifying self through the eyes of the main actor/actress, rather than through the eyes of the movie director/script writer.  So “self as context” is identifying self as the director/script writer. Naturally, through the eyes of the director and script writer, it will be easier to create a life story that we want. 

How do we get there?

It will take time and patience. We can work on self understanding, clarity around our values and the life we want to create, emotional literacy, self awareness, mindfulness, being present, defusion, acceptance, self compassion, and more observation of our thoughts, beliefs and “filters”. CBT and ACT strategies will cover most of these. 

Many folks we work with, still see their self worth predominantly through the lens/filters of their achievements, looks, their approval of others, and their helpfulness to others for example. These are of course great for motivation, including “doing good” for society, but if excessive or not balanced, it can lead to vulnerabilities, and a lot of emotional and relational problems.  In counseling, we explore other lenses/filters around self worth too, including authenticity, being who we are, and growth. 

It’s sounds relatively simple, but it’s definitely not easy to “get there”. 

As above, it will require time and patience. The Family Doctor, through a “lifetime” with our patients, is in the most ideal position to see this through perhaps.

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