On Struggling: Why it's not your fault.
And how you can gain the power to do something about it.
(Part 1 of the Heal with ACT series).
You're here now presumably because there is room in your life to make it better than it is right now.
Life is hard and full of challenges. Inevitably, we all get stuck sometimes.
We get lost in a life event or problem we can't seem to get out of. Sometimes, it even causes us an overwhelming sense of hurt and pain.
You are not alone in this.
I wrote this series on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT in short (pronounced as the word), for people like you and I who have been struggling. I too struggled with Depression, Anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder.
Without speaking to you in person, I don't know what kind of struggles you are going through. But I'm sure it's been tough.
What you are experiencing might or might not be in the list, but maybe you are:
Going through Depression and hopelessness.
Overwhelmed by uncontrollable panic and anxiety.
Having difficulties in your relationships.
Dealing with grief or loss of a loved one.
Trying to move on from a difficult childhood or traumatic event.
Turning to alcohol or gambling.
Having an ongoing sense of meaningless and emptiness.
Most of us will consider any of the above as a problem that needs to be solved.
Since these problems have brought about unpleasant thoughts and feelings, we want to deal with these problems as quickly as we can, so we can get back into living our lives and be happy with our loved ones.
Without a doubt, if you are facing a similar problems like the above, it has already stolen away precious moments of your life where you could be much, much happier.
You're here because you're "stuck".
I know what that feels like - you probably tried everything you could to make things better, but the changes don't seem to last very long, if any at all. Things seem to fall back into the same cycle again.
Well, I'm glad you're here on this journey with me.
Before we move on any further though, there is one very important thing you should know.
Whatever it is you are struggling with, whatever the story of your life has been, however much you think you've gotten to a place where you feel utterly stuck - I really want you to know that it's not your fault.
Very frankly, it really isn't your fault. It never was.
Why? Because it is in my nature as a Psychotherapist to see the best in you. And without a doubt, I'm absolutely certain you've been giving it your best already. I mean, that's another reason why you're here now right?
So really, believe me when I say this - it is not your fault. You will see further evidence of this in your journey here, because it is in this journey that I hope to help you to uncover the true nature behind your experiences.
What we will probably learn is that your struggles actually stem from a younger version of you that has been hurt in the past.
That younger version of you experienced a great difficulty in life. It had to do something to fix things, to keep you safe, perhaps even keep you loved.
This younger version of you might be that of a distant past; it might also be you just a few months ago - dealing with a insurmountable life transition.
It is at these various difficult points in your past that you also had to pick up coping strategies to deal with these events - whether they are troubled past relationships or even traumatic events from your childhood.
However, over time, these same coping strategies no longer work for you anymore. In fact, what you'll learn in two short chapters is that these coping strategies your younger self had to learn to use are actually the very cause of your struggles.
As a simple example, let me illustrate this with a person who grew up in a strict and disciplined household. To gain the love and attention from his or her parents, this person went through their childhood striving to live up to the expectations of their parents, whether in school or at play.
Despite trying and trying, this person was always told that they could still do better. So he or she tries even more, hoping that one day they will gain the full approval of their parents (whatever full approval means), all the while inside, this idea that they are "not enough yet" begins to form.
Over time, ideas turn into beliefs. They become internalised and this person starts to take this as the truth of him or herself - and if we could fast forward in time - what you might see is this person, now an adult, but riddled with perfectionistic tendencies, a severe fear of failure, and a core belief that they are not enough.
Coping-wise, he or she believes that working themselves to the point of breakdown is the only way forward. They might try their best to numb the feelings of inadequacy inside, perhaps through even more hard work and sometimes having a few drinks on the weeknights.
So - two things at play here - a younger you who had to struggle to overcome some difficult event, and who picked up unhealthy or what we call maladaptive coping strategies that have come to play in the present.
And as you will see shortly, these patterns or cycles perpetuated by your beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and corresponding behaviours, all take you away from a life that is happy and meaningful.
It left you feeling "stuck".
I don't know what your story is, but let's uncover it together.
So I mean it when I say this, again, it's not your fault.
The reason why I say this is you never got to choose the childhood given to you. You never got to choose the traumatic events that happened to you. You never got to choose the times when your basic needs of love, safety, and even belonging, were threatened.
And from those times, you had to figure out on your own what to do. No one ever taught you how to really deal with these difficult experiences you've been going through.
In fact, if anything, it was probably the case you've been taught all the wrong ways in how to handle your difficult experiences, e.g. hiding or numbing your feelings, trying to get rid of certain thoughts, keeping to yourself.
Trust me, it was exactly the same for me too.
However, knowing that it's not your fault is an important first step for you in your recovery.
It gives you the power to do something about it.
It helps you take the first step into reclaiming the life that is rightfully yours.
So ready to start your journey?