Did you do it?
Last week I encouraged you to take a step toward improving your emotional and mental health by seeking out a class, a workshop, a support group, etc… Did you google some local options? This is your friendly reminder to do that, in case it fell off your to-do list this week.
On the heels of that not-at-all-subtle push, I thought I’d share a something I learned once in therapy. Maybe it will give you the umph you need to try something new this season.
One time when I was working with a counsellor, she had me share a few situations from my childhood with her. She was interested in hearing about times where I felt helpless and overpowered by an adult. I didn’t have any trouble coming up with examples.
When you are a kid, you have little control over your life. You just don’t. Adults choose where you live, what school you go to, what you eat, what you wear, etc… In healthy adult-child relationships, the adult will take that responsibility seriously, and make kind, considerate decisions. They will also relinquish as much decision-making control as they can, in age-appropriate increments, so the child can learn to be independent, and be ready to make all of their own decisions by adulthood. Unfortunately, none of us have perfectly healthy relationships with every adult throughout our childhoods. Whether it was an overbearing parent, an authoritarian grandparent, or an insecure teacher or coach with some out-to-lunch views on “respect,” no child makes it to adulthood without a grown-up steamrolling over them and hurting them at one point or another. When you are a kid, adults have all the power.
Once I told my counsellor my examples, she had me retell the stories, only this time, imagining what it would have been like if I’d had special “grown-up powers.” If I were also an adult when these things happened, what would I have said? What boundaries would I have put in place? What unhealthy situations would I have pushed back against? When would I have called foul? It was helpful to confront injustices of the past, but that was not the point of the exercise.
The real point? I have grown-up powers now.
I was so used to not having any control, that I never thought to use my fancy grown-up powers. I met every person and circumstance in my life with a grin-and-bear-it submission, allowing anybody and everybody more say in my own life than I did. Not healthy.
Realizing that I had grown-up powers, and actually using them, was the biggest leap forward I ever took in my emotional and mental health. I share this story in hopes that it will inspire you to step forward too.
You, my friend, have grown-up powers. Use them.
Stand up to that verbally abusive coworker, or report them. Break up with that person who makes you feel stupid or unlovable in their presence. Stop volunteering for that committee that drains you and stresses you out, even if it is a really good cause. Decline that invitation to an event that you know is just going to bring you down. Reschedule that appointment or coffee date when you are not feeling well enough emotionally or mentally to go. Find an assertiveness class to attend. Take up that hobby you’ve always dreamed of. Practice saying “no” in the mirror until it no longer sounds like a bad word… Whatever it is in your life right now, you have grown-up powers to change it.
What is one situation in your life right now you wish you could change? If you ever find yourself wishing that someone would just show up and fix something, here is your chance to be that someone. You have grown-up powers. You can be your own hero.
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