While logic plays a key in motivation and drive for success, processing our hopelessness or helplessness when we feel like we’re failing is the key to emotional comfort.
(In the following post, I want to speak to issues that revolve around self-confidence and success in ourselves and our relationships. There will be times when clients might need additional resources, whether other professionals or medication, to address concerns related to high functioning or severe cases of mental illness—keep this in mind)
In today’s society, there is a substantial focus on maintaining strong individuality in the wake of success, whether personal or professional. Western society has cultivated a message that we must maintain our self-confidence through success and financial stability. Unfortunately, we don’t work with people every day who experience the privileges that come from financial stability and personal confidence. Like seen in many families, western culture incorporates a web of shame or guilt when someone doesn’t meet their intended goals. Instead of relying on connecting with others for emotional support when we fail, we “beat ourselves up” or become our “own worst enemies.”
Many times, the pattern lingers in each of these systems, and we start to believe, “well, something is wrong with me.” Clients might walk into therapy for the first time wondering, “what’s my diagnosis?”
If it’s a question you’ve considered, you might’ve looked online, searching for symptoms that match what is going on in your life right now. While we can easily provide a list of symptoms for PTSD, depression or anxiety disorders, what we might be missing out on is the relevance of processing our emotions.
For ex. A client expresses that they don’t feel hope for their future. They are stuck in a dead-end job, and they are constantly striving to provide with little success.
As a counselor, I could look at the problem logically, understanding that this person needs to provide for themselves and/or their family, but with the money they’re currently making in their job, there is little possibility to meet their needs. On the other hand, the reality of things like depression, anxiety or trauma, are that individuals might struggle to process these emotions with other people in their lives, including a counselor.
At times, finding the solution for the problem will seem like the ultimate key to success.
Unfortunately, it may also perpetuate a cycle that can lead to shame or guilt. If we’re constantly taught to maintain our emotional distance, trying to understand how we can fix what’s going on—no one is checking in emotionally, addressing the vulnerability—we learn to disregard the very underbelly of healthy, secure bonds with other people.
If you step into our office, and you validly vent about the problem, asking, “What’s my diagnosis?”, you could also be steering away from the source of your struggle. While logic plays a key in motivation and drive for success, processing our hopelessness or helplessness when we feel like we’re failing is the key to emotional comfort. If we can turn to someone else when we’re not succeeding, and look outside of the label or solution, we may find the comfort we need to continue forward. Are we striving too much on trying to pressure ourselves to feel confident in what we want to do?
With couples, when they’re choosing to be together, if one person makes a misstep in showing up for their partner, they could easily feel guilt about messing up. If the same partner learns to manage emotion on their own, only looking at how to distract themselves from the source of pain or looking at it logically, they will create more of a wedge in their relationship(s). If we can share our failures, whether that cultivates a feeling of loneliness, sadness, fear, hurt or anxiety, we will learn how to let others into our lives, turning away from unhealthy systems and ways of connecting with those we love.
If you’re seeking support, or you’re identifying with these concerns here, we want to help you unlock the key, not just to professional success, but personal as well. We believe in cultivating closer connection for individuals, couples or families. For more information about our services, check out the rest of our website here—or you can schedule an appointment here. Thanks.