I have a confession to make: more often than not, I tend to see myself as “lacking.” I’ve been through so much trauma – mental, emotional, and physical, that my view of myself has always been about the broken pieces and the ones that got lost, stolen, and damaged by my life experiences. It’s ingrained in my brain’s pathways and my thought patterns will likely always default to this. That’s how trauma works.
So, the idea of retraining my brain, in this respect really isn’t about erasing the “bad programming” and replacing it with a new OS. It’s more about creating patches and continually updating to correct the glitches. The original programming is still present. It’s just underneath and behind the new programming. It’s kind of like learning languages. You will almost always think in your original language and have to translate it in your head before you speak, even if you get so fluent no one else can tell that’s what you did.
What does all of that mean as I’m on this journey to become financially independent and self-sufficient? Well, it means I’m fighting a few things:
- Scarcity mindset: the idea that you have to grab what’s in front of you, and as much as you can, instead of waiting for the better thing that’s coming, because you’ve lived a life where what’s in front of you can disappear before you grasp it and seldom does the something better come along. Here’s an article that you may find interesting
- Impostor Syndrome: The idea that you don’t actually belong in whatever positive circumstance or position that you are in and that if the friends and colleagues really knew you, they’d know you’re a fraud. Here’s more about that.
- A false sense of inadequacy: This may be part of Impostor Syndrome, but, for me, it feels different. I feel like no matter how much intelligence I have, how many skills I’ve developed, emotional maturity I’ve achieved, etc. I’m still “not enough” to get and keep the job I want. Also, since I don’t have the educational credentials I’m not on the same level as the people around me. Apparently, it’s a carryover from childhood. Or so this article seems to indicate
- Illness Identity: There’s an underlying belief I struggle with. It’s that my mental illnesses will prevent me from being able to sustain and maintain employment. There’s this idea that being mentally ill means I can’t or won’t be adequate to the expectations and requirements of a job and employer. More about that can be found here.
The TRUTH about all of these things is that grabbing the first thing that I can do for an income that’s easy and in front of me, has the strong potential of preventing me from actually attaining the better position I’m qualified for and want to have.
Whether it’s life experience, education, or training, I have the knowledge and skills I need in order to be successful in the job and career I want. Ultimately, that’s what matters to the employer and, hopefully, to the people I’ll work alongside of.
It’s also a fact that my mental illness and the process of recovery I have been in and continue to go through, has equipped me to do the work I want to do and that my identity of a person with mental illness doesn’t have to be the illness itself or the faults and failures that I’ve experienced as a result of having mental illness.
How do I patch the glitches with the truth?
This is where the Dialectical Behavior Therapy tools I’ve been learning come into play.
Opposite action and acting as if none of the things I’m fighting against are true (which they aren’t) are two of the main things that will enable me to achieve my goals. What do I mean?
Yesterday, I felt exhausted. I was slightly overwhelmed and feeling a bit burned out by all the job readiness activities I’ve been doing. I had signed up for the Job Search Workshop at Worksource. That workshop is offered again in a couple of weeks and, since I realized that I’m not fully ready to actually start working, yet, it’s a bit premature to go into active job search mode. I almost bailed on the workshop and stayed in bed.
Mind you, due to the fibromyalgia and the level of fatigue I was feeling, that could have been a viable option. Also, the level of anxiety and stress I’ve been experiencing as I’ve been doing these activities have the possibility of triggering the dissociation and the depression. So, staying in bed was a potentially viable option.
However, because of the skills I’ve learned and the degree of self-awareness I’ve developed, I recognized that going back to bed and avoiding the workshop were actually maladaptive coping actions. So, moaning and groaning, I dragged myself out of bed. I went to the workshop. It turned out differently than I expected and I was able to research the job I want some more and start teaching myself to use MS One Note.
- Opposite Action: I got out of bed and went to the workshop anyway.
- Acting “as if”: Despite feeling too tired, too burned out, and not ready enough, I acted as if I had the energy, the capacity, and readiness to actually look for a job. I
Outcome: I learned something new and obtained additional information about my job goal. I got a sense of pride and accomplishment from following through and getting another thing done in the process.
My internal perspective may be that something is missing inside of me, but, I KNOW I’m almost complete.