In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, I've been reading a ton of posts on social media, mostly by women in tv, about their experiences of sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Up til this point, this behaviour seems to have been met with a kind of collective resignation, but the #metoo hashtag currently gathering force, is giving a lot of people permission to express what feels like long suppressed anger.
In a wider context, it got me thinking about how corrosive it can be to our wellbeing when we are not able to be true to ourselves.
So, in the workplace, when we try to laugh off offensive or undermining comments, even though we feel angered by them, we are left with this mismatch of our internal understanding of ourselves as competent and assertive men and women deserving of respect, and our outer experience of being diminished or dismissed by the response of another. This mismatch in how we see ourselves or how we would like to be seen versus who we actually end up being, is what brings a lot of people to therapy.
In therapeutic terms it's known as Incongruence - that sense that how we are in the world - how we act and react - doesn't reflect what we know and feel about ourselves on the inside.
It can take many forms. At work, we may feel that we have something to contribute to the company and yet we struggle to be seen, or we may totally lose our sense of self in the face of bullying. In personal relationships, we know what it is that we need to feel loved and supported by our partners, but the words go unsaid.
This tension between our outer and inner experience places all sorts of stresses on us. Rather than trying to align these two worlds, we often end up swallowing difficult feelings and adapting to a life that isn't actually giving us what we need. That is where good therapy can work wonders, because it’s the space where people come to explore what stops them getting their needs met, and how they might begin to chart a path in life that is truer to themselves.
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