I have to talk about my experience this week. I've spent a million years in therapy, and I'm constantly working on myself. I'm at the top of the list of the most analyzed and self-aware women living in Manhattan.
With the help of my craft, I've changed in so many ways, but one of the issues I've had to work on the most has been my self-consciousness.
I never appeared as shy or self-conscious among my peers, but it was there -- and I suffered. It came out in certain ways. For example, I made it all the way through to my doctorate program (four years of college and two years of graduate school attaining a double master's) before ever speaking in a class. That's right -- I never once raised my hand, gave an opinion, or asked a question until I was forced to in my Ph.D. program. In college, I used to take my best guy friend to my professor's office to talk for me when I had a problem.
It also came out in other ways -- like my inability to see myself in pictures, or especially on video. Shari (one of my best friends) was one of the first in our group to get married. Of course, I was a bridesmaid. When we were at a gathering in her apartment and her husband, Michael, turned on their wedding video, I freaked out and begged her to turn it off. Talk about self-consciousness -- and, dare I say, narcissism. I mean, I was not the main event here -- but the pain and self-consciousness were unbearable.
So that fact that I went on to teach graduate school, became one of the most sought-after professors, and now appear on TV is a downright miracle (or proof that therapy works and change can happen)! So one would think I'm good to go now, but unfortunately, that's not the case.
This week, I went to a three-day intensive conference. I'm looking for new ways to experiment with my Dr. Debbie site online. I am someone who never thinks about how to make money, who strategizes, or quite frankly, who has an agenda. I've always just gone with what felt right, where my passion was, and with the joy of it all. The fact that I built a successful private practice and make any money at all is -- again -- a miracle. So I decided I should try to learn how to brand, market, and monetize what I'm trying to do here.
The conference was great, and I learned a lot. But the most palatable learning experience was that after all these years and how far I've come, my old friend self-consciousness was as present as she has ever been! I found it hard to really talk about myself or what I was doing, or put any new information out there for people to hear and provide feedback on, which was the whole point of the conference. Thank goodness my friend David was with me. He would start the conversations for me!
My lesson yet again, and what I share every day with my clients, is this: Therapy does not completely eradicate your issues. It lowers their volume and weakens their power. So if and when they do show up, we can recognize them, and put them back in their spot. We have more power than they do! And I do this on a pretty frequent basis. I've battled this old stuff after every TV appearance I've ever made. And quite honestly, you should've seen the work I had to do when I was putting my videos on my new website! But I win, each and every time. I am always successful putting this old stuff back where it belongs: in the past.
This week at the conference, I was not successful in the moment. It was too intense, fast-paced, and over-stimulating. I just didn't have a chance to work my own magic on myself. It's taken me a few days to recover, but recover I did.
- So here is what you have to do when the old stuff comes back to haunt you:
- Sit with it -- and do not distract.
- Remember what it is and why it is -- and let yourself feel it. Cry. Release.
- Remind yourself that these feelings are old, stemming from when you were very young.
- Spend some time meditating. It gives you clarity, and gets you grounded again in who you are today.
- And then, nurture the heck out of yourself.
I ate some of my favorite food, spent time with some of my favorite people, got a massage, exercised, and remembered that I am good enough and that all is well in my world!
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