What I realized in my counseling is that one experience is more common than commonly thought: feeling "abnormal." The vast majority of "normal" people have experienced this worry in one way or another.
Many people's impression may not be very deep, because we have learned to hide very early, which can be traced back to childhood, when parents say "children like kindergarten, how can you not like", or the teacher said "everyone clap together, let ×× brave a little don't cry" time. That's when we learn to categorize, to divide our experiences into two parts: normal, good, and in line with the expectations of those around us; The other part is critical, pessimistic, unsatisfied, shameful and abnormal. But those feelings are real, so we can't help but wonder: Am I an "abnormal" person?
The only thing we can do is not look at the emotions, confusions and conflicts that are different from other people's. But they don't really go away.
For years to come, there will still be moments when we question the meaning of life, when we feel ashamed of our desires, when we worry that our pretence will be discovered... And the things we should do and the things we should be passionate about, we wonder in the back of our minds if we are just trying to keep up for moral reasons.
Sooner or later, people will decide to make a change. So in counseling, many clients experience a critical moment when they need to muster up the courage to confess to someone: "It's time to tell you the truth."
The truth is: "I can only be myself. I'm not what you think I am." To say this sentence makes people feel guilty, also let a person secretly relieved. Sometimes it's a spouse telling each other what they want to do with their life. Sometimes it's finding a job that they love. Or when you quit your job, you can honestly tell your boss, "Everything is fine here, but it's not for me."
Take work, for example. I had a visitor who took years to believe that "I want to move, it's not my problem." Because of the work pressure, she was physically and mentally overloaded and had to leave her job almost every year. Every time the boss says, I know you are tired, which of us is not tired? The boss also says, 'Winners never quit.' She was at a loss for words.
She described her boss as a disciplined and mentally strong woman. She looks up to her boss as a role model in life. But deep inside, she always had a question she couldn't say or face: What if I wasn't like her?
From an outsider's perspective, you might think this is not a problem: different is different. Others are others, you are you. But that is of little comfort to those involved. In her experience, I wasn't just different from the boss, I was different from "the best." I was just not normal. She had always believed that a life worth living was the one most people agreed upon. The proof is that she's been living that way, going to a great college, going to a great company, doing great work.
Admit that you are a different kind of person, life can also justifiably go on? She couldn't imagine. The best way to deal with fear is to ignore it and force yourself to try a little harder. That's what she's been doing. The only problem is, she's feeling more and more out of her depth.
See a clinician, and this feeling of inadequacy may be interpreted as psychosomatic subhealth, or a diagnosis of a mood disorder. But I also have a view that I think can be seen as a kind of courage to face the truth: "This is a part of me, and even if you say no, this is who I am."
Once you acknowledge your emotions, you will see more of the truth about yourself. The truth is not subject to our will. Not happy, it is difficult to ask yourself to be happy. You can see a doctor, take medicine, recuperate, travel, change your job, change your lifestyle... But whatever you do, the point is to acknowledge that this is who I am.
I asked her: What do you want? She said she wanted to change to an easier job, but she knew it was wrong. "You can be easy or you can be tired," I said. "If it's just a choice, it's no better. It's about what you want."
She paused for a moment and said she had never thought of it that way. "I always thought, 'What do you want? That's a question to ask someone. Do I get to do whatever I want? Can I rest when I want? I want to go to heaven!" It had never occurred to her that this was a real problem.
This is certainly a real problem. People have feelings, attitudes, subjective preferences and physical and mental boundaries. As I said at the beginning, I guess many of us have had self-doubt, where we follow a certain trajectory until we suddenly realize that we are not who we really are. We begin to face our true desires, and the voice in our head says, "I can do whatever I want." So severe. We had no discernible power, and could only look around in horror: fortunately no one had noticed. So he pretended that nothing had happened, and hid his fears even worse.
In my counseling with these people, I try to make them understand that others don't care about you that much. Be considerate of others' feelings, but it does not mean that you should define what you can or cannot do by others. "People are looking at me" is just an illusion.
The best way to break this imagination is to face it. 'I'm so sad, I just want to cry! What can anyone do to you? The worst consequences are always in the mind. My client offered to resign again. Confronted with her boss's argument, she said, "I know. I'm not trying to run away, but I realize I don't want this kind of success so much anymore. The boss froze and said, "Oh."
She has since returned to her hometown and used her skills developed in the Internet industry to help her family run an orchard. She wrote an email to me, saying that she was much happier now, not tired at work, and able to take care of her parents.
The hardest step before she gets that life is to admit: this is who I am, what I want and what I don't want, and there is no shame. She had prepared herself for the boss's wrath to fall flat, but nothing happened. "It's been tough for you these past few years, but the good news is that you've found the life you want." She couldn't believe it: So that was all it took?
I am me and I can only be me. It's a statement that needs no proof, but one that takes years to face: Who I am, contrary to expectations, is my problem to solve, not my problem. Can I find a more comfortable place in the world? Can take this question, go more, try more. However, acknowledging "who I am" is the first step.