So often, there are messages all around us that we take in unconsciously. These are messages about gender roles, what life “should” be like, perhaps what people “should” be like, and even more insidious messages about people who are either different from us or who live their lives differently than we do.
The idea of understanding our unconscious biases and “programming” seems to be a hot topic and popular idea lately particularly with the rise in awareness about the divisions in our country and resulting reckoning many of us are having about race and privilege.
Interestingly for me as a psychologist, helping people work on their programming is something I have done for a long time. We learn in undergraduate psychology classes that we are influenced easily by the world around us. I remember this being discussed a lot around topics like violence in the media as well as body image.
However, in my day to day work with clients, the topic of messages and narratives we have taken in from the world, our parents, our communities, the media, etc. comes up all the time. The truth is, on a personal level, we all have some unconscious ideas of what we should or should not be doing or what we should or should not be like. The programming around being “good” or “bad” is something that I have talked about for years as I find it to be so problematic for kids and teens to feel shame around their mistakes or challenges (which is often what “bad” behavior is).
If you are someone who is interested in doing deep work about your unconscious bias or programming you might have taken in about others or yourself, good news, therapists are here for you and can definitely help. If you want to try to do this work on your own, here are some suggestions to help you get started.
For example, my parents were not always great at managing my willful spirit as a kid. I mean, the book “raising a difficult child” was often on my mom’s nightstand and we had numerous power struggles a day. So, here I am years and many hours of therapy later plus experience working with parents and kids in therapy… you might think I would have this figured out and know just exactly how to approach my son, who is also quite willful. And here it is… I don’t. I think sometimes I do a great job at understanding him and sometimes, it is harder than I like to admit. I realized when he was a baby that I had this unrealistic expectation of myself that because I am who I am (therapist, fellow sensitive human, parent “expert”), I would never screw up particularly around managing his behaviors and emotions, or even just my reactions. And the truth is, nope. I screw up too. The important thing is that I know this is okay and have recognized that the shame I feel is just because I have programming around both being willful and sensitive as a child, but also around who I should be as a mom.
All of these concepts are a lot to put in one blog but I wanted to try! I think it is so important that people not familiar with therapy can understand a lot of what those of us practicing deep work with our clients are working on week after week. Building self-awareness is honestly really intense and challenging work but so rewarding. I have seen so much growth and change not just in my clients, but in myself by challenging myself to become as integrated of a person as possible. If you would like help doing the same, please feel free to call us at Thrive!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy via video sessions, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."