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  • Writer's pictureBryan Owens

Why the Therapy Room is a Rare Space Where Your Authentic Self Can Emerge

I want you to think about the way you grew up.

As we navigate our various spaces between home, school, and in social settings with peers, we learn how to shape the self according to what is going to gain approval and belonging from others.

Before we had defenses, critical thinking, insight, and identity, we learned how to meet the expectations of the relationships that molded us, showing the particular qualities that we knew would please our caregivers or impress our teachers and peers.

Consequently, this urged us to bury the parts of ourselves we were unsure about, or that we knew would make others judge or disapprove of us. These became the parts of yourself that you are not proud of.

These are your shadows, and now that you are an adult, they have come to haunt and sabotage your relationships.

For example, if you were taught early in life that anger is not an appropriate emotion, you likely learned how to bury anger and communicate to others that you are simply not an angry person, but that you are easy-going and nothing bothers you. But secretly, your rage boils underneath because you never developed a healthy relationship to your anger and aggression. When this happens, it makes you feel as though you don’t truly know yourself, or you have betrayed yourself by becoming angry. Often there is shame contained in this type of secret identity.

I want you to think about all the ways you were forced to fracture yourself to be embraced in the various settings where you grew up. You learned that only part of yourself was accepted at home, and that another part of you was expected at school, and yet another part of you had to perform in social settings, or at church, etc.

Because our society is designed this way, we end up becoming fragmented, and many of us have learned to be inauthentic in order to fit into diverse environments. Even if we gain approval from family, peers, and colleagues, the feeling of being phony or inauthentic is a horrible way to go through life.

For many individuals I have worked with, my therapy office has become the solitary space where one’s entire self, even the shadowy parts, are welcome and serve a vital role to discovering the authentic self. The healing bond that is formed between a therapist and patient becomes a great source of transformative potential. From the therapy room, you will gain insight into all your parts, how all of your parts fit together into a cohering sense of wholeness, and you will have the chance to show your authentic self with no judgment or shame. Over time, you will become so compelled by being authentic that you will find the way to help your authentic self emerge in all the spaces of your life.

You will still have the skill to navigate diverse spaces, like family holiday gatherings, workspaces, social events, etc., but you will be able to do so without being fragmented and phony. This can transform your life and leave you feeling like you are truly the person you are meant to be.

This is why I practice psychodynamic narrative therapy with a focus on treating trauma, so we can transform the self, which will transform all of your relationships.

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