Music was a very helpful tool. I also happened upon one other technique that was helpful to me. I looked in the mirror, mostly to determine how ugly the acne and bushy hair made me. But one day, I looked into my eyes and I felt something other than the heavy depression I was constantly experiencing. When I looked into my eyes, I connected with another part of myself, a part that did not follow the story that was being told by the bushy hair, acne, and barrage of negative words being thrown my way. When I looked into my eyes, I knew there was a part of me that was good. Even if it was buried deep underneath the surface. I knew it was there. And this saved me.
As I work with people now, I run into this all the time. Young and not so young identifying with the thoughts they have about themselves. And these thoughts have been taught to us, conditioned within us by others who are looking at us and telling a false story about us. This happens because of the pain that other person is holding within, but that is another story. We hear these things and we start to inflate the story. We pile more onto it and we spiral downward.
Two things to know - our feelings are very loyal, they will follow where ever our thoughts lead them. So if you are telling a negative story about yourself you will experience negative feelings. If you are telling a positive story about yourself you will experience positive feelings. Also, we humans with our big brains experience about 60,000 thoughts per day, 80% of which are not true. We have erroneous thoughts all the time, so we have to be careful, just because a thought pops into our heads, does not make it true.
So, back to 13 year old me looking in the mirror. I had a constant story running inside of me that said, "you are ugly, worthless, stupid, you were supposed to be a boy, you couldn’t even get that right," and on and on…. Imagine how this would make a person feel. Oy! Not a fun bunch of years! But as I looked into my eyes, I started to slowly chip away at this erroneous story. I started to identify with another part of myself. A part that had nothing to do with my appearance, my gender, my intelligence or my abilities in any way. I began to know and feel, even though I could not have said it this way at the time, that I was not only made up of the negative thoughts and feelings I was identifying with, they were a part of me, but they were not me. I began to know that I was so much more. And I slowly shifted my identification with all the negative stories coming at me from others and from within myself. This was a process. It took time, especially because I was doing it alone.
I have clients who insist they were born bad, that there is just something inherently wrong with them. They hold fiercely to the belief that for them, life is just different, and not in a good way. And when I speak to them and say, this is a conditioned belief, this is not the truth of who you are, they never believe me - at first. It takes time. You may not find the whole of you by looking into your eyes as I did. But perhaps you can try an experiment. Allow yourself to imagine that there might be more to you than what you currently think and feel. Allow yourself to imagine that what you believe to be you is just a part of you. A painful part, but only a part. Even if you have no evidence to the contrary, allow yourself to imagine that your pain and the events causing this pain are simply part of a greater whole. And within that greater whole, you too are good, loving and lovable. Even if you don’t believe it, try it as an experiment. And try reaching out to someone you trust and revealing your pain. It may take time, but the pain you are experiencing is not you, and you do not have to stay in your pain forever.