The phrase “self-harming behavior” may call up images of troubled teenagers with cuts on their arms. But self-injury can occur for people of any age, in children, adolescents and adults, whether male or female. This is not at all a teenage fad!
Many people struggle to take a compliment. It doesn’t matter if the compliment comes from a loved one, a stranger, or a trusted source, like a therapist. The struggle goes much deeper than manners, modesty, or cultural norms.
I’m talking about the inability to accept what therapists call positive affect. The issue for some is about feeling, deep down, that you don’t deserve it, that you can’t believe it, that as a person you are not worthy, and that you can’t allow or take in the experience of feeling good about yourself, or even believing someone else feels good about you either.
Many who take up careers in clinical psychotherapy have a deep personal commitment – some might say calling – to help others on their journey toward better mental health. Some, like post traumatic stress expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk (whose father was a Nazi concentration camp survivor), found powerful motivation to improve mental illness treatment, after bearing witness to the deep impact of trauma on a loved one.
All my life I’ve been living in the fast lane
Can’t slow down, I’m a rolling freight train
One more time, gotta start all over
Can’t slow down I’m a lone red rover
Oh how did it come to this?
Lyrics from “Polaroid” by Imagine Dragons
From an early age many of us learn the importance of independence, hard work, and “measuring up” to expectations. We push ourselves to excel, do more, and be better than our peers. But few people end up living a life they enjoy by striving full-tilt all the time.
Can we work and live well without burning ourselves out?