Dear Candy Q & A: How You See Yourself Matters
Aug 8, 2022
Hello everyone! A couple of things before we get to today's blog: 1) after this week I will be posting every second week instead of weekly. Please feel free to still send in questions, as I am happy to answer them. 2) There was a pretty good article posted this week through the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (the organization to which I currently belong) about one counsellor's experience of learning to let go. I have attached the link here. It is not long, but insightful and worth the read if you find you are holding onto the past.
So, today's blog is about recognizing how we see ourselves and the impact it has on our recovery journey. In the field of Positive Psychology, there is a well known psychologist (Daryl Bem) that has put forth a theory about self-perception. Prior to this, it was already well understood in psychology that we form beliefs about others by witnessing their behaviours. For example, we see someone hold the door open for a person that has their hands full and we naturally assume the person holding the door is kind or considerate. When we witness someone set a goal for themselves and work every day to achieve it, we characterize them as disciplined or dedicated. And so on. What Dr. Bem suggests is the same goes for ourselves. When we witness ourself do something or accomplish something, we also form beliefs about ourselves, including beliefs about our characteristics and our capacities. This is why it is so important when we are in the process of recovery to start behaving or acting like a healthy person would, starting in very small ways and expanding over time. Through our behaviour we are signalling to our brain that we are different from the current or old beliefs that may be in place. In order to accomplish this, we take our overall goal and break it down into small, do-able chunks, setting ourselves up for success. Every small step that we accomplish to engage differently and feel differently contributes to a newer version of our self-perception and aids us in coming closer to who we want to be and how we want to be in the world. As we have small successes we begin the re-evaluate our self perception, and we start to feel more confident in our capacity to change. We see ourselves as capable and able to make the changes we want. Some of the changes we may choose to make might not seem directly related to recovery, but are related to how we want to be in the world and the qualities we want to embody. For example, we may engage in small random acts of kindness towards others, and from this we may learn that we can positively contribute to the lives of others even when we aren't at our best. Perhaps we really start to see ourselves as a kind, considerate, generous, or helpful person. This in turn brings in more confidence, more elevated emotions (as it feels good to help others and brighten their day), feelings of contributing to the world and doing our part to make it a better place, all of which creates a soothing and healing neurochemistry in our brains that aid us in improving our wellbeing.
The momentum and the focus in this example is shifted toward small positive changes (instead of our limitations or feeling stuck). We use our retraining tools to assist us in accomplishing this when needed, and we direct our energy and attention toward positive and constructive change. This serves us well in moving forward toward a healthier, happier life, and increases our own perceived self-worth at the same time. With a more positive self-perception, it becomes easier to regularly and consistently engage in the tools and actions required for recovery or transformation, and we really start to see ourselves as having the characteristics and capacities that we so deeply value.
Until next time!
If you have a question, please email me at email@example.com
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She has a background in nervous system regulation, trauma, grief & loss, mindfulness, somatic therapy, & positive psychology. She taught the DNRS in-person program for 5 years, has over a decade of experience coaching brain re-trainers & provides mentorship to other coaches. Candy works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com