Author: Stuart Wischhusen | Owner of Tequila Pancho Datos | Non Executive Director at MENTalk Lincs.
I wasn’t aggressive in my second counselling session but my frustrations of the last week were coming out. I just didn’t know how this was going to work. I had spent months trying to get some help after my breakdown and, now I had a solution in place, all my thoughts turned to how this was actually going to help. My problem was working too hard at a very stressful time, that was how my anxiety had built up, right? I was certain. I was wrong.
It was September 2018 – I had my breakdown in July of the same year. In my first session I told Yvette (my counsellor) that I had counselling about 6 years ago for another issue. She said something to me which I dismissed instantly:
“Your issues probably stem from the same problems you had then.”
How could that be possible? Back then, I was stuck in a job I hated and now I was in a job that meant the world to me.
So here I was in my second session – ready to dismiss the whole thing.
I was honest about how I was feeling and how I didn’t think that counselling would help me. Looking back, I feel like I was ready for a fight – maybe my subconscious was in its last line of defence before all would be revealed…
We talked back and forth. About the mask I had been wearing, about the anxieties I had and my recent success in my career. We then hit on something that caused me to break down, Yvette said:
“Why aren’t you proud of yourself?”
I sat there and cried.
I have often described counselling like getting the Christmas tree lights out. You start your counselling in the same way you start to tackle unpicking the lights. You don’t start at the beginning because you don’t know where the beginning is (and neither does it matter) and you start unpicking knots. You keep doing that until you have straightened the lights out. Through counselling, you are picking out knots in your mind that have been hidden away and you are bringing them to the front and dealing with them.
I had just picked out my biggest knot. I could never be proud of myself. So many things had happened in my life which led me to think I wasn’t good enough. Not doing that well at school, feeling un-attractive when I was younger, doing a degree that I didn’t use (although I was certain I would), getting stuck in a job which I hated…
This is all changed when I got my job as a Trainee Business Account Manager. I was so happy, but as I got promoted and became more successful that feeling of not being good enough was always present. I thought:
“I shouldn’t be here.”
This feeling that sat in the back of my mind controlled me. Because I didn’t think I was good enough to be in the position I was, I thought:
“I shouldn’t be here, so you need to be thinking about your role at all times.”
“I shouldn’t be here, so I need to control everything.”
“I shouldn’t be here, so I need to work every hour possible.”
I had never thought about this before. It wasn’t just about being stressed at work, it was thinking I had to hold on to a job that I thought I didn’t deserve…
So Yvette was right, this feeling I had was “the stem” that linked me now, me 6 years ago and through most of my life. It wasn’t just at work either, every time something went wrong in my life, I blamed myself:
“It is your fault because you are not good enough.”
I Am Awesome, Man
I have made a number of changes in my life recently (not all I can list right now), but the biggest is being true to myself. I spent so much time not being proud of who I am that sometimes I have tried to be someone I am not.
I have changed. I have vowed to try and do what I think is right at the time.
This isn’t always easy and it is fair to say that it doesn’t always sit well the people around me. I will give you some examples:
- I will say to a girl that I am dating “you’re amazing” because I truly mean it – even though I should be playing “hard to get” (and I might look like a weirdo)
- I will tell someone if they have upset me – even if I am perceived as too sensitive or weak
- I will say I don’t want to do something (like go karting!) – even if that makes things awkward
I am proud of who I am and I am showing that by taking actions that I believe are right.
Anyway, the title of this piece…
A few weeks ago, when restrictions lifted and we could drink coffee in the park (woo!), I met my good friend “FunTime” Franky. The sun was shining and we sat on a bench enjoying our hot beverages. We talked about my recent dating and Franky said:
“It is a shame some of these haven’t worked out”
I replied with:
“I am awesome, man”
Franky laughed and nearly spat out his coffee – I thought I should clarify…
“I don’t mean that in some arrogant way, like I am better than everyone else in world. I am awesome because I am the truest I have ever been to myself. I have met some amazing women whilst dating but if they don’t think I am amazing as well, then it’s not right…”
“You’re right, and I have seen a change in you. You know yourself, you know exactly who you are and what you want. You make decisions with 100% assured confidence”
I loved hearing that. I realised in that moment that I had come along way…