SELF-ESTEEM AND SUBJECTIVE PERCEPTIONS
Why? Who doesn’t have these issues at some point in their lives? These factors are very common. However, I’ve noticed that a theme has emerged with clients who identify as “privileged.”
Many people mention that their childhood was “good” and that they lived a “normal” upbringing. They often feel that they have had a “privileged” childhood and recall being involved in sports and vacations. My parents never fought, and I got along well with my siblings.”
As we moved away from the family topic for the “getting-to-know you” phase, I began to notice a common theme in all of my “privileged” clients. As we discussed their upbringing and family, they appeared confused or even embarrassed. “My life wasn’t… or really isn’t bad.”
It became clear to me, after building trust and increasing self-awareness, that these “privileged” clients were prone to feeling shame for experiencing normal human emotions. It was sometimes because they felt ashamed of their struggles and compared themselves with others.
These clients, who had not experienced “severe trauma” or “past related issues” but had a “great childhood instead,” had learned to ignore their pain and avoid expressing any raw emotions. They felt ungrateful and embarrassed and were confused about why they were suffering when they thought they had no reason to.
The confusion is usually a result of an internal conflict between their thoughts (i.e., Stopping crying… It could be much worse!” Their thoughts, i.e., The words “I’m depressed,” were never on the same page. This internal conflict can lead to behavioral incongruences and addictions. It can also cause poor communication, low confidence, and relationship problems.
Because my approach to counseling serves a diverse spectrum of races/genders/sexualities/etc., I help my clients (regardless of their upbringing and perceived experiences/identifiable labels) become aware and accepting of normal human emotions without invalidating and comparing themselves to others. By doing so, as people, we can learn how to understand ourselves and others around us without experiencing the dreaded imbalance that causes conflict between our perceptions/insecurities and our feelings/behaviors. It helps to build a strong sense of self and genuine relationships with others.
You can relieve yourself of the shame you feel when you suffer-normal suffering, even if it is “privileged.” We are all human beings with the right and responsibility to take care of our emotional reactions and processes, regardless of differences.