Many times, when a client seeks counseling or therapy in Orlando for a mental health problem, they don’t have a specific issue in mind. Oftentimes, their main reason for seeking a counselor for counseling is that they just aren’t happy in their day-to-day life. They can’t quite pinpoint what it is that causes them to be unhappy, and in the search for happiness, they seek help from a counselor to figure it all out. What they don’t realize is that happiness can be all about perspective.
Imagine a world where the images in magazines go untouched; where we are taught that who we are is good enough without the editing. Imagine a world where our secrets aren’t really secrets; where in fact we all realize we share similar flaws and unspoken thoughts. Imagine a world where it’s okay to feel comfortable in your own skin, whether you’re fat or skinny, tall or short, have blue eyes or brown eyes, imagine it being okay. Imagine a world where the words “race” and “ethnicity” did not exist because we are all equal and share the common thing of being human beings. Can you imagine it?
We as human beings are our own worst critics. We see ourselves everyday and, more times than not, we judge the selves we see and the life we live. We count our flaws and mistakes, and then continue to research ways on perfecting them. We like to show the outside world our highlight reel, while keeping our bloopers to ourselves. We wear makeup to cover up our scars, freckles, and pimples. We go to the gym to either “buff up” or “slim down.” We dye our hair, we wear certain clothes, and some of us even go the extra step to get reconstructive surgery on our bodies. Oftentimes, we share our good stories and brag about the happy things in our lives while keeping our darkest secrets to ourselves. We seem to compare ourselves to what we see from everyone else, forgetting that they too, have bloopers. We constantly put ourselves down, never feeling good enough, and always looking for people’s approval. We even go the length to compare ourselves to those around us.
Some women wish for curves, while others wish for bones. Men lift weights to gain muscles, while women hit the treadmill to avoid them. You’re grabbing your tummy wishing for abs, while the guy next door is rubbing his head wishing for hair. We all have things we are not proud of. We all have aspects we are unhappy with. The difference between being happy and living a happy life, versus not, is simple—it’s all about perspective.
From a very young age we develop our individual perspective of the world. We learn our place in this world. We learn what to perceive as good enough, what to act like, and even what to look like. We live in a very judgmental world, which can be detrimental to the way we judge ourselves. Whether it’s the perfectly photo shopped body on the cover of Us Magazine, or the stunning 5’9”, size 0 model strutting the catwalk at Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, society is constantly trying to tell us this is what we should be like, and if we aren’t that way, then we aren’t good enough. Society says to be worthy we need to think, act, and look certain ways. Men should have muscles and rockin’ abs, with handsome looks, while a woman needs to be tall and thin and look like she just walked out of a magazine.
A big influence on our perspective is the commercial reels we subject ourselves to. Most commercials you put yourself witness to are ads for things to help you improve yourself, as if who you are isn’t good enough already. According to whatever gossip magazine you decided to pick up today (because they all talk the same nonsense), if you don’t have the looks, the cash flow, or the intelligence, then you’re life is mediocre. However, what many people fail to see is that there is no such thing as perfect; that “flaws” are inevitable, and that mistakes in life are only made to serve as lessons. Just because you don’t look a certain way, act a certain way, or have certain things, doesn’t make you any less of a person than anyone who does.
With a little faith, and the power of positive affirmations, that “imaginary” world where it’s okay to feel comfortable in your own skin despite what you see, hear, or witness from external sources, can actually exist! It can become a part of your life.
Here’s one way you can start to change your inner critic and become your own best role model and cheerleader. In counseling therapists often teach the art of the positive affirmation. A positive affirmation usually starts with “I” followed by what ever you desire for yourself to believe.
Some examples of positive affirmations:
It truly is all about your perspective—that is the key to happiness. The people you see who appear to possess the confidence and art of being their own people, embracing themselves, untouched by societies promoted “this way or that way’s”, don’t have a secret you can’t hear. They have the art of healthy, strong, positive self-talk and good affirmations. Everyone has the ability to tap into this power. We all have the power to perceive the positive in any situation, including about ourselves.
The difference between the unhappy someone holding their stomach wishing for abs and the happy someone holding their stomach wishing for abs, is perspective. The happy person also realizes that the fat on their stomach comes from the fact that they are able to afford food to feed themselves. The guy next door may be patting his head wishing for hair, but this does not cause him distress because he is thankful for the hands he has to pat his head.
Encourage yourself to quit the negative thought patterns and start thinking more positively. Watch the documentary, “Happy,” created by filmmaker Roko Belic. Belic travels to over a dozen countries in search for meaning of happiness. What he finds is remarkable and a lesson that everyone should learn. The documentary covers the many balances of life, ranging from social status and money, to the need for our health and relationships. Belic captures the stories of people from all over the world, and what they perceive as happy. You’ll see how even the poorest of the poor are the happiest of them all.
It’s okay to wish you were a little thinner or to have more hair, but you have to understand that those things do not affect your worth or who you are, and they shouldn’t affect your happiness either. Nothing is better or worse, everything is what it is, and you have to positively affirm yourself that who you are is good enough. When you find yourself in a rut and feeling down about yourself, try some positive affirmations to pick yourself up.
Challenge yourself to be mindful of your thoughts and critiques that you have towards yourself and the life you live. Remember that positive thoughts and actions lead to a positive life. Know that you are good enough and worthy, despite whatever you think or have been told. By positively affirming yourself, you will start to see your life in an entirely new perspective, and will even start to realize you no longer need the affirmations, or approval, of those around you. Believe in yourself. (Article contributed by UCF psychology student, Ashley Campo)
If you could use a change in perspective and some help with shifting negative inner dialogue to positive thinking and positive self-talk, contact the Orlando Thrive Therapy office today or email them at email@example.com.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.