During our first meeting Jennifer asked, “why do I feel so bad?” A PhD in economics, respected professor and award-winning author, Jennifer came to see me because she felt stressed, anxious and unhappy. With all of the outer appearances of success, none of the friends, family or colleagues she tried to speak to about this could relate to Jennifer’s suffering. This left Jennifer feeling very alone and isolated, in addition to the burden she was already dealing with.
When the successful, achieving supermom suffers
In addition to her super career, she was a black belt in aikido, a supermom, did everything she could to maintain a pure organic superfoods diet for herself and her family, did volunteer work with the local animal shelter and even managed to spend 15-20 minutes meditating or journaling every morning. As Jennifer rattled off the mind-boggling list of her accomplishments, I went from admiration to overwhelm. While every activity in Jennifer’s overcrowded life was a good and noble endeavor, I wondered what was driving her.
If pure passion and vision are driving our actions, we may sometimes get tired and need a break, but we are hardly likely to experience the bundle of inner conflict and tension that Jennifer was going through. What if something else was driving Jennifer from deep in her subconscious mind?
Deep wounds and “why do I feel so bad”
I gently invited Jennifer to describe her childhood, asking her to place emphasis on any events or experiences that may have left a mark on her. Jennifer’s father had been a good-for-nothing. He not only didn’t do much with his professional life but he demeaned Jennifer’s mother for everything she did. She reacted to this by striving harder and harder to prove to her husband that she didn’t deserve the criticism and verbal abuse he readily dished out.
Jennifer’s mother wasn’t just walking on eggshells, she learned to do pirouettes on them. Jennifer grew up observing this and understood that, she too, had to do everything possible to avoid the unrelenting criticism of her father. She went to the best universities, got the best grades, excelled at sports but, try as she may to avoid her father’s criticism and to prove to her father that she was good enough, it failed.
Listening to our inner self
Jennifer literally built her ‘empire’ on the quicksand of her inner wounds. We worked together to help Jennifer delve deep within and see beyond the wounds. In order to avoid the deep pain within, she had fallen into the habit of frenetic doing. She realised the many ways her actions overcompensated for her lack of self-worth and fear of criticism. Jennifer gradually stopped walking on eggshells and began to find a sense of safety and self-worth that were not dependent on her outer achievements. Over time, we were able to create a safe space for her to begin to listen to and be with her inner self.
When we have addressed the source of our pain and suffering, it becomes safe and even nourishing for us to listen to our inner voice. Rather than living our lives dominated by our defence mechanisms, we can begin to align to the deeply pacifying and resonant voice of our soul.
101 reasons to go to therapy
We are here to help
If you would like help overcoming any issues that are preventing you from living a happy, harmonious and fulfilling life, or you would like to explore your potential and personal development, you are welcome to fill out the contact form or call Margot to set up a free 30-minute consultation. If you identify with Jennifer and you too wonder “why do I feel so bad” – reach out today.