Photo credit: David Clinton

Excuse me, did you not see the title? Clearly, this is not for you. I will kindly ask you to please stop reading.

Ahem.

Go on. You heard me. Go check Facebook. You’re probably missing out on a political rant by someone who dumped you in 8th grade. Good stuff.

No?

Look, I don’t want to waste your time. This is a therapy blog, and all therapy blogs say the same stuff we already know. Be vulnerable. Shame this. Depression that. It’s tips and hacks, none of which anyone actually does, but reading them gives us a sense that we have somehow accomplished something. Plus, blogs occasionally provoke emotions. And emotions can lead people to do all kinds of things they regret. So, best to leave this post unread.

For real.

Go. Away.

FINAL WARNING: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS SENTENCE!

Why are you still here? Who clicks on a post titled Do Not Read This Post and reads half way through it, ignoring warning after warning?

Someone who doesn’t always do as they are told.

A spitfire.

A rebel.

That’s who.

And I am glad I found you.

You may be thinking, “But I’m not a rebel. I don’t have tattoos or facial piercings. I don’t listen to angry music. I don’t go to protests. And to the best of my knowledge, I have never burned a bra or a draft notice.” The truth is, you haven’t done any of those things yet. And fashion choices and politically inspired undergarment burnings are not what makes someone a rebel. Those are outward expressions of something inside. A rebel is someone who challenges parts of the status quo believed to be oppressive in some way, with the hope of bringing about change.

And a wise rebel knows that rebellion begins within.

We can’t grow without rebelling, and the first thing we must rebel against is ourselves or, rather, our ideas about who we are (“who I’m supposed to be”). We must challenge the status quo within. We often rebel against institutions, parents, authorities—but in therapy, we are often challenged to rebel against ourselves. Our past. Our assumptions. The voice in our own head that criticizes us based on outdated—and probably even false—criteria. In therapy, we rebel against our fear. And shame. We rebel against abandoning and avoiding ourselves. We rebel against sleepwalking through a shallow, distracted life. We rebel against who we should be and become who we want to be. In therapy, rebellion involves giving up certainty, going to the edges, stoking the embers, lighting the fire of your true self, and burning down your false self, undergarments and all.

Unfortunately, the voice inside the head is a ferocious oppressor, saying…

Don’t reflect on your life.

Don’t own your doubts.

Don’t challenge your own assumptions.

Don’t stoke the embers.

Don’t be your honest self.

Don’t be a disruptor.

Don’t love fiercely. Or humbly.

Give into fear.

Seek approval (especially from the person who dumped you in 8th grade).

Cling to certainty.

Aim for the middle.

Avoid the edges.

And avoid becoming who you really are. At all costs.

Every day you have a choice to do as you’re told or to challenge your oppressor. So let’s see what you’ve got, rebel.

_____

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David Clinton
How Therapy Helps You Find the Hero Inside of You
This is Where You Can Be Your Biggest, Most Beautiful Self