A Psychologists Advice To Her Younger Self
People find my career choice genuinely interesting. With the inquisitiveness reflected in questions I so often get asked; “Do you work in a practice?” “Do you ever get stressed?” “Do you always ask people how they’re feeling?” and my favourite “Can you read my mind?”
Though I’ve yet to be able to read anyone’s mind, I’m sure looking forward to the day I can. People often ask why I became a psychologist, expecting an inspirational tale of a little girl that dreamed of helping people. The truth is, I actually wanted to be a lawyer, and spend my days assertively articulating my point in front of a courtroom.
I don’t actually recall the moment when my younger self decided to pursue psychology. Whilst conscious me was visualising brief cases and power suits, my subconscious was steering me in the direction of psychology. Almost whispering to me “you are going to need this”.
For me, if I had trained to be, under my original plan, a lawyer, how would I have known how to effectively cope with the ups and downs that life presents us at times? How would I have known the tools and techniques to manage my mind when it struggles at times? How would I know what gets me stuck at times or when I am limiting my potential?
It’s likely I wouldn’t.
If I could package up my knowledge and experience as a psychologist and present it to younger me then I would tell myself:
You Have An Awesome Brain
It will want to protect you too much and talk you out of things you might thing you want to do. It will use all the information from your past, to predict what it thinks will happen in the future. It will never entertain the good stuff you want to happen, but it will protect you and stop you from the worst. It thinks it’s for your own good, but sometimes it’s just going to keep you playing small when really you don’t want to. Everything you want is on the other side of fear. To get to it, you need to go through it, so learn how to.
The Little Things Count
It’s the little things, rather than the big things that will always make you feel better. It’s a big deep breath before you go on stage, it’s your favourite song blasting in the car, it’s gratitude for the perfect latte, it’s the snort laugh of a friend, it’s the kiss on the forehead from a lover, it’s the moments of silence during a meditation and it’s the cuddle from your kids. Don’t wait for the big changes to happen, be present with the little things, and they will add up to something bigger.
You Need To Make Mistakes
If you’re moving forward in life, you’re going to make mistakes. You will learn from them and they’ll always point you in the right direction, even when you resist it at the time. So never be afraid of making them. Perfectionism will stagnate you, so get rid of that as early as you can.
You’ve Got This
You will go through some really difficult moments and some of these times will be so tough that you will think they will never end. Sit in the confidence that you will pull through it. You’re emotions are temporary, time does heal and you are stronger than you think. In fact, you will come out of it all with a whole different way of thinking, which is going to benefit those who are going through similar adversities.
Connection Is Crucial
Make sure you are always connected. Connected to those you love, connected to your community, connected to something bigger than yourself, connected to your soul, connected to your work and connected to the present moment. Always explore this with your clients, as this is often the missing link in their struggles.
Muck Around More
Stop being so serious. Play increases happiness, creativity, success and it will raise your level of consciousness. Life will gift you more positive things when you muck around in the moment. It’s hard to engage in your worries when you’re giggling with friends on the dance floor or in the middle of a game of twister. So do more of that.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Learn to just be you. Your beauty is in your point of difference. Don’t try and be like anyone else, because by you just being you will lead to the right people and the right opportunities to enter your life, and the wrong ones will walk away. Get to know yourself and relish in it.
It’s funny how the learnings from one person, can be so applicable to others. I wonder if I would have figured this out if I’d become a lawyer. Lucky my subconscious steered me in the right direction, my conscious younger self probably wouldn’t have had a clue.