Psychoanalytic Reflections 05

Sometimes I come out of a ses­sion feel­ing great. Sometimes I come out feel­ing like a mon­ster, like some hor­ri­ble, fucked-up per­son.

During my first ses­sion, my ther­a­pist not­ed that this was a mutu­al process. It was­n’t as if he was going to sur­gi­cal­ly remove an issue with me, it would take the both of us work­ing togeth­er, with a pro­gres­sive effort from me.

That’s what I’m doing now. I’m deter­mined to fix myself.


  • I have a gen­er­al feel­ing of incom­pe­tence, which leads to a lack of trust in my own judg­ments. As a result, I have a very dif­fi­cult time mak­ing deci­sions because I’m par­a­lyzed by the fact that I may make the wrong one.
    • I can trace this back from my child­hood to my ear­ly twen­ties when my par­ents were over­bear­ing and would nev­er let me make any of my own deci­sions. In fact, they would make most of my deci­sions for me, includ­ing sig­nif­i­cant ones, like my pro­gram of study in uni­ver­si­ty.
  • The result is that I tend to ask peo­ple for advice on every­thing, although I’m depen­dent on Pat the most. This is because Pat is so smart and expe­ri­enced, and has nev­er, ever let me down. What I’ve come to real­ize, how­ev­er, is that Pat is so smart because he’s already made his mis­takes.
  • This was linked to my anx­i­ety, where I felt like I could­n’t han­dle any­thing on my own.
  • I’ve been try­ing to fix this is to keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if I make a mis­take, and that some­times, mak­ing mis­takes is the only way to learn.

Unrelenting Standards revisited

  • I real­ized that I tend to have unre­lent­ing stan­dards when it comes to life in gen­er­al, but espe­cial­ly in my writ­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, or art because I feel like this is the only way I will ever dis­tin­guish myself and be worth some­thing. I feel like if I’m not the best, then I’m worth­less. As a result, it’s dif­fi­cult for me to enjoy my life, even some­thing as sim­ple as sit­ting down and watch­ing a movie.
    • The roots of this are more dif­fi­cult to trace than I ini­tial­ly thought. While my par­ents were a tremen­dous influ­ence in terms of mak­ing me feel like their love was con­di­tion­al, I believe a large part of this life­trap has to do with me mak­ing up for my emo­tion­al depri­va­tion by fill­ing my deep­er empti­ness with suc­cess.
  • Even when I do some­thing that I know I should be proud of and sat­is­fied, I feel like there’s always anoth­er thing to do, anoth­er lev­el to reach. While this fuels my self-improve­ment and has got­ten me to where I am now, I’ve come to real­ize that there’s an imbal­ance between the effort and the pay­off. I work too hard for too lit­tle enjoy­ment.
  • I may real­ize this, but it’s a hard habit to break. I have a feel­ing that I’ll need to fix my emo­tion­al depri­va­tion at the same time to do so.


  1. Bah I hit back and lost what I had orig­i­nal­ly typed :p Anyway I think you’re mak­ing good progress by at least iden­ti­fy­ing with some key things that have always both­ered you. We all make mis­takes, some more than oth­ers but I think that also has to do with how much risk a per­son is will­ing to take. You’re very tal­ent­ed and sur­round­ed by peo­ple who care, I know with patience and time you’ll get to where you want to be :)

  2. You’re right about our mis­takes being relat­ed to the amount of risk some­one’s will­ing to take. My prob­lem was that I would miss oppor­tu­ni­ties because I was bare­ly will­ing to take any.

    I real­ized that right here is where I want to be, because I already have every­thing I should need/want (look­ing at it in a some­what Taoist way), but I’m still try­ing to feel that from the very depth of my soul.

  3. Here is what I am dis­cov­er­ing through ther­a­py: One being that I am an extreme­ly needy per­son and I tend to con­sis­tent­ly seek out peo­ple that need to be ‘fixed’; the oth­er being there are things about myself that I am dis­cov­er­ing that I real­ly don’t like. I’m sure this is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing but my eyes are open­ing wider with every vis­it. I want more than any­thing to be hap­py with what I have and con­tent in the direc­tion my life is tak­ing but I feel at this point that there isn’t enough ther­a­py in the world to help me get there.

  4. There seems to be a kind of rela­tion­ship between being afraid of mis­takes and unre­lent­ing stan­dards. The lat­ter nur­tures the for­mer.

    You once said some­thing like tak­ing steps to bet­ter one­self is by itself a bet­ter­ment. In that sense, tak­ing risks is self-accom­plish­ment, no mat­ter what the result, even when it ‘s a mis­take. In that sense, that’re no unre­lent­ing stan­dards to reach. Sometimes we have to learn to laugh at our own mis­takes, and rec­i­p­ro­cate by enjoy­ing the lighter side of oth­ers’ faults.

  5. @Lucy — I used to seek out peo­ple that need to be fixed. For me, it was because I felt like no one was ever there to fix me, so I want­ed to help oth­ers. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; I haven’t gone through it in ther­a­py.

    When I first start­ed my ses­sions, I was some­what over­whelmed by every­thing as well, but I’ve learned that it just takes time, effort, and patience to get bet­ter.

    @Uncle Joe — A lot of the life­traps are inter­re­lat­ed. In fact, they often need to be attacked simul­ta­ne­ous­ly for results. You’re absolute­ly right that tak­ing risks is an accom­plish­ment, but I nev­er saw it this way. I used to see risks as dan­ger and a chance to fall behind.

    To change that mind­set, I think of two lines from verse 63 of the Tao Te Ching: “Accept dif­fi­cul­ty as an opportunity/This is the sure way to end up with no dif­fi­cul­ties at all”.

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