by Alex Pratt, AMFT
“A thousand plastic flowers don’t make a desert bloom. A thousand empty faces don’t fill an empty room.”
― Frederick Salomon Perls
I have heard the line, “I just don’t feel like myself anymore,” many times both in therapy and from the people around me in my daily life. Our world seems to be increasingly concerned with how one is perceived by others. The obvious way that this plays out is on social media, where a majority of what we see paints the picture that everyone around us has life under control. What might be less obvious is how life has been eating away at our authentic self since childhood.
Many people learned that expressing painful emotion meant weakness. Some learned that their lofty aspirations weren’t a sign of hope, motivation, and self worth, but instead they were simply hopeless dreams that would result in failure. On that note, many learned that failing to achieve a goal would be unacceptable. These are all regular examples of lessons that often result in an individual stifling their emotions and sense of self to better adapt to the expectations of the world around them.
It is my belief, that this way of life is not sustainable. One who lives solely to meet other’s expectations will not find lasting happiness in doing so. It is my goal as a therapist to create an environment that enables my clients the freedom of self expression. As we learn to remove the restrictions placed on us that dictate how we are allowed to express emotion, what it means to fail, how hopeful we are allowed to be, and many others, a funny thing starts to happen… We become ourselves again. While a thousand empty faces won’t fill an empty room, a thousand authentic individuals will.