Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.
In therapy, it is common for someone to hone down on one little piece of their personal history, one memory, something a person told them, something seen, even a thought or a dream, which became the nugget, the seed, for an important part of who they are now. I remember a woman whose high academic achievement dated from the time her father said, "I guess you're a B student." She worked at proving him wrong the rest of her life, to her benefit and to her detriment. Another patient remembered a moment of terrible abuse, involving force-feeding, which has haunted him since. He still believes that no one ever could understand him fully. He seeks comfort with moderation and balance and fears control by others. Many women remember the isolated comment by which someone "hit" on them at a young and scared age, or called them "fat," leading to decades of eating disorder, including protective overweight. The nasty comment of a classmate bully or bad parent or sibling, like "You'll never amount to much," "You're a dummy, " or "Your brother is the smart one here," stuck to the point of encouraging the recipient to live up to the negative self-image or contradict it.
It's a helpful exercise to hink about our most memorable moments and look at how they've influenced us. Do we allow the old conditioning to continue? Has it been harmful or helpful, somewhere inbetween?