Frustrated and Confused… and Maybe That's OK

The last few weeks have been frustrating and confusing. The focus of my therapy sessions the past couple months has been the things I learned as a young child through my interactions with and observations of my parents and, to a lesser extent, the church community. As a child I interpreted these interactions and observations and developed some of the attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts about myself and others that influence how I view myself and others today (psychology vocab term: internal working models). My observing, interacting, and interpreting carried on into adolescence… and that's where the interpreting at least seemed to freeze in the context of a bad dating relationship.

What's frustrating and confusing about all this is that my various attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, etc., don't fit together; in a lot of ways they flat out contradict each other (psychology vocab term: cognitive dissonance). My therapist framed it this way last week:

Part of you feels that you want these things. That's the Child part, the part that says, “I want this” or “I like this” or “I don't like this.” Then there's another part of you that says you don't need those things, those things are bad. That's the Parent part. The Parent part is doing what it knows to do to protect you.

Part of my assignment for this week's session is pictured below. My therapist says the Parent part is trying to protect. I say the Parent part is being a jerk. Oddly enough, I identify myself with the Parent part and disown the Child part.

Borrowing the Parent-Adult-Child ego state concept from the Transactional Analysis school of thought helps me to understand a little better what is going on in my brain now and what's probably been going on in my brain for 20-some-odd years. It has been my (subconscious?) strategy to beat down the Child thoughts and squelch those little stirrings of humanness and vulnerability with the Parent's dismissive beliefs and attitudes.

I am still really confused about all this and that confusion is what frustrates me so much. What do we do now? How can we correct some of my thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs if those are the lenses I've been looking through as long as I can remember? Won't that change everything about me and how I interact with people? How will I know who I am? Is this even possible?

I think it is OK to feel this way because I am allowing myself to question where we are going next (anticipating movement rather than stasis) and because, for once, I am emotionally engaging in a part of my therapy.