Most people come to therapy because they are suffering with some kind of a problem, from anxiety to depression and beyond. The truth is that every human being experiences "problems", as well as their counterpart: uncomfortable feelings like fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger. Sometimes these kind of emotions can grow to be so powerful, they actually become the problem, and it can feel like our Self and the problem/feelings are one in the same. Here's a powerful fact: They are not. You are NOT your "problems".
"The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem"
--Michael White, Narrative Therapist
Learning to separate who you are from what "problems" you are struggling with can be an important part of therapy. It is a practice that can free your "Best Self" from the burdens of the problem(s) and the suffering they cause.
Learning to change the way you see yourself is like learning a new language. You are not going to be fluent in a matter of days--it takes practice! Begin with a few activities, and, while they make feel like small steps, take comfort in the fact that you are changing the way you think and feel about yourself. In fact, you are on your way to strengthening Your Best Self!
Here’s how to do it:
Identify the problem, maybe it's Anxiety, for example.
Give it a name (ex. Mr. Worry), a story, or a picture--you don't have to be an artist!
Learn the problem's voice. Practice recognize when the problem is speaking.
Make a list of your strengths as a person. What are your best qualities? This is your Best Self. If you're having trouble, what are the qualities of Your Desired Self? They can soon be one in the same!
Learn to recognize Your Best/Desired Self's voice.
When you begin to recognize the different voices, intentionally stop giving the problem voices so much air time. Let the problem know that you see them there, you hear them, but they're no longer running the show.
Practice! And wonder together, with your therapist, how the problem got so strong in the first place.