“We all long to know that we are good enough, that we are worthy, or that we matter to the ones we love.
When I was a child, early messages imparted to me included:
“You’re too sensitive.”
“You expect too much of others.”
“You need to have thicker skin.”
The unsolicited commentary seemed constant, and over time, I felt like there was something wrong with me. Eventually I started to believe I needed to change to be accepted and loved.
I looked for ways to cope and mitigate my emotions. I tried to do things perfectly. The expectations I had for myself were set quite high and control was my go-to strategy. External validation and approval seemingly reigned supreme.
These tactics helped me complete my schooling. They pushed me to pursue ten intense years of post-secondary education and complete a PhD in Clinical Psychology. They pushed me to publish book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. I was achieving. These parts of me were working for me…
Until they weren’t anymore. And I experienced a loss.
Facing that reality felt like being pulled down by a tidal wave. It was then that I spiralled into a depression.
To the outside world, I appeared fine. I continued to work. I saw friends. But inside, I felt a deep sense of pain. Control and perfectionism were no longer working for me, and old feelings of unworthiness started to take over once more.
When really difficult things happened I endeavored to make sense of it all. My inner dialogue would tell me, “Well, I’m a good person, so only good things should happen to me. Be good, please others, good things will come.”
It was around the same time that I began training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It was around that time that my perspective on things started to change. In ACT, we must accept what we can’t control. More specifically, we cannot control our thoughts, feelings and others’ behaviours. We need to commit ourselves to what is important to us and take action towards living a meaningful life each day. We have choices in what we do – but we don’t always get to choose our thoughts or feelings, or outside events. ACT doesn’t try to rationalize or find more realistic ways of looking at things; instead, it’s about forming a new relationship with our thoughts and feelings. Rather than withdrawing from life, it asks, “How can I begin to notice and make space for this really hard thought? How can I bring acceptance, kindness, and non-judgment to my experience in this moment?”
Initially, I kept trying to avoid the fact that I was suffering. What I now know to be true is that at some point we all experience pain and the more we try to push pain away, the more we suffer. My favourite expression is ‘Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.’
It was by sitting in pain when pain showed up, unhooking myself from really hard and dark thoughts, that I began to heal the pain of loss.
I am an integrative psychologist. In my practice I use different evidence-based approaches to help clients reach their goals and live meaningful lives. Over the past 12 years, I have been providing psychological assessments, diagnosis, and individual therapy for a variety of difficulties, including depression, anxiety, postpartum difficulties, stress and burnout, and relationship difficulties.
I am also a couples therapist, with over 15 years’ experience researching couples and understanding attachment theory. Attachment theory tell us that we all have a normal and adaptive need to feel a sense of safety and security to our significant others in our world in order to grow.
To learn more about what I do every day with clients in my therapy office, join my online community! Visit my website, check out my Instagram page and if you prefer to learn on the go, tune into my podcast, ‘I’m Not Your Shrink’ where I dive deeper into clinical knowledge and research, in a relatable and informal way. We all need to know that we matter, and that we’re not alone in our struggle.”
We are so excited for our segment called Meet Mental Health Professionals , where you’ll hear about their journey and how they got to where they are now.
As well as this, we will have an Instagram Stories Takeover in the week of when their story goes up, with each professional where you will be able to ASK your mental health questions and get answers from professionals and generally, find out more about them, what they do and tips/advice they have for maintaining good mental health.
Tracy is doing an Instagram Story Takeover on the 23rd of October on our Instagram account, so make sure to tune into our stories that day – and if you miss it, you will be able to catch up with it in our Highlights on Instagram.