Finding Your Life Path
Are you a young adult, out on your own for the first time and trying to find a meaningful direction for your life?
- Are you an adult in mid-life, longing for a change of direction but unsure where you want to go or how to get there?
- Do you worry that you’ll never find your path because there is something “wrong” with you?
- That you are not smart or talented enough to do what you really love and to live your life on your own terms?
- That you are too “different” from other people – too sensitive, too unconventional – to find your place in the world?
- That it is selfish to focus on your own needs when others’ suffering seems so much greater than your own?
- Or do you have none of these feelings but, rather, a vague sense that something is “off,” that you’ve fallen behind, that you’re not where you should be in your life but you don’t know how to get there?
Are you thinking about giving up and settling for a life that isn’t true to who you are or to your deepest values?
You don’t have to settle for being less than your best self.
I know your pain is real. I know that, when you feel disappointed in and critical of yourself, you can’t help but feel that there must be something about you that is deeply flawed. After all,
If nothing is wrong with you, why do you feel so bad?
As hard as it may be to believe, feelings of low self-esteem usually have very little to do with who we actually are–with our actual talents, abilities or character. Instead, they come from early experiences in our families and with others that give us our vision of what we feel we can expect from ourselves, from other people and from life. Usually, we take this vision so much for granted that we don’t even recognize it. Instead, we think that this is just the way the world is–that other people will not recognize us for who we are or will not be dependable or will make us feel different and excluded. Most of all, we feel that it must be our fault that we feel the way we do. We think that, if we were just better people, we wouldn’t feel so bad about ourselves.
Psychotherapy in Berkeley can help you understand and accept yourself so you can find the path you’re seeking.
As you come to understand and accept yourself, you will find the confidence to choose a life path that expresses your best self. You will come to feel that you can succeed on your own terms and be understood and appreciated by others. When you do experience jolts to your self-esteem, you will be able to recover from them more quickly and easily than you have in the past.
Here is an example of the way in which therapy helped someone I worked with gain a new sense of self-esteem and have the confidence to find and follow her own unique, individual, authentic life path.
In this example, all potentially identifying names and details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the therapy relationship. I will never reveal anything that happens in your therapy to anyone unless you give me your express, written permission to do so.
The purpose of this example is simply to give you a feel for my work and how you might benefit from it. Your struggles will undoubtedly be different from that of the person described below. My goal is always to find a way of working together that best meets your unique, individual needs. In psychotherapy, one size does not fit all!
Katherine was in her mid-20′s when she first came to see me. She had done very well in college and had won several literary contests while she was a student. However, since her graduation, she had been doing unfulfilling temp jobs. Whenever she thought about writing, or even about taking a writing class, she was overcome with feelings of self-doubt and paralysis.
When Katherine first came to see me, she was puzzled by her lack of self-confidence. She had always done well in school, and she felt that her family had always supported her and appreciated her accomplishments. She felt that there must be something wrong with her because she was unable to succeed when she came from a family that had no obvious problems.
As Katherine and I worked together, she would sometimes relate incidents that had occurred in her childhood that, to her, seemed completely unremarkable but that, to me, began to indicate where the source of her difficulties might lie. When she was a young child, Katherine had had a medical condition that required painful weekly treatments. One day Katherine told me that her parents had often told her that they would cry when they took her to the doctor for her treatments. This became the starting-point for our understanding how, in her relationships with others, Katherine was always preoccupied with trying to figure out what other people wanted and giving it to them, often at her own expense. Katherine took a tremendous amount of pride in her ability to do this. However, we soon discovered that this commitment to always giving others what they wanted was premised on Katherine’s belief that she would hurt other people if she expressed her own feelings. Just as she couldn’t cry in the doctor’s office without, to her mind, making her parents suffer, Katherine felt that she could not express her own feelings without hurting other people. She would often have affairs with married men who felt that she perfectly met their needs. But she could never have a committed relationship of her own because she felt that her own needs would drive the other person away.
As Katherine and I worked together, she was able to see how her inability to access many of her feelings kept her from being able to write. Not only was she afraid that she might disappoint potential writing teachers if she did less than perfect work or disagreed with them in any respect. She also realized that feeling pride in her own work made her feel guilty that she was not paying enough attention to the feelings of others. As we worked through these issues, Katherine was able to begin writing again, to take classes and to submit her work for publication.
Even if therapy has helped other people, why should you believe it will help you?
Our deepest feelings about ourselves are formed in relationships with others. When those relationships have had a negative effect on our self-esteem, we need to experience a different kind of relationship in order to feel better about ourselves. I will provide you with a safe, supportive relationship in which you can discuss difficult issues without fear of being judged or criticized.
You may have been in therapy before and it didn’t get you where you wanted to go. Why will this time be different?
Finding your individual life path requires developing a vision of who you are that is rich enough, complex enough and deep enough to counteract the negative vision that keeps you feeling stuck. I bring a unique background to my psychotherapy practice that, I believe, makes me especially qualified to help you develop this vision of yourself.
Before I became a psychotherapist in Berkeley, I was a professor of philosophy and religious studies. By studying and teaching the works of difficult and complex thinkers, I learned not only to tolerate but to enjoy the complexity and richness of the way each person experiences his of her life.
For me, psychotherapy is not about my understanding you in terms of narrow, preconceived categories but about our working together to help you develop your own unique understanding of who you are and who you want to be in the world.
I won’t impose my vision on you. I will help you articulate your own vision of yourself – a vision that integrates all of the complex, confusing, seemingly contradictory sides of yourself into a coherent sense of who you are and who you want to be.
How will you know if I am the right Berkeley psychotherapist for you?
I know you can’t be expected to decide if I am the right therapist for you on the basis of what you’ve read here or on the basis of one meeting. That’s why I usually suggest that we meet two or three times so you can see if you feel we are a good match. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and to help you decide if I am the best therapist for you.
Gain The Confidence To Reach Your Potential
If you are ready to build your self-esteem and find your life path, I invite you to call me at 510.304.7282 or contact me to discuss how psychotherapy can help you. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about my practice, which serves the communities of Berkeley, Oakland, the East Bay and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.