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You begin to feel that, to put it callously, you were married for financial reasons and other reasons. You begin to wonder, especially when I need a good deal of emotional support and I find that I don't get it, due to circumstances. Leader: It's really very disturbing to have those feelings. Jane: It is, there's a great deal of guilt attached to it, too, because I was always brought up with the feeling that you should never think those things about your husband. She had spent years counseling survivors of sexual abuse. And when we sat down for our first conversation, she discussed the limits of her work experience. She had worked with Black women for years, she said, but she had never been a Black woman. So while she had become well versed in issues impacting Black women in America, she would never be able to connect as directly to my lived experiences as a Black therapist would. But she would listen to me, and trust my ability to reliably convey what was happening to me, and offer the best counseling she could give. Would that be enough for me, she asked. She understood if it would not. I immediately started crying with relief. In years of seeing different therapists, I had never once heard from a professional that if therapy wasn't working for me, it might not be because I wasn't a good fit. It might not be me that was broken. Stuck in this trap, you throw your valuable energies into fighting phantoms. The other person likely doesn't know what you're thinking, and truth be told, you can't be sure what they are thinking. You can create an entire argument in your head without ever addressing the person. Needless to say, this is not an effective way to solve a relationship conflict, and usually adds to your stress by stirring up a maelstrom of imagined insults and offenses. Overgeneralizing is often combined with personalizing or externalizing. For instance, in this case, He never listens to me.

He's impossible or I'm a lousy parent. Both thoughts put you in lockdown. They're much more difficult to do something about than, for instance, I've been tired lately and not responding well or My kid needs to learn better manners. By definition, problems that are very general are more difficult to solve. Leader: So, you tend to blame yourself when you do have thoughts like that. Jane: Yes, and I take the attitude that everything that's wrong with our marriage is my fault. I tend to take that attitude, so that he's got the feeling that well, he's just -- he's perfect. Kay: Have you discussed it with him? Does he realize how insecure you feel? Jane: Yeah, he's beginning to realize now. And as I said, not until recently has he begun -- I will say that essentially there's a great deal of possibility that we can develop a relationship that will be satisfactory to both of us. Leader: There are many positive factors. Jane: Yes, there are; But it's at a terrific expense to me emotionally, but he does come around. I am a whole person. I am a fat, Black, queer woman. I'm a mother. I'm a sexual assault survivor. I'm a writer. I'm an activist.

I'm a feminist. In me lies victory, trauma, humor, despair, love, and so much more. And yet, when I tried to engage with traditional practices of mental health--like medicine, therapy, or self-help articles--I was never given space to bring my entire self along the journey. Often, the rejection of my whole self in the mental health and self-improvement fields mirrored the same rejection I felt from the broader world. One is something you can tackle, the other is an immovable state of being that leads to helplessness and hopelessness. Again, you're only seeing a subset of solutions, and in this case, it's the subset that is least likely to effect change. A Pessimism trap creates a downward spiral that leads you to the worst-case scenario. It could generate thoughts like, If he took the car without asking, what else is going on that I don't know about? What's wrong with him? He's going to end up getting into trouble at school or, worse, with the law. Then he won't get into a good college, and his future will be ruined. Look, bad things do happen in life. We don't want to convert you from a pessimist to a Pollyanna; When you focus on the worst case, you allot the majority of your energy to worrying about something that has a one in a million chance of actually coming true. A great many scenes have to occur before he realizes some things. And then he'll come around to it. Kay: Is that because, uh, do you express this feeling that you have. Or do you just let him blindly have to guess at them? Jane: I don't express it too much, no. Kay: Well, you see, he doesn't really know.

Jane: Well, he doesn't know, that's true. Leader: It's very hard for you to express your feelings to him. Jane: Yes, because I -- if I break down and do it and then I'm put in a position where I am not as high as what I would like to be. I feel that I'm not as mature as I would like to be. It was constantly reinforced that I was the piece that didn't fit. Over the years I have--first with that important therapist and then with my own work with community support networks--come to realize that not only do I need to be seen and accommodated as a whole person in society in order to be healthy, but that it is an obligation of society to make sure that we are seeing and caring for everyone. I have come to see how, in a world built to cater to people who are white, cisgender, abled, straight, and male, not only are systemic oppressions and injustices making people sick, they are also building barriers to any attempts at healing or wellness. But we all deserve connection. We all deserve care. We all deserve compassion. Radical Belonging is a rare article in which I saw some reflection of myself in every article. It is a article that endeavors to hold space for people who have consistently been told that they don't fit in the framework of mental health and healing. This is a article that affirms that we are not the wrong shape, we are not the wrong size, and we are not broken. It is a article that I wish had been written many therapists ago, but I'm so glad it exists now. That's not a good deployment of resources. We want to spend our energy on the contingencies that are most likely to happen. If we get bogged down in stressing over the worst-case scenario, we miss the actual problems that come our way and end up, ironically, unprepared to deal with them. At the same time, there may be good possible outcomes at our disposal, but we're failing to see the positives and maximize them. In the Emotional Reasoning trap, the thinking revolves around holding how you feel as absolute proof that what you perceive is unequivocally the reality. We have already seen from Day 1 that a lot of our feelings are unwarranted and based on mistaken beliefs.

The thought causes the feeling. When we rely on those same feelings as proof that the thoughts are indeed real, we set ourselves up for an error in logic. If you feel anxious, it's because you are thinking there is a future threat in evidence. But in fact, that may just be your anxiety radar pinging. INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP THERAPY -- SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES There Are Similarities With the above excerpt providing concrete material for consideration, we may gain in understanding of the subtle and complex process of group therapy by making comparisons with the more familiar process of individual client-centered therapy. The most elusive of all the qualities evident in the session reproduced should probably be considered first because it is fundamental -- the kind of climate or atmosphere or feeling that was gradually built up -- that has to be built up if there is to be gain from the group experience. As in individual client-centered therapy, the members of a group must perceive the situation they are in as being dependably sustaining of their selves. They bring to the situation a freight of anxiety, a product of their unsuccessful efforts to relate themselves effectively to other people, and this anxiety is usually heightened by the indeterminate nature of the impending experience in therapy. It is believed that each member of a group, if he is to profit from therapy, must find in the therapist and in other members of the group a genuine feeling of acceptance. He must find in the group situation increasingly less need for the defenses against anxiety which render him so ineffectual in living with others and so unhappy in living with himself. As in individual therapy, he must feel increasingly free to examine himself, with assurance that there will be an understanding of his life as he sees it, and that there will be respect for him as a person every step of the way. It is also desirable and probably necessary that the individual in a group find a quiet confidence in his ability to be responsible for his own life, and a willingness for him to make choices regardless of their direction, the final confidence being that he will make decisions essential to the full realization of himself. I want to reread it with my partner, with my friends, so we can, as Bacon puts it, restore the connection that was interrupted by a culture of othering. I deserve that connection, my community deserves that connection, and you do too. THE GENDERED ME I'm walking toward a women's restroom. I'm now an adult in midlife, at a conference I'm soon to keynote. A stranger and I reach the door at the same time.