You probably clicked on the title of this article thinking, “but wait, Abby, I know I’m not special!” And deep down, you know there’s a part of you that thinks you might be, or hopes you might be.
Maybe growing up, you were told you were good at drawing or soccer. Maybe you were just really, really smart. If you’re lucky, you had parents who delighted in every “song” you played on your toy trumpet and the immense beauty of the half-dead daisy you picked from the front lawn.
You probably grew up to realize that if you’re pretty good at drawing, there are about a million other people who are pretty good at drawing too. You have a great idea? Google tells you it has been patented ten times, somehow. So, if you’re like most people, you resign yourself to the drudgery of mediocre, un-special existence.
But there’s a more sneaky kind of “special”:
A lot of people come into therapy thinking they’re “special” in a completely different way, though. Most people won’t say this out loud, but when we dig a little bit, we come across beliefs like this:
- Nobody is as incredibly unloveable as me.
- I try to take good care of my kids, but I’m really an awful father.
- I’ll always underachieve in my career.
- I’m really gross and ugly.
- This therapy stuff clearly works for a lot of people, but it’s not gonna work for me.
I’m gonna call that “shitty special.” I’m not a betting girl, but I’m gonna guess all that focus on specialness didn’t go away when reality set in- it just got corrupted. A lot of therapy involves popping the balloon of your “shitty special” beliefs. Nearly everyone has some awful ideas about themselves, so by definition, you aren’t special for believing that. And people who are super famous often report struggling or having struggled with self esteem in the past. Thankfully, your beliefs don’t totally create reality: you can think you’re the lowest of low while actually being amazing.
Yes, you ARE special!
Now here’s where I’m going to throw in a “belief”, and- bear with me- this is about as “woo woo” as I’m gonna get, ever. I believe that every one of us has something unique to contribute to the world- something, dare I say, “special.” Something only you can offer in the particular way you offer it.
And sometimes those nasty beliefs block us from contributing that thing. If you believe that you uniquely suck, you may not put yourself out there and take risks. If you believe you’re unloveable, you may miss out on the connections that would help you blossom and grow.
For most of us, our contributions will be pretty ordinary and anonymous. Good-enough parenting, being a kick-ass friend, being kind, delivering amazing work. All of these are easier to do when we don’t despise ourselves, and make the world infinitely better to live in. Some of us will change the world in seismic ways or become household names- we don’t really know if that’s us or not, and doesn’t really matter. Either way, you’re unique and special- you just have to get out of your own way sometimes.
I don’t want to imply that “getting out of your own way” is an easy endeavor. Those beliefs are so tricky, and once we believe them, we are really good at “finding” evidence to confirm them. If you believe you are deeply unloveable, you might point out that there are nearly eight billion people who don’t love you- but that’s true for everyone. If you focus on the thing that seems broken in you, you won’t make any space for the part of you ready to heal.
If you’re struggling to shift your focus, set up a free call to see if therapy can help. I’d be honored to help you find and appreciate your real specialness.