Being the Last One Picked: Coping by Avoiding

Being the Last One Picked: Coping by Avoiding

I hear it all the time in my Silver Lake therapy practice, “it feels like I was picked last on the playground”. A reference used by many in psychotherapy to indicate that they felt unimportant, not good enough, and bad. The truth is that everyone can relate to that sinking feeling, at some point everyone’s been picked last. It might not have been on the playground specifically, but as people we all share the commonality of remembering a time where we felt unimportant, left out, or insignificant. We all try desperately to stash away the feelings associated with these experiences…..hoping that they will go away. The problem is, is that stuffing away feeling, or coping by avoiding, takes energy. Energy away from our being, away from the opportunity to be in the moment and soak up the present. It’s hard to stuff and the costs are heavy. It’s natural to stuff because feelings can be unpleasant, but it’s toxic. We learn to stuff as children, it’s our biggest defense against things that are beyond our cognitive maturity to understand and control. Our dependency on others gives us very little power, we have to live in the situation presented to us by our family, so we develop coping skills to manage that powerlessness. But as adults the pattern of stuffing catches up to us and often hurts more than helps. Learning how to comfort yourself and “hold” yourself rather than stuff the feelings away means giving yourself the opportunity to experience life to the fulllest. You can’t just force yourself to do it, you have to learn. Therapy is about expressing, sharing, and learning.

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