I had therapy from both the person-centred and existential perspective so I will reflect on how these issues have to lead to my personal development.
This story starts at an existential touchstone in my life when I just decided to close my business. Partly due to the loss of meaning in my life, I turned to drugs. Doing drugs was my default way of dealing with my emotions. I was explicitly taught by my dad through conditions of worth (created by Rogers) that showing your emotions made your weak, leaving me to feel as if expressing them would only lead to greater isolation. As Bandura’s social learning theory would suggest I also learned the addictive behaviour from my mother, who lost her life to Alcoholism. “Most of the images of reality on which we base our actions are really based on vicarious experience” (Bandura, 2001).
”Deep down I knew I was not fulfilling my potential and the action of turning to drugs was not aligned with my Ideal Self.
This created different configurations of self, one part of me knew if I continued on this path I would ultimately kill myself, just like my mum had done before me. But as (Freud, 2015) said we deny and suppress death and tell ourselves, either we won’t die because we are special or that someone else will save us. But I knew that no one was going to come and save me but myself. I realised that my mum’s life was not an example, her death was the lesson I needed in how not to live.
”This realisation tipped the scales and at that point, the other configuration of myself took over.
The one that wanted to find a deep meaning for my life and become congruent. But this did not happen overnight and I was faced with a great deal of Existential Anxiety and Uncertainty. After quitting my drug addiction, by upgrading my peer group and reprogramming my social learning. I realised that If I really wanted to find meaning and congruence I needed to face my emotions and go to therapy. My therapist was person-centred and provided me with Rogers core conditions which allowed me to feel safe to explore my feelings. After a year in therapy working on becoming more congruent and raising my emotional intelligence. I still felt that to align my self-image and ideal self I needed a deeper meaning, one that came from my organismic self.
At this point, I stopped trying to force opportunities and noticed an amazing possibility. My stepmom booked an interview at a university for me to do a degree in counselling. I had already seen first hand the benefits of a good counsellor and in the back of my mind, I had a task I completed at a success seminar a few months before. Said task suggested my life purpose was to give the world what I felt I did not receive as a child, which was emotional support. So I decided to attend the interview and I felt intrigued by the course. But as my step mum had presented the opportunity, this meant it came from my external locus of evaluation. So I could not authentically take the opportunity. I would not have been able to commit to something that big and live with myself if it originated as a condition of worth.
Through some self-reflection and a therapy session, I managed to let go of the current meaning in my life (My new business) and embrace all the anxiety and uncertainty and move this opportunity to my internal locus of evaluation. Now I have been at university for a while, I feel a lot more congruent and that I have made some amazing progress on my path to self-actualization.