Take Responsibility: It Will Change Your Life.

 

Do you feel like your life is out of your control? Do the same bad things seem to be happening to you over and over again? Do you feel powerless to what happens to you in relationships, with jobs, and with friends?  If so, then I am sorry to hear it, and I think that there may be a solution for you.  

 

The world can be a difficult and unpredictable place.  Bad things happen to people all the time. Unfortunately,  when someone has experienced a traumatic event that is out of their control, one might feel powerless and like other people are responsible for how they feel. And to some extent,  they aren’t wrong. Other people make choices that impact us. There is no doubt about that. Someone may choose a fate for you, one that you would have never chosen for yourself.  And this is where things get tricky, because if you are a victim of a crime or an assault, alcoholic or narcissistic parents, or relationships with controlling people, you may have forgotten that you too, have agency, and you too, can continue to make decisions that can affect the outcomes of not the past, but of the present and forward.

 

Let me tell you about taking personally responsibility and how it will change you life. Lets first talk about what it means to take responsibility.  Taking responsibility is owning that you may be acting in a way that is propagating your current situation. For example, if you are in a bad relationship with someone who is selfish. Maybe you made a mistake and didn’t know what the warning signs were. That’s ok. There is no need to blame or shame yourself. But you also don’t need to continue to suffer.  A way to take responsibility is to own that, although maybe you made a mistake, you are choosing now to stay in this relationship, and it is therefor your responsibility to choose to stay or to decide to leave.  

 

Please do not mistake someone telling you to take responsibility for victim blaming.  If something terrible has happened to you, such as a sexual assault, a car accident, or an attack, that’s not your fault. You cannot take responsibility for the actions of another who has harmed you.  You cannot change the past, and you cannot stop bad things from happening. You can, however,  take responsibility for yourself as much as possible. Going to therapy to explore your beliefs in the world, your tendencies in relationships, and what responsibility you are taking to heal, be accountable to others, and choose to surround yourself with supportive people can be helpful.  

 

And this is how it will change your life:  once you take responsibility for yourself and for your actions, you might find that you feel empowered, because when you believe that you have agency and you can change your situation,  you may realize that you are making choices for yourself, as opposed to the world around you making choices for you.

 

Name *
Name
Phone *
Phone

The Human Condition

   As a mental health professional, and someone who is a curious human being in general, I spend a large amount of time trying to understand the complexities of human emotions and the reasons for the pleasure and pain that humans can experience on a regular basis. The underlying question is this:  are humans always bound to return to “suffering”, regardless of what we do? Is it the human condition to experience loss and sadness, forever, along side happiness and pride and excitement?

    As a therapist I must ask myself this question repeatedly as it is part of my job to help people with their suffering. If there were a “happy” pill to take away sadness, people wouldn’t go to therapy at all.  If there were a pill to take away sadness, would we every really feel happy, though? Would there really be light if there were no darkness?  If the human condition is to swing between emotional well-being and emotional suffering, then would we really know happiness without knowing what pain feels like?

    I don’t try to talk my clients, my friends, or myself out of being unhappy.  Mostly because I have learned that being unhappy is not permanent, and I don’t think that ignoring or burying the pain will really make it go away faster.  I do, however, strive to work with the meaning of the pain.  For example, if someone is consistently depressed over a long period of time, they may think that this means that they will always be depressed, which is not necessarily the case.  But every time that they are depressed thereon after, when they return to sadness, the meaning that they make may be that they are still sad and that they will always be sad.  On the other side of 10 years of steps to becoming a therapist and practicing therapy, I have formed the opinion that the point of therapy might not be to eliminate the sadness, but rather, to learn let people in when you are suffering as to not be alone. I now understand therapy as being the practice of reaching out in the suffering, and learning to be with another in suffering, as to learn to repeat this in your outside life, as to surround yourself with those people in your life who understand and who also don’t want to be alone in suffering. 

  For hundreds of thousands of years before this point in time, it was our purpose to survive on a daily basis.  Our survival needs were forefront to our emotional issues.  Finding food, clean water, safety, warmth, and other basic survival needs kept us from the daily suffering that we now experience in absence of the basic will to survive.  Struggles now have become making enough money, not feeling isolated, finding meaningful relationships, and finding meaning in general for our purposes on a daily basis.  Our survival needs have manifested differently and they are now not what we spend every second of every day thinking about, or fighting for.  So if you are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, and like your life is existentially pointless, it might be helpful to think about spending some time in the wilderness, conceptualizing how you would go about finding food if you didn’t have any, how you might build a shelter, how you could keep warm. And if you feel like you are the only one in the world suffering right now, it might be helpful to talk to someone to discover that you could possibly be understood by another person and potentially many others. 

 

Bianca Aarons LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco . Bianca’s specialties include attachment, trauma, sexual abuse, post traumatic stress, relationship issues, depression issues, couples work and work with teenagers. Learn more about Bianca at www.biancaaarons.com, email her at BiancaAaronsMFT@gmail.com, or call her at (415) 553-5346 to ask any questions or to set up a consultation session.

 

Name *
Name
Phone *
Phone

What It Has Been Like To Be a Sexual Abuse Survivor During The 2016 Presidential Elections

It’s November 9th. The polls are in. Many are shocked and amazed that their worst fears have been realized: Donald Trump is the president of the united stated of America. And many of us wonder, how did it come to be, and what does it mean.

   As a psychotherapist who specializes in Sexual Abuse Trauma,  I would like to look back on this election through the lens of what it has been like for sexual abuse survivors to watch this election and vote in this election.  I would like to bring a voice to sexual violence, for it is traditionally and societally silenced. Why is it silenced, and why is it important that trump won the election despite clearly having views on consent and sexuality that represent Sexual Abuse? I would like to tell you in a clear and consolidated way why it’s such a big deal.

            Many people I know who are survivors of sexual abuse trauma have reported terrible dreams during this election, specifically after the second debate. The dreams include flashbacks of their sexual abuse and their perpetrators. It has become my life work to grapple with this type of trauma, and it has become my professional work to be a therapist for sexual abuse trauma, to run groups for survivors in need, and to be the voice that is repressed and silenced.

Since before the election even started, I have been worried.  One in Three women are sexually assaulted in this country. Surprised? It’s surprising, especially considering that most cases are not pursued legally or even talked about at all.  Hillary Clinton, from the beginning, has represented something to not only women, but to the LBGTQ population, to less privileged populations. She is a woman standing up against patriarchy to become a president.  This gave other women, minorities, and anyone really who has suffered from patriarchal systems a glimpse of  hope. But the threat in this election is much more than just patriarchy- Its Donald Trump himself, and what he represents.  It’s Brock Turner.  It’s the Rich, White, Wealthy men getting a slap on the wrist for “grabbing by the pussy” or raping an unconscious woman. It’s the fact that our country chose a xenophobic racist billionaire as the president instead of a woman. It’s the fact that, when people do stand up to their perpetrators, their perpetrators often times win with a smirk on their face. I know that my words are maybe a simplified version of the complexities of the election, but the themes cannot be denied.

  This Election is personally triggering for sexual abuse survivors, and for Women, LBGTQ Folk, Men, Minorities, Immigrants, and Underprivileged populations alike, because that same message that one got from society when they were originally assaulted has just been reinserted with the Election:  Someone who is unsafe has power over you and you will be out of control. I encourage those to fight for what they believe in and I strive to illuminate the voice and the experience for sexual abuse survivors who wish to be heard and seen right now.

Bianca Aarons LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco through the auspices of the Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center. Bianca’s specialties include attachment, trauma, sexual abuse, post traumatic stress, relationship issues, depression issues, couples work and work with teenagers. Learn more about Bianca at www.biancaaarons.com, email her at BiancaAaronsMFT@gmail.com, or call her at (415) 553-5346 to ask any questions or to set up a consultation session.