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Fighting The Urge to Say "This Is Just Who I Am"


photo of lightbulbs

When I begin working with a client, my approach is typically to start at the beginning of your life and find connections that explain how it has impacted who you are now. I love the lightbulb moment that happens when a client understands how they were treated in childhood has impacted their current relationships or current behavior patterns. Spending my time digging into the past has proven to be extremely beneficial for my clients. It might be a therapy cliche to approach treatment by exploring your childhood, but I promise it’s helpful.


girl building a wall

This typically creates an interesting shift in how my clients view themselves. Instead of a client seeing their behavior or thoughts as something they can’t control, they begin to see how they’re able to make positive change in their lives.  It’s extremely common for clients to see their mental health as a mountain that is impossible to climb.  Some people develop a mantra of “this is just who I am” as a defense mechanism to explain everything. This is something that I see a lot in clients that have built up walls to protect themselves. 


If we as people approached life with the idea that we are incapable of change, everyone would be the same person that they were when they were in middle school. I don’t know about you, but the middle school version of me is not the person I want to be now. As we grow, learn, and experience new things – we evolve as individuals. Some of the new experiences we have aren’t necessarily positive, but they change who we are and how we approach life. Think about the person you were five years ago versus the person you are now. I’d wager that you’re no longer that same person because of life experiences you’ve had. 


mom and  child sitting on a wall

Something I say to almost all of my clients is that we are a culmination of the environment we grew up in. Most behaviors and thought patterns can be linked back to an experience we had earlier in life. The relationships we witnessed in childhood, our attachment style we developed, the experience we have in school, the friendships we have through life, our first heartbreak  – all of these are examples of the things that shape us as humans.  However, this doesn’t mean that we are incapable of change. The person that you are currently isn’t the person that you’ll be in five years – and this can be a good thing! Although change is scary sometimes, it’s a necessary aspect of growing as a person. 


When you picture who you want to be or changes you want to make, it’s normal to feel like it’s an impossible task. If you see your upbringing or events in your life as the roadmap to your destiny, then it’s impossible to change. Instead, it’s important to think of these things as an influence in your life. Growing up with your family influenced your past or current behavior, but it doesn’t have to shape your future. 


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Shelby Case is a clinician offering in-person sessions at our Louisville office or telehealth sessions! She strives to make long-lasting connections with her clients in order to facilitate positive change. As a well-known homebody, Shelby enjoys living a cozy life outside of her time working by focusing on hobbies, spending time with her spouse, getting overly invested in TV shows, or cuddling with one of her cats. 

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