A Pie Chart Changed My Outlook On Life

Yesterday I had an appointment with my counselor that really changed the way I look at my life. Before this appointment, I didn’t really feel like therapy was doing much for me, but this appointment was like a break through for me.

In the past, I have always felt like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. When other people are selfish and think only of themselves, I take on more in an attempt to make other people happy. My whole life has been spent holding in my own problems in order to protect everyone else.

One particular example is my relationship with my dad. I have always felt the need to protect him. He is always so stressed out and I don’t want to make it worse for him. He got really sick when I was younger because of stress and ever since then I have been afraid that if I don’t do something to protect him, then he could get sick again…or worse. I’m terrified that I might lose him. For that reason, I completely ignore my own needs. Even though I’m dying to express my frustration, anger, and hurt, I can’t do it because I need to protect him. I feel like its my duty, my <em>responsibility</em> to protect him from my secrets.

But my therapist really opened my eyes to the fact that my thought processes are totally wrong. She did this by drawing a pie chart. She got me to break down all of the potential sources of stress in my dad’s life. By the time the exercise was over it was clear that the amount of stress that I might cause my dad is a sliver compared to everything else. She told me “in reality you are only a tiny percentage of your dad’s stress…but you own it like it is 100% your responsibility”.

I was so shocked by this realization. It was like everything made sense but at the same time I still wanted to fight it. I tried to make an excuse for why I should still protect him, I said “well if nobody else will think of him, then I will do it for them”. My therapist asked me how I felt about the fact that it meant sacrificing my own happiness for my dad’s and I said “oh well”. She then asked me why my own happiness wasn’t important to me. I couldn’t give her an answer. I can’t even explain it really. Even though I know that its not good for me to be unhappy all the time, at least I can say that I tried.

But at least now I can see that it really shouldn’t be all my responsibility to keep my dad happy. Even though I haven’t actually changed my behaviors yet, at least I can see that I should, and that’s something.




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