Yonasan Bender
Psychotherapist and Clinical Director of Jerusalem Therapy

The Challenge of Facing the Real You

Jerusalem Therapy Mental Health Services

“Be who you already are.” “Embrace your essence.” “Be the real you.” These are attractive slogans. Who would argue with them?  Yet, the truth of the matter is we are all far more likely to argue with them than we’re comfortable admitting. We struggle with these slogans because when we scratch the surface of our happy small talk and smiling Facebook post, there is pain lurking underneath.

Guilt, shame, anger, sadness, and regret stand against us. Sometimes it feels like these feelings are putting on one big sensational show trial. One after another they come as character witnesses testifying that the real you isn’t who you really are. If we buy into their claims whole sale, they tell a story about a messy life full of regrets and mistakes. With compelling testimony, they convince us to cut out of our own lives. Don’t get too close to the real you. It isn’t pretty. Stick with the small talk and the kitty cat posts because, seriously, who are you kidding?

Thank God this isn’t the real story. The truth is that the vast majority of our suffering comes out of a needlessly complicated struggle. First, we hyper focus on what these intense feelings are trying to say to the point we miss the actual message. Then, with knee-jerk desperation, we cut off the feelings in midsentence. We deny these feelings are there and we reject what we’re thinking. This dance traps us into having to believe one of two unrealistic options. Either we are good or we are bad. “Ah, forget about it. Really, I’m just tired.”

Paradoxically, developing an openness to these feelings is what gets us back into our lives. By not cutting these feelings off midsentence, we can begin to hear we’ve got their message all wrong. They aren’t bringing us to trial and they aren’t testifying we’re rotten. The testimony is actually a promise that we are better than we think. If we’re really lucky, they might be saying we can be even better than we are now. We regret our choices because we usually do make the right calls. We’re sad because not letting down others is the norm rather than the exception. We do feel guilty because the values we hold dear are admirable. They’ve seen us through more problems than we can count. Sure, these feelings are painful. That’s the reason we tune out in the middle before we can actually catch whose side they’re really on.

About the Author
Yonasan Bender is a psychotherapist and the clinical director of Jerusalem Therapy. He is a graduate of Hebrew University’s Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare. He completed post graduate training in a wide array of therapeutic approaches ranging from CBT to Psychodynamic therapies. Before Hebrew University, he studied at Washington University in St. Louis and Drake University. Yonasan majored in philosophy and ethics. Yonasan is a member of the Association For Contextual Behavioral Science. He’s a key member of the clinical team at The Place, the Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. Yonasan has collaborated with other mental health organizations like Machon Dvir as a Dialectical Behavioral Therapist skills trainer. He’s also served a group leader for the National Educational Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder’ Family Connections program. He specializes in treating anxiety, depression, anger, poor self-esteem, insomnia, psychosis, autism, personality disorders, and marital conflict. He has an extensive background working with individuals, couples, families, and children.
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