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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Self-Image, Part 4

Special consideration

There is a niche matter that may be worth addressing before I conclude this post. I imagine that for the mental health practitioners who may one day read this entry, the temptation to diagnose me could arise.

It’s worth noting that some of the most judgmental individuals I’ve met, aside from affiliation with religious faiths, has stemmed from those who work within the field of mental, emotional, and behavioral health. I know this seems counterintuitive.

I’m not speaking simply of discernment, as I’m outright referencing the discriminatory behavior I’ve personally witnessed and experienced from practitioners within my field. It’s simple to dismiss someone based on the notion that the person is “crazy.”

Regarding this, I tend to agree with comedian Dave Chappelle, as he’s stated, “The worst thing to call somebody is crazy. It’s dismissive. ‘I don’t understand this person, so they’re crazy.’ That’s bullshit.”

This lazy form of prejudicial treatment functions with a practitioner concluding, “I no longer will engage with Deric, because he’s crazy. Therefore, nothing he has to say has value.” It’s the antithesis of UOA.

It may be tempting for a practitioner to say, “I think Deric is a sociopath,” “He’s a psychopath,” “He has borderline or histrionic personality disorder,” “He’s antisocial,” and so forth and so on. Setting aside ethical considerations regarding such unprofessional scrutiny, I use UOA for these people.

I don’t maintain the irrational belief that others shouldn’t, mustn’t, or oughtn’t to cast perceived diagnoses of me when I’ve already outline the very diagnoses for which I’ve been evaluated by counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Armchair practitioners are going to judge me whether I like it or not.

While I may prefer that others not mischaracterize me, I won’t self-disturb by demanding that they mustn’t. Additionally, suppose I did have some other condition with which these imagined practitioners chose to label me—so what?

I don’t value diagnosis in the way so many others appear to. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, MDD, PTSD, and TBI, though these conditions don’t determine who I am any more than the size of my belly, bumps on my face, or hair on my arms tells you who I am.

Likewise, I don’t use my diagnoses as an excuse for poor behavior, nor do I affirm the self-disturbing and unhealthy behavior of my clients. Rather, I practice USA, promote UOA, and accept that life isn’t perfect (ULA), as well.

None of the matters with which I’ve experienced insecurity define me. Just like the clothes on my body, shoes on my feet, glasses on my head, and smile on my face don’t express who I am, these are mere images which comprise a representation of the self.

I am much more than these simplistic constructs and far different than I’ve thought I was during the most challenging times of my life. Similarly, I’m nowhere near as special as I’ve wanted to be and I’m less important than I give myself credit for.

Finally, the above photo represents my current physique and ongoing progress. Similar to a flawed perspective regarding the dirty mirror that distorts the reflection of my left bicep, my self-image has misrepresented how I actually look.

At 46-years-old and 187 lbs., and with substantial damage to my body throughout the years—some of which is the product of unhealthy nutritional and fitness behavior—it doesn’t matter whether or not I consider myself visually appealing. Also, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not you do.

As imperfect as I’ve always been, and despite the slings and arrows of judgmental critics, I value the meaning of the tattoo that envelopes the entire left side of my body. Though similar quoted renditions are in existence, my ink reflects what USMC General David M. Shoup is credited with having stated:

The galleries are full of critics. They play no ball, they fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down in the arena are the doers. They make mistakes because they try many things. The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and the spirit of adventure. He is the one who never tries anything. His is the brake on the wheel of progress. And yet it cannot be truly said he makes no mistakes, because his biggest mistake is the very fact that he tries nothing, does nothing, except criticize those who do things.


To the reader that made it through this entire post, I thank you for the resource of your time, attention, and consideration. You’ve made it to the end!

There are a number of lessons I wish to convey in regards to all I’ve written herein. Reader, if you learn only one of these key points, my efforts will not have been in vain—though it is with expressed caution that nothing stated in this post is intended to serve as a mental health intervention strategy.

Lesson 1:

At this time, take a moment to reflect upon what you initially believed about my self-image when looking at the first photograph for this blogpost. Can you accurately recall your initial perception?

If you wrote down your pre-blogpost interpretation, now is the time to jot down your post-blog entry assessment results. Was there any change in your perspective after reading what I’ve stated herein?

I’ve likely inundated you with so much noise—in the form of definitions, anecdotes, photographs, and logical concepts—that it may be challenging to recall what you primarily believed about my self-image. Maybe you originally concluded, “This guy looks full of himself.”

Though, after meandering through the process of my mind in written form, you no longer think that I’m conceited. Perhaps due to the curse of knowledge, once you know something based on knowledge of a topic, it’s virtually infeasible to forget what you now know.

You may now look at the photo and think, “Deric posted a photo of himself without hair on his head, with short fingernails, and hairy arms—all things about which he’s struggled with in relation to his self-image. For the majority of his life, he’s been insecure about these features.”

Knowing this at present, it’s probable that your initial attitude about the first picture doesn’t match your current understanding about me. This is the essence of the axiom “don’t judge a book by its cover,” because you may never know about the contents of a person’s mind based solely on external appearance.

Lesson 2:

The title of this post is Self-Image—not Societal-Image, Collective-Image, Group-Image, or My-Concept-Of-Self-Is-Anything-Other-Than-My-Responsibility-Image. Matters discussed herein do not relate to activistic measures geared towards changing external life so that one’s internal existence may be pacified.

If your mental, emotional, and behavioral realm is virtually uninhabitable—due mainly to your belief about what ought to be while rejecting what actually is—there is no rational reason to make the rest of the world unfit for living as a result. You don’t have to make your problem everyone else’s issue.

Instead, you can take personal responsibility for your Consequences and remain accountable to the condition you’ve created by your Belief about the Actions you experience. For the longest time, I didn’t know this invaluable lesson.

I lived in misery attributed to my attitude about life. Placing conditions on myself, such as the REBT three musts that hold us back—“I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy”—never served me well. In fact, I doubt they also serve you in any meaningful way.

My self-image isn’t yours, nor does it have much to do with you. Because I can’t control the world around me, and given that I have little influence over others, I assume command over the sole element of life over which I have any actual authority—myself.

The same lesson applies to you. You don’t need a trendy activistic movement to make excuses for why you are as you are. Take charge of your own life and if you don’t like the Consequences of your Beliefs, change your outlook until your self-image is “good enough.”

Lesson 3:

The significance of USA, UOA, and ULA cannot be understated. Even if it is true that person X is five feet tall and weighs 400 lbs., this individual can lead a decent life—although one in which physiological complications relating to this size may prove challenging.

Using USA, person X could reason:

Although I wish I weighed less, I’m unwilling to implement meaningful changes which could help me lose weight. Therefore, I unconditionally accept myself as I am and will no longer self-disturb about my body image, because if I were truly dedicated to promoting self-transformation I would take physical steps necessary for change.

Using UOA, person X could conclude:

Though I’d prefer that others treat me better, no one is obligated to interact with me in the manner I want them to. Hence, I unconditionally accept others as they are—just as I’d like them to accept me as I am and even though they won’t acquiesce to my desire for better treatment.

Using ULA, person X could believe:

While I’d like for life to go according to my plan, in all honesty, the universe never really has abided to the rigid expectations I place upon it. Thus, I unconditionally accept life for all its imperfections, just as I am worthy of self-acceptance as a fallible being.

Lesson 4:

Throughout this lengthy blogpost, I’ve used “psychoeducation,” which is a way of providing information and support for people to better understand and cope with mental illness. However, since my blog isn’t intended to substitute or augment therapy, I’ve simply addressed issues as they concern my personal experience.

What information the reader gleans from this post, and what support is perceived, is subjective and will hopefully benefit you in some way. I’ve deliberately used repetition as a tool to assist the reader with synthesis of the concepts addressed herein.

For example, if I ask you to describe the ABC Model, you may be able to do so after having read the reiterated concept herein. You probably understand that an Action occurs, you Believe something about it, and your belief is what causes the Consequence.

Likewise, you likely understand how USA, UOA, and ULA can serve an individual by rejection of rigid conditions and through tolerance and acceptance of matters over which one has no control and little influence.

Using my own life, and with many examples, I’ve illustrated REBT concepts herein. Consideration of how I once disturbed myself and how I’d approach matters differently, if given the opportunity, can have an impact on how I handle similar events in the future.

As such, the main objective of this blogpost is to convey concrete lessons from which the reader may learn. It is up to you as to whether you use this information, reject it, or do otherwise.

Lesson 5:

Self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-love, self-identity, self-image, or however one chooses to frame the topic addressed in this blogpost, is an iss-ME, not an iss-YOU. It’s your shit to deal with, not everyone else’s burden.

Simply because person X experiences discomfort while obese doesn’t mean the world owes this individual a damn thing. Person X’s self-image is affected by the Bullshit believed about an Action that leads to unpleasant Consequences.

This doesn’t require societal change so that people may feel better about themselves. Rather, these people can take the proper steps to get better, which requires individual change.

Taking personal ownership of your shit—and not shoulding on yourself, others, and all over the world—is a healthy approach to resolving a messy situation. After all, what person X eats doesn’t make me shit. Likewise, what person X believes isn’t my issue to resolve.

Dear reader, are you prepared to deal with your own shit? Has your self-image—the beliefs you’ve maintained about yourself—created unnecessary suffering?

Would you like to know more about the REBT method and how to get out of your own way, rather than using illogical, irrational, and self-disturbing narratives which don’t serve you well? There is hope available, though it will take a lot of effort, discomfort, commitment, and discipline to achieve success.

Are you truly ready to take the necessary steps to get better? As indicated throughout this blogpost, I’m not a psychotherapist who has simply read a book or two, watched a seminar or a few, or learned about self-image through the capture of the peer review process.

While my experience may not adequately reflect yours, I’m not ignorant about how unhelpful and unhealthy beliefs with which we disturb ourselves can be. So…are you ready to deal with your shit while being guided by someone who actually understands?

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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