Are you thinking about therapy? Did you grow up thinking that there’s something wrong with you. Your parents sometimes treat you in rude and disrespectful ways and they later explain that they are overwhelmed or tired or they blame it on you. You learn to accept that being treated badly is okay because someone apologizes at the end (at best) or blames you for their bad moods so it’s on you, not them. You strive for their love, they’re your parents, right? And you go throughout your childhood learning that love means making others happy at your expense. Love also means being ridiculed or minimized. Love means proving it through actions that involve praise. Like being perfect. It’s conditional love.
You constantly find yourself in situations throughout your life where you feel the same way- unheard, misinterpreted, rejected, criticized, undervalued and you suffer trying to figure out why. You don’t realize that this is an issue, remember that you were told by parents, teachers, friends, lovers that there is some other problem going on. Someone recommends therapy and you wonder to yourself if talking to someone about these situations would even help. Some people are able to talk about their feelings with others and get advice and still feel crappy while others go through life suffering in silence.
You give it a go and meet with a therapist. For the first time maybe, someone listens to you tell your story without interrupting you, without judgment, without offering unsolicited advice. Someone unbiased because the therapist doesn’t know your social circle or can vouch for them over you. Instead, the therapist is informed. She is trained professionally through years upon years of learning the root causes of this suffering and will continue to learn about different treatments and theories until retirement (this is an obligation of continuing education). She is informed through her own life experiences that brought her to study psychology to help others relieve themselves from the agony of being misunderstood and unloved.
While you talk with your therapist, conversations that seem light at times or super deep all have meaning and she is connecting dots for you to gain awareness (insight), empowerment (self-worth), and a plan to make it better (efficacy). Maybe you start to feel better because, in this cocoon, there is some level of understanding that you haven’t felt in a while. Maybe even excited that life could be different after all.
Then. It hits you.
If life can different and it wasn’t your fault as a child, and as an adult, you have been part of this all along, you have to really take a good hard look at what’s been done to you. Anger hits. Anxiety hits. Sadness hits. You think therapy isn’t working. It’s uncomfortable to make positive shifts in your life if you feel you deserve to have a life full of pain.
But. This is the moment when the shift begins to happen. It is very uncomfortable to change. Our bodies like homeostasis. Our minds hold on to the familiar even if the familiar is toxic. Our friends and family like us just as we were because our state before served everyone a purpose. But. Our bodies and minds are malleable. There is neuroplasticity. There is learning new habits, observing when the old ones creep up and making an informed choice (mindfulness) instead of unconsciously going through life repeating it over and again. Friends and family who see you placing boundaries, taking care of your self, will feel their discomfort and try to bring you back perhaps not always maliciously, but to keep you in the loop. Therapy helps you find the inner strength to choose you over your past. To honor you over your mistakes and learn from them. To love you even when you were told you were despicable. And all of this occurs once a week in conversations in therapy.