To put it simply, therapy changed my life. I’ll start off by saying that I don’t currently see a therapist. I did for awhile about 4 years ago and it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
I initially began going to therapy because I felt off. I stopped wanting to get out of bed, stopped wanting to be around people, started pushing my friends away, and was pretty much consumed by my depression. I wasn’t right, but I wanted to be and I knew I needed help. I needed someone to help me see things more clearly and I needed a new perspective.
1. sometimes optimism isn’t enough
Before you say: “well, you just have to be positive and optimistic. That’s all it is!” No, it’s not. Trust me, I’ve had certified therapists and psychiatrist tell me that it’s not. Therapy isn’t just for people who have gone through something traumatic. It’s for everyone. Everyone dealing with stress or anxiety. If you ask me, anyone breathing right now deals with stress and anxiety and being positive doesn’t somehow just make all of that go away. Are you high strung? Do you always need to be in control? Do you dislike confrontation? Do you feel like you’re usually right and other people need to do things your way? Are you sad for no reason sometimes? Do you feel hopeless? Do you get really angry over small things? Do you have trouble expressing yourself without offending people? Do you feel uncomfortable when you’re not in the drivers seat? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might benefit from speaking to a therapist!
My point is that no matter where you are in life, therapy can be super helpful and you don’t need to have a severe mental health condition to benefit from it.
Now, what did therapy do for me?
2. try to understand where people are coming from
well, it completely changed the way I see things. Before, I jumped to conclusions and I assumed things. I assumed I knew what other people felt and I assumed they were just being jerks when they acted out or said something offensive. Now, rather than jumping to conclusions and getting really angry I try to stop my thoughts and understand why a person is choosing to respond to me the way they are. Could there be something else happening in their lives stressing them out? How can I put myself in their shoes and try to understand what they’re dealing with? Is there a way for me to respond and try to help them understand where I’m coming from?
Maybe all of that makes me sound like I’m full of shit. I promise, I’m not. I’m big on telling people how I feel. Ask anyone, I’m extremely passionate, sometimes overwhelmingly so. I can harp on something for hours if you let me. Want to talk about inequality or racism? I will literally sit there and debate about it for a day (although it’s not a debate, that stuff is wrong and stupid and if you can’t see that, then BYE). ANYWAY, that’s me sometimes. I recognize that many people are uncomfortable with it. I work on my approach everyday and I’ve learned that well, some people just won’t understand me. Some people just don’t want to put themselves in my shoes or concern themselves with how their actions make me feel and that’s okay.
3. don’t apologize for feeling
I’ll never apologize for how I feel because it’s something I can’t control. Therapy helped me see that. I learned that: no I can’t control how I’m feeling, but I CAN control how I deal with my feelings. I CAN control how I approach people who hurt me. I CAN wait until my anger subsides and have a civil conversation. THIS has kept me from being overly emotional, from crying and getting upset with people instead of telling them how I feel.
Something else I learned? A LOT of people are uncomfortable with feelings. There are people who act as though expressing how they make you feel is a weakness or dramatic. Guess what? they should probably be in therapy and figure that shit out (lol).
There’s nothing wrong with telling people how you feel. Just, you know, try not be a jerk when you’re doing it. And most importantly, remember that when you express your feelings, you can’t go into it expecting a specific response and you can’t get angry when you don’t get the response you want. Express your feelings for your own sake, to get them off your chest. Not to hurt others or to try to make them feel badly. My goal is always to let the person know how I feel and when/if they’re ready to acknowledge my feelings they will and should they respond negatively, that’s on them.
4. be nice
Last but no least, I learned how important and EASY it is to be nice. Try to understand where other people are coming from. We all have a different experience, we come into each others lives and we make an impact, we change each others perspectives, help each other grow, etc. Be cool with it. Try to release control (it feels really good). Most importantly, be nice to yourself. Be mindful of who you allow into your life and who you let fill up your headspace. Sometimes even the people closest to you aren’t the nicest people. Too often do we allow family members and friends to put their fears onto us or let their opinions or remarks affect how we feel about ourselves. In times like that, remember to not only be kind to them, but remove yourself from a situation that doesn’t make you feel good and hope that eventually they’ll understand why you did it (after you’ve tried to explain why of course, don’t just drop people like flies…that ain’t cool).
P.S. I’m not perfect (a total work in progress). Also, I’m not a professional, this is just my personal experience as is everything else in this blog!
with love & gratitude,