(Because really…I think everybody needs it)
1. Nobody is normal. Seriously. Normal is a myth that is meant to make you feel bad about yourself. A therapist has actually studied human behavior, and can routinely remind you that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist. We are all operating as if the rulebook of whatever dominant culture(s) we belong to is sacrosanct, and that is simply not true. While certain trends and patterns in human behavior are indisputable, we burden ourselves tremendously by constantly comparing ourselves to others. Our level of happiness or contentment depends upon how readily we embrace our own uniqueness, flaws and all.
2. Everybody is crazy. At some point, everyone has done something crazy, or something offensive, regrettable, mean, stupid, reprehensible, illegal, or indicative of one or more mental disorders. Everyone has felt depressed or anxious, or unable to sleep or function or care, at various times in their life. That’s because as humans, we are supposed to be imperfect, flawed, and messy. We all have a freak-flag to fly in some form or another. Therapy is not just for ‘crazy’ people…it is for people who want to grow. And growth is essential for a meaningful life.
3. Pain is inevitable. It’s going to happen. And it is incredibly helpful to have someone to talk to about it. Therapy provides a framework for identifying and processing the terribly uncomfortable emotions that no one wants to feel…but that all of us must learn to manage. To consistently rely upon negative coping mechanisms (denial, avoidance, escape, addiction, to name a few) is to condemn yourself to suffering…or at minimum, being one of those people who wonders ‘Why is this always happening to me?’ As the common denominator, no one can answer that but you. You will not be able to avoid pain in your life…but hopefully, with professional support, you can avoid suffering.
4. Talking feels good. We are verbal, social, emotional creatures. We want to be seen and we want to be known. Many people go through life never knowing what it feels like to have someone really understand them. Hopefully, that is not you…but regardless how much love and support you have in your life, telling your story is cathartic. To say things out loud is powerful. Gaining insight into something from your past, realizing how you’ve grown or matured…these rewards are a product of storytelling. Therapy is an affirming reminder that ultimately, you are the author and creator of your own story.
5. Spare your friends. Another benefit of therapy is getting the objective viewpoint of someone who isn’t a stakeholder in your life. This is not to say that your friends don’t care, or your friends shouldn’t listen to you. By all means, your support system is essential. But your friends are not impartial witnesses to your feelings and your experiences…they care about what you do, and often, their ‘stuff’ gets mixed up in yours. Some may disagree, but I think even friendships have limits. Keeping some of your deepest, darkest details out of your friendships can actually make them better. Let your friends be your friends and your therapist be your therapist.
6. Bootstraps are for boots. And that’s it. We are not designed to pick ourselves up, figure out problems, untangle our dysfunctional family systems, or become successful and healthy on our own. We need help, and we need each other. It is perfectly okay that you cannot figure things out on your own, despite what you may have been taught. Asking for help is not shameful or weak…asking for help is brave. It is a step toward wholeness.
7. Go, Fight, Win! Your therapist (ideally) should challenge, question, push, and poke at you…but it should be in the context of a safe and supportive environment. When we are attempting to change an ingrained pattern or get through a rough patch in our lives, we need a cheerleader. We need to be inspired and encouraged. This is an integral part of the therapeutic process. When life is getting you down, your therapist is a person who holds a space for hope, and tells you it is going to be okay. And you know what? It will.
8. A Mechanic for your Life. Therapy is like a garage filled with tools for you to use in whatever way you need…is it a tune-up, or a complete engine overhaul? The versatility of therapy is something that makes it a universally helpful service. Many people find themselves overwhelmed by a current stressor, situation, or loss; they benefit from having short-term, intensive therapy for a few months or a year. Once they have adjusted, they are able to move on. For many others, having a lasting therapeutic relationship is what they truly want. As with other long-term relationships, having someone who has seen you through the good and the bad, watched you grow, and helped you through a range of life events is priceless. It is impossible to have that relationship without investing the time and commitment it needs. The same is true for your life. Therapy itself allows for multiple uses and experiences, but at its core, it is an investment you make in yourself.
Are you ready to see how therapy can help you? Contact me today!
Don’t live in Seattle? I recommend the following online therapist directories: