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The idea of going to therapy has become taboo.
But the more I have had to revisit it as a mandatory part of self-growth and training, the more I realize that it is invaluable.
What has become apparent to me over the last few years is that, literally, everyone would benefit from it in some way.
Even those who seem successful, happy, and carefree. We all have blindspots, subconscious prejudices, and things that trigger unhealthy reactions within us.
We all have things about ourselves that we could improve. We have all developed different personalities and views from our mixtures of genetic makeup and experiences (nature and nurture combined).
Some are lucky and naturally navigate adverse situations without much difficulty. They may be lucky and come armed with good coping mechanisms, problem-solving skills, self-esteem, and supportive people guiding them. But that still doesn’t mean they are perfect and don’t have reactions or views which people around them find difficult. Even they would still benefit from exploring where things come from and making small changes.
All of us are a little screwed up, whether we realize it or not. This isn’t a negative thing; it’s life. It’s growing, being human, and experiencing the good and the bad. There is always room for growth and bettering ourselves.
It is likely that, if you think you have nothing you could improve on, you might be in more need than you realize.
Research from Mind.UK shows us that 1 in 4 people experience some form of mental health issues every year. That is 25 percent of us!
I think the number is far higher than this. There isn’t a single person I can think of who has never experienced anxiety, depression, or mental health difficulty at some point in their life.
In America, it seems more socially acceptable to be seeing a counselor. Perhaps this is due to a much more positive representation of it on TV?
Over here, people I come across (including myself in the past) feel ashamed for seeing somebody and reluctant to do so when they desperately need it. They are shamed for seeking support and wanting to become a better version of themselves. They feel shame for wanting guidance to navigate life’s many challenges. To me, this seems mad. Surely it should be something to be proud of? It’s incredible to be wise enough to actively partake in something that has the potential to better your life.
The definition of insanity, according to Einstein, is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
If you continuously come across the same problems, then do something about it.
Do something different—increase your chances of a better result. Even having a rigid or narrow mindset can be problematic when you face situations that challenge your world view. Look at all of the recent Black Lives Matter protests and different people’s reactions to this.
It is okay to struggle with inner demons, intrusive thoughts, your past, relationships, work, day-to-day life, or simply life in general.
What is crazy (and not okay) is suffering in silence. Seeking help from the right kind of support can be the most worthwhile and transformative thing you ever do.
Don’t be discouraged if you have tried therapy in the past and had a bad experience. I first sought treatment at 19, when I desperately needed it, and one session with a bad therapist put me off for the next five years.
Looking back, it makes me sad because if I had realized that it’s okay to try a few different therapists, many of the issues that plagued me could have been better.
It took me several different therapists until I found someone who I felt happy talking to and could work with. It was a long time of suffering from poor mental health before I was brave enough to try again. Also, a good counselor will not take it personally. If you feel like they aren’t a good fit for you, it doesn’t make you a bad person.
We all seek therapy for different reasons. The therapeutic relationship underpins your progression and change, strongly—the person we choose must be someone we trust, like, and feel understood by.
Another important point to remember is that if you have a lot of inner pain, shame, hurt, trauma, or generally some deep-rooted emotional history to work through, it will take time. It will feel difficult and painful to work through (initially).
It is common for people to seek therapy and claim it made them worse. But all therapy is likely to make you feel worse while you uncover the wounds that have been buried. It has to hurt before you can heal and feel better.
Like a physical wound, if you are impatient and don’t take the appropriate steps to heal it fully, it will take longer. Many of us bear scars from the physical and emotional difficulties that we have navigated. This is a part of being human and living life; none of us get through life without scars.
But, we can all take steps to ensure we heal properly. A good counselor may challenge you or say things that make you question yourself, but this should not be seen as a bad thing. If they are working with our best interest at heart, then we must trust them.
In summary, it is not only “crazy” people who can benefit from therapy.
In fact, people who suffer from psychosis or psychological difficulties (what we might associate with the rather unkind word “crazy”) require medical intervention and medical treatment. They are simply unwell, and this would primarily be treated the same as any pathological illness—by a doctor.
Counseling is for everybody. Yes, it is a service for those who are physically unwell to turn to as well. But finding an unbiased, empathic, nonjudgmental individual will facilitate positive growth in anybody. It is worth investing in ourselves and overcoming inner conflict, pain, and difficulties.
Life is a beautiful but hard thing to navigate. If we can learn to understand ourselves (and one another), identify how to improve, adapt, and accept, we will be a world of much happier humans.