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People on know how important therapy is. Here are some things they learned during their own sessions:
1. Bad things happen in our lives every day. Most of them are unavoidable. That’s life. Rather than burning yourself out working to avoid bad things from happening, teach yourself resilience – how you experience, process, accept, recover, and move on from bad things. The better you get at being resilient, the less time you spend being anxious and depressed about a bad situation or potentially bad situation. Not only this, resilience is inspiring. If your kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, etc, notice how quickly you bounce back from a bad situation, it will spread positivity.
2. My therapist and I were discussing how I felt about a pretty deep betrayal from my now ex-wife. I was beating myself up for not seeing how bad she really was when there was plenty of evidence. He wrote down something on his yellow notepad and then held it up right in my face, practically touching my nose.
He said, “What’s that say?”
I couldn’t read it; it was too close to my face. Stepping back from it a bit, it could read it said, “You’re too close to see it.” He was right. I was too close to the problems and the situation to have been able to see it where in retrospect it was so obvious. I stopped beating myself up over it and was able to let it go.
3. “Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed.”
Inaction is a form of paralysis. Do something, even if it isn’t everything an adult human in perfect condition in ideal circumstances would do. I should go to the gym 3x a week and get back into the shape I was in when I was a dancer. I don’t do that. I do take my dog on long walks, though, and that’s better than sitting on the couch all day!
4. Worrying about something that might happen just makes you miserable. Its great to have a contingency plan, but dont spend all your energy worrying about something that might never happen, just deal with it if it happens.
5. I’m not required to forgive anyone, especially from abuse. I can if I want to and it works for me but if I don’t feel forgiving then I don’t have to.
6. Try to find something you enjoy every day. Even if it’s something small like taking a hot shower or going for a walk. If you start feeling down, you can think about what you enjoyed from that day, and recognize that you’ve done something nice for yourself.
7. I had issues getting motivated for pretty much anything, even my hobbies. She told me that even doing nothing is a conscious desicion, it is not something that just happens, I made that choice and I will need to decide it every day for the rest of my life.
It’s a rather simple thought but it completely changed me. Basically gave me back control. I always ask myself stuff like, “Do I really want to sit on my couch and watch YouTube the whole Saturday?” And the answer is almost always, “no,” so I go out and ride my bike or meet up with friends. Really helped me, just the simple task of questioning what you want to do with your time and making it a conscious decision.
8. If you don’t heal from what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people that didn’t cut you.
9. “You aren’t obligated to have a relationship with anyone.” Helped me realize that I could walk away from toxic relationships, romantic or otherwise.
10. My most recent therapist said, “Productivity does not equal worth or value.” In regards to people feeling like just because we’re home all the time during the pandemic, we should be doing stuff for and in the home (cleaning, hobbies, renovations, etc). And then feeling badly that we don’t have the energy for those things. I’ve been reminding myself of her words every time I feel like I should be doing this or that. She says that relaxation is its own productivity.
11. “Your bad feelings are hard enough – don’t punish yourself on top of that for feeling bad.” Helped with self-harm, and depression spirals.
12. I don’t owe the world anything, but the world doesn’t owe me anything either.
13. It’s not your job to manage other people’s emotions. It’s not your job to anticipate their every need before they vocalize it. Let people do their own thing, if they need help they will ask, and if they don’t ask then that’s one less ask to stress about.
14. Would you say the things you say to yourself in your head to your best friend?
Would you tell your best friend that they are a pathetic loser that will never accomplish anything and nobody likes them and they should just go ahead and off themselves to make everyone’s lives better?
Well, no. I would never say that to my best friend…
So why was I saying it to **myself**?
15. While my marriage was imploding, I was so hung up on figuring out why. Hours spent every night trying to fall asleep and instead trudging over past arguments trying to get to a “fixable” cause.
My therapist simply stated, “You don’t need to figure it out. Just accept it.”
It was like a 10,000 lb bolder was lifted from my shoulders.
16. A healthy relationship has boundaries that are respected. If this guy you are with loves you, he’ll respect that you aren’t ready and he won’t complain about it. If he does, then he’s not a good partner.
17. “You can’t forget, and you won’t forget. We can’t get rid of every emotion that hurts like jelaousy, anger, sadness. What’s important here is getting the skills to understand these things, feel them, and find happiness after.”
18. “If you have to eat a shit sandwich, you pick the toppings that come on it.” It was disheartening hearing at first, but it validated how I was feeling and gave me a good visual to see that even if things suck there are things I can control to make it better.
19. “Maybe you can treat yourself like a person and not like a project.” It changed my life. I’d been treating myself like something to fix, and seeing every little problem as evidence that I was a failure and a terrible person. I learned to give myself the same benefit of the doubt as I’d give any other human I met on the street. Humans make mistakes, including me—that doesn’t mean there’s issues to fix, it means I’m a person.
20. You don’t want your life to be exciting. You want it to be boring. Excitement sounds like fun but your mental health pays for it. So do exciting things. Be excited. But live a “boring” life so you don’t careen from disaster to disaster.
21. Any emotion that you have, whether positive or negative, is just an extension of yourself.
For me, it was my anger. I would have moments where I was aware I was out of control but didn’t know how to stop it. So she told me to think of my anger as my literal hand. I control my hand. I have the autonomy to make my hand stop doing what I want it to do. My hand does not control me.
It was very effective in those moments where I would feel my anger taking over me to just quite literally look at my hand and remember I am in control.
22. I was freaking out about things that COULD happen, and he simply asked me, “So what would you do if that happened?” It sounds super simple, and it is, but it helped me realize I have solutions to problems that MIGHT arise. I shouldn’t let fear stop me from doing things that would be beneficial or enjoyable.
23. Being called selfish is a form of control.
24. Take one day off a week. Completely off. No work. No “projects.” No plans. Wake up with nothing on the agenda.
Someone giving me permission to do nothing was pretty revolutionary for someone coming from a protestant hardwork ethic upbringing that villianized relaxation as idleness/laziness. She was not just giving me permission, she was insisting on it as imperative to my health and well-being.
25. It’s okay to cry and don’t hold shit in.
26. I don’t remember the exact wording, but my psychiatrist told me years ago that bad things that happened in my life weren’t because I deserved them. The bad things happened to me because they were going to happen and I just happened to be there. They could have happened to anyone else instead of me, but it wasn’t because God hated me that they happened.
For me, I struggled for years thinking that everything that happened to me was my fault and just what I deserved. That if something good happened it was an accident and would be reversed soon enough. He gave me the knowledge that sometimes shitty things just happen.
27. If you approach someone with good intentions and they react in a negative way, that is a reflection of themselves and not you.
28. “So what?”
I really struggled with a negative core belief that I wasn’t good enough or worthy of the friends I had. My therapist said, “Alright, let’s say then that a friend decides they don’t like you for who you are – so what?”
It has really helped me to accept that I’m actually great, I don’t need to be anyone other than who I am to please other people.
29. “You have to learn to forgive yourself.”
30. “You have always been you, you were just never allowed to be yourself and were suppressed.”