Why I decided to go?
It's one of those things that I always knew would benefit my mental health, but I just kept putting it off and putting it off. I've always been quite an introspective person and I got to the point where I was finding it difficult to regulate my emotions properly. The smallest things would trigger me, and I would be upset about it for hours and I didn't really know why. In addition to this, I grew up in a household with an alcoholic parent and it was very chaotic. I knew I held a lot of traumas from this that were unexplored and unprocessed, and it didn’t feel quite right. I felt that I was holding a lot in and not really being true to myself. So one day, I just went for it...
How long have I been in therapy?
I’ve been in therapy for 4 years now (which actually feels crazy to say out loud). I took a break for a year in between and I am back in therapy now (and proud!).
What did I learn in therapy?
1. I really got to know myself on a deeper level
I got to know myself on a deeper level, which I didn’t even know was possible. I learned all the things that make me happy, what relationships I found fulfilling and just generally what brings me joy. On the flip side, I also learned what makes me sad – specifically what emotionally triggers me and what relationships were making me particularly unhappy.
I also learned that I was in desperate need of feeling heard, understood, and held. Therapy offered me a sacred space to initiate the healing that has resulted in me living life more authentically and with more confidence. I truly believe that life is what you make of it and the more you get to know yourself better, the easier life will be for you.
2. I unearthed all childhood memories
We talked a lot about childhood memories, specifically the ones that were particularly harmful to my sense of self-worth. Just a side note, you don’t have to explore these memories if you don’t feel ready to. I just knew I wanted to, so we did. We talked a lot about what I could remember, who was involved and how these memories made me feel. This helped me process my trauma properly in a professional environment and I learned the different ways it affected my behaviours now as an adult.
I’ll give you an example of this. Growing up, arguments and emotionally charged conflicts were just the norm in my household. As a result, I lived in a heightened state of stress and hypervigilance. Trauma leads your brain to be on constant lookout for physical and/or relational danger. This constant hypervigilance can be incredibly exhausting. As an adult, I find myself constantly de-coding people’s expressions, tone of voice and over-analysing everything because it gives me a sense of control. Along with this, I am hyper-sensitive to people’s criticism because I lived with a deep sense of unworthiness and low self-esteem. Fun times for me eh? The good thing is therapy gave me the space to understand this on a deeper level. The more I was given the space to freely explore and talk about my life events, the more I was able to understand about my learned behaviours from childhood and be able to look at things differently.
3. It's ok to not have everything figured out right now...
We live in a world where we are relentlessly chasing the next best thing because we think it will bring us happiness. Statements like ‘I’ll be happy when I get my dream job/find a partner/have children/move to another country/start my own business/start a hobby/buy a house/re-do the kitchen” – the list just goes on and on and on. Am I right?
Along with this comes this persistent need to have everything figured out and all questions answered right away. The reality of life is that things don’t work quite like that. Important decisions take time to figure out and that is okay. It’s perfectly fine to not have all the answers right now. Therapy helped me get more comfortable with the notion of not knowing and just chilling with life. It taught me to be gentle with myself and allow time to process life events without constantly chasing answers or goals. In conclusion, just chill the f*ck out, things will become clearer in due time.
4. When you are worried about people's judgements, focus on judging yourself less
This one was a big one for me. I used to be really worried about what people think of me, my decisions, my choices, the way I live my life etc. Letting go of those judgements were difficult. I still struggle now from time to time. But it really helped knowing that whenever I worried about people judging me, it is because I was unconsciously judging myself.
To put it simply, people will have a lot of sh*t to say about everything. But nothing others say or do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their dreams, their beliefs, and their experiences. Therapy allows this to sink in on a different level; once this really hits home you will let go of the weight of other people’s opinions and worry more about your own. After all, this is your life to live, not theirs.
5. It’s ok to embrace change
The older you get; the chances are things in your life will change. Your friends, your job, your beliefs, your relationships and what matters to you will evolve and transform as you mature and reach new levels of self-development.
The problem is we are creatures of habit and sometimes change can feel incredibly scary and anxiety provoking. However, it’s ok to change. Change is good and sometimes can be a catalyst to level-up your life. You deserve the life you wish to live and changes in circumstances can often be a step closer to that space.