Hear me out.
I wish someone would have told me I didn’t have to wait until everything fell apart to get a therapist.
I wish someone would have told me childhood and living and being human is hard, and we all end up with some wounds and scars. And that I could have someone show me how to not carry them anymore.
I wish someone would have told me the strongest, wisest people have therapists.
I wish someone would have told me I could have a life of health and boundaries and peace and calm, and it wasn’t something just for other people.
I wish someone would have said there’s nothing wrong with therapy, that it should be just as common as getting your teeth cleaned every six months and your annual physical.
I wish someone would have told me.
So I’m telling you.
If you only do one thing differently this year, I hope it’s read your Bible every day, but a close second would be to find a good therapist and stay put for the year. See what twelve months of hard work can do for your life. I think it will shock you.
The warning everyone should have is it will seem easy and fun in the beginning; you’re telling your new therapist all the people who are horrible to you, all the people who have wronged you or do hurtful things. You’ll have a list of all the ways people abuse you, all the ways people have let you down or betrayed you.
But then something shifts. After a few sessions, your therapist digs past the other people and it’s your turn. You have to stop being the victim. You have to stop being the bystander. You have to stop being the only one who hasn’t done anything wrong.
Most people quit therapy around this point.
It’s fine when we’re talking about everyone else and how the majority of our problems are because of someone else. But then our therapist starts asking questions that are a little too close to home.
Why is that a pattern you fall into even though you know the outcome won’t change?
Why can’t you stand up to him?
What was behind your angry response?
Why do you feel like you have to control this?
What are you afraid of?
What happened to your heart all those years ago?
And a million other questions that you don’t really want to answer because it was a whole lot easier when this was everyone else’s fault but yours.
You’ll learn a lot of words in therapy: co-dependency, enabling, emotional abuse, neglect, addiction, coping mechanisms, avoidance, family cycles, anxiety, bipolar, manipulation, depression, safe people, boundaries, gas lighting, breathing techniques, patterns, rewiring your brain, narcissism, recovery, shame, victim mentality, self-esteem.
You think you know what these words mean, but suddenly they’re real for your life and your brain, and you’ve got someone who can help you process, heal, and thrive in the midst of them.
You will love therapy. It will be the hardest, most challenging work you do, but it will be good and restorative too. You know the phrase “hurts so good”? That’s therapy.
Therapy will make you gentler and kinder with yourself and with others. As you begin to see yourself clearer, you’ll see others with better eyes too. You’ll see behavior as pain, you’ll see reactions as wounds. You’ll see the healthy people in your life and you’ll be draw to them, because they are safe and they help you be your best self.
Therapy doesn’t have to be forever. There will be seasons, there will be years, for therapy and help and learning. Then there will be progress and growing in seasons on your own. Therapy isn’t a life sentence or a punishment. For me–and possibly you–it could be the key to a lot of freedom and a way to stop carrying heavy things you weren’t made to carry.
Once you tackle the hard work of therapy, you’ll become good at self-monitoring, and you’ll know when you need to be back in for some work and when you’re doing well.
Therapy resets our mental health meter and helps us keep things in check. Therapy guides us to a healthy place so we can better realize when we’re slipping again.
Imagine if you could get to the end of 2019, not with regrets and what-ifs, but mental health and freedom? What if you could get the coping skills to stop avoiding life and instead actively participate in this wild and wonderful place? What if 2019 was the beginning of healing and growth and lightness?
It can be. Absolutely. Find a good therapist.
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