“Therapy doesn’t work.”
“How long will you rely on someone else to solve your problems for you?”
“Going to therapy is admitting weakness, and giving someone else control over your life.”
All of these things, and more, have been said to me at some point in my life. It annoys me even now to think about it. I resisted therapy for a long time, not because I didn’t believe in its effectiveness, but for the simple reason that it is hard.
Despite what many people may think, going to therapy is not a magical cure that suddenly renders all our issues solved. Psychologists are not there to tell us what to do or how to live. They are there as objective mirrors that, hopefully, guide us to the path that is best for us. They do not choose the path, or force us down it, they assist us in discovering it for ourselves. We put in the work, we choose how committed we are to the process, and we are the ones in control.
Anyone that has seriously undergone any type of therapy knows that it takes great personal strength to go and sit in a room with someone else and take a long, honest look at yourself. Many people try, and fail. I know I did for a long time.
When things finally began to click for me in therapy I realized how much those flippant comments had really affected me. How, unconsciously, I had taken them in and allowed them to shape how I viewed and engaged in my sessions. It saddens me to think of how many people try therapy and stop, before it can really become helpful, because of similar reasons.
As I slowly began to let go of self-stigma and the beliefs that others have about seeking professional help, wonderful things started to happen. Not only did I start to feel in control of my life, but I also came to realize just how much power I actually have over my mind and the lies it tells me.
I also discovered that if it was going to be a beneficial process for me I had to be dedicated to it, and to being open with myself even when it’s uncomfortable. After all, therapy doesn’t work if you don’t.
One of the most important things about therapy, for me, was simply being heard. When we feel like someone is listening, really listening, without judgement, only then can we begin to heal. We feel validated in a positive way, and we realize that our thoughts and emotions and behaviours do matter. It’s a transformative thing to feel.
Admitting you need help is neither easy nor weak, it is the exact opposite. Committing yourself to working on your problems is difficult, and requires bravery and perseverance. In my experience though, it’s worth it. Choosing to take back control over your life is an intoxicating thing – in the best possible way.