Being in therapy was one of the best gifts I could give myself. I mean I waited twenty years to do it (once during the pandemic and once after it) and I gained so much awareness from it. It was very hard for me to admit that I had a problem. Very difficult to come to terms with that I needed professional help. Especially since I am a therapist. Therapists are supposed to have the tools to help themselves. However, we are also human. We deal with our own internal struggles and some of them more than we can bear. I know I put so much pressure on myself to figure it out that I did myself a disservice. I am glad I was able to get back to me and learn so much from getting therapy for myself.
I recently received EMDR for a traumatic childhood experience. I wanted something that was evidence-based that didn’t require me to talk through the gruesome details of the trauma (although I did anyway). The therapist was a good fit (much younger than I) but a great sounding board for me since we also ended up having discussion on my current life issues. I felt safe with her and comfortable sharing very intimate personal struggles and it was nice to have someone listen to me for a change. I also helped that she was a person of color because that made me feel more comfortable. I gained so much awareness about my struggles that I could not have gained on my own.
Here are things I learned from being on the “other side of the desk” for six months in therapy:
I engage in self-sabotage without even knowing it.
My self-sabotage does not come in the form of outward behaviors but moreso internally through negative intrusive thoughts and over-thinking. I believe things aren’t true due to lacking self-confidence. Despite my best efforts, the thoughts remain but one important change has been that I no longer believe them or allow myself to succumb to them so easily. Most of the time, the thoughts just roll off my back and I am far more resilient than I used to be.
I need to be kinder to myself.
I am not kind enough to myself and don’t give myself enough grace. Last night I had an intrusive thought and instead of beating myself up, I recognized that the thought was not only untrue but that I needed to stop punishing myself for it. I was able to rebound much more quickly than I usually do because of changing my perspective.
My inner voice needs some work.
My inner critic which is harsh and diminishing needed to find a positive role-model to copy. My therapist worked with me for months on identifying a fictitious figure that could talk back to my inner voice and I couldn’t come up with anyone to be that person. The closest I came up with was God and although I have heard his voice on other situations, I wasn’t hearing him so much with this one. Or maybe I wasn’t letting him in because I wanted to maintain full control. Either way, I needed to create a voice outside of my own that could talk to me when the intrusive thoughts started to pour in.
I need to let go of some of that control.
Some of the control I was holding onto needed to be relinquished. Even though God is in the driver seat of my life, I sometimes play backseat driver. The amount of control I am holding onto was causing me to slowly die on the inside when things don’t go my way. When I listened to a recent episode of a podcast called the Soul Synergy Experience by Lu Camy she talks about ”how expectations puts us in a position of powerlessness and how the external will never conform to an expectation.” Expectations ruin the vision of what your life could be like, leading to frustration. Expectations come from the ego and when you allow yourself to be free from the idea of what your life should be like is when you experience true freedom. I think that releasing control is going to be the hardest thing for me to do but I recognize being in complete control of everything is the main reason why I have anxiety. True freedom comes from relinquishing the control that your expectations have over you. For me, this is my path to inner peace.
What do you have to lose from changing your mindset? Thoughts are connected to feelings which can influence your actions. It starts from what you think. If you need help changing this, get a therapist. I don’t think getting a therapist is a decision that many regret. They may regret the therapist they chose (perhaps it wasn’t a good fit) but they did gain insight as to the type of therapist they needed, which was valuable information. If you don’t get the ‘right fit’ the first time, don’t give up. There is so much to gain from having a therapist, even the wrong one. Even though I know I was fortunate in getting the right fit twice, I recognize it can be hard to want to keep going when you don’t get the right therapist for you the first couple of times you seek out therapy. But as one client to the next, you must understand that when you do get that therapist who is a good fit for you, it can be life changing!
I hope this read was a good one for you. I like talking to myself but would prefer some genuine feedback about my blog posts or maybe what you would like me to write about next. I am open to suggestions and welcome any changes you would like me to make. In the meantime, enjoy “Juneteenth month” as I would like to call it and make it a great one!
Love and light,