I often hear people I meet in public make comments such as, “Yeah, plenty of crazy people to keep you in business.” It is obvious that people really don’t mean any harm in making these comments, however, it only stigmatizes what can be very healing and powerful.
Almost daily, I am amazed by how strong people are, and I am saying this after seeing people show me their biggest, darkest flaws. I truly believe that those who are willing to engage in therapy are strong. It is not selfish, it is not a sign of weakness, it is not for those who cannot handle life.
So, here is what engaging in therapy shows me about he/she who sitting across from me:
Taking the step to pick up the phone, or send an email is an act of bravery. Not knowing if the person on the other end of the line is going to judge you or reinforce your already negative self-concept is a scary first step.
Searching for professional help with personal struggles can be scary because you are acknowledging weaknesses. You are saying I cannot fix this problem and now people are hearing you say this. However, continuing to hide the problem and let it prevent you from achieving your optimal level of happiness/ability is the weakness that is most harmful. Admitting that we have imperfections, depression, anxiety, fears, and so forth is simply stating that we are human. In no way, does this mean you are crazy or insane.
Stepping into a therapy session creates a certain level of vulnerability, which is actually an essential part of therapy. Though graduate schools do not make therapists/psychologist go through their own therapy (which I think is absolutely absurd and arrogant), I felt it was important to work through any of my baggage that would interfere with my client’s work. Engaging in therapy for me led to a great sense of vulnerability. However, as I saw the compassion and empathy that the therapist had for me was healing. It was like emptying my bucket of all my worst fears and someone letting me know I would make it through. Was it somewhat nerve racking? Yes! Was it necessary? Absolutely! Engaging in therapy means you are willing to look at yourself and let down your wall, or defensiveness against yourself. This process can actually give you more compassion and understanding towards those who are struggling.
Becoming aware of your limitations allows your move past them. Coping skills only last so long, it is important to find the root of problems and remove them, which allows you to build new memories and write new stories!
Feeling stuck is awful…. we have all been there. The more we avoid the human condition means the more we experience unpleasant feelings/thoughts. Furthermore,as we avoid moving through our baggage (remember we all have it) we neglect the ability that we all have to heal and become stronger. So, if you are contemplating therapy and are thinking you are weak for doing so… I simply invite you to think twice. Just the thought that you might want to start therapy is a sign that you are strong… you are willing to face your fears and become even stronger. Also, remember… therapy is not just looking at weaknesses… it is just as much about magnifying and generalizing your strengths!