What I learned from 6 months in Psychotherapy
6 months ago, I was spent! I had been running on E for a while, but it had finally taken a toll, and I was strongly considering walking away from everything. I knew if I didn’t get more help, my decision-making would only worsen. So, I decided to go back to intense psychotherapy for the first time in years.
My ego made it a tougher pill to swallow b/c I had convinced myself that as a public personality who advocates for mental health, I could be seen as a hypocrite. But really, the only thing hypocritical was my refusal and stubbornness to do the very thing I had been encouraging others to do–seek professional help (and mean it). So I did. And here’s the five-point checklist of what I’ve learned.
(If you’re in a tight spot, or someone you know is, I hope this encourages you to start your journey with therapy or helps make you feel comfortable reaching out to a trustworthy friend for emotional support. By sharing this, I hope that it makes it easier to take that first step.
- We all experience trauma–we just gotta stop running from dealing with it: What hit home in one of our first sessions was when she asked me: “What was the thing you needed most as a child but never got?” Suddenly she helped me access a specific memory that felt just as real that day as it did when it first happened to me. As we went through subsequent sessions, it became clear that I was running away from that younger self I had “left behind” to avoid dealing with unresolved trauma. She encouraged me to sit with my younger self and connect with him. If you can answer that question for yourself and connect with that younger self, you’ll find that it helps uncover the root of many of your present emotions, reactions, and behaviors. Just like you can’t out-train a bad diet, you can’t outrun your trauma.
- You Have to Embrace Reality: This was easier said than done! In order to stop avoiding reality and start dealing with the present, I had to first mourn the loss of the expectations I had set for my life. I came to grips with the parts of reality that have held any emotional weight over myself… it’s hard, and it can stink. Still, through acceptance, you can change your perspective from “this stinks, and it’s as good as it gets” to “this stinks, but I’m OK with it.” By acknowledging the emotional baggage, you can learn to stop avoiding reality and embrace it without letting those emotions define and dictate your present.
- You (And Your Feelings) Are Worthy: The turning point was when my therapist asked me: “what makes you happy?” That question made me feel heard because it also helped me hear MYSELF. It can be a tough question to answer. Still, suppose you dig deep and can answer that question. In that case, you can take the first steps toward accepting your emotions AND yourself–the real, genuine you that deserves to hold space and to matter without seeking external validation and building your worthiness on the expectations of others.
- You Need to Be Comfortable with Your Own Identity: Understanding my past trauma informed the way I approached many of my personal and business relationships and what they meant to me. Do I feel free to be myself with this person or business? Am I subconsciously chasing acceptance? So my ask of you is this: consider which relationships you have where you feel compelled to be who you think you HAVE TO be versus the relationships you have which build you up and celebrate you as the person you ARE.
- Perspective Is Everything: And here’s my final point. It sounds obvious, but the impact of this can’t be understated: therapy changes your perspective. It’s kinda like getting new reading glasses–you’re seeing the world with a lot more clarity. As you deal with your past trauma, your relationships and the way you move through the world will change significantly. When your understanding and view of the world changes (and that’s a GOOD thing), what you value also changes which helps you embrace reality in ways you hadn’t before. You release the emotional baggage that colored your previous experiences and dramatically change how you navigate the world.
Those are the five takeaways from my six-month journey through psychotherapy, and when you check out the video, I hope you discover ways that therapy might be helpful for you. To continue the conversation, I sit down with Jesse–who’s never been through therapy himself–to unpack more questions folks might have and to further remove the stigma around seeking professional help.
Check it out here and let me know what you think.