I'm quite sad therapy gets such a bad rap, but I think when people say they aren't willing to go it's because they're scared. They're scared they're going to be told they suck at life and there is no hope. My experience with therapy has been the exact opposite. It is SO FREAKING AMAZING to have someone not emotionally involved in your life help you navigate through your shit. It's so great to build a rapport with them so when you say something to your therapist you think is true (ahem. Like I did today: "But why can't they do this?") your therapist can turn it around and put you in the other person's shoes and say, "But how would you feel if someone asked you that with where you're at emotionally right now?" Touche, Kindra, touche (not that she was trying to one up me or anything, but she was so spot on).
Therapy has been helpful because it's been a safe space to realize some things I really need to realize. Kindra has helped me to see areas where I'm right, wrong or when things are simply out of my control. She's helped me identify situations where I've responded to my situation with anxiousness. Because she was able to help me see where I have been anxious, I've been able to identify it when it pops up. Awareness, in my opinion, is the single most important lesson to be gained from therapy. Awareness is power, it provides peace and allows you to move forward.
The biggest area of growth I've seen in my life as a result of being in therapy is that I can finally validate my own damn self. I am now able to hear someone else's opinion on my life's choices and dismiss them. This doesn't mean I don't care what people close to me think, I just no longer feel a stab of unnecessary guilt - just because people might not like every decision I make doesn't mean I should filter my decision for their comfort. Somewhere along the way, very early in life, I started to believe that unless I had general approval from family and close friends it meant I was doing something wrong. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that sometimes people close to me don't have incredible insight or that I now believe they're always wrong. But I am the one who knows what's best for me, I don't need anyone's approval or permission to live my life. Basically, I've learned to trust myself - my inner voice if you will - and that feels pretty fantastic.
A long time ago a family member told me he was in therapy, I vocalized surprise because I wasn't used to hearing a man say he was in therapy let alone without any shame or embarrassment in his voice. What he said for his follow up has always stayed with me, "Lexi, everyone should be in therapy."
To sum up: therapy doesn't make you weak, it has potential to make you stronger and wiser. It's also a safe place to navigate your emotions, concerns and the heaviness of life. I can't promise the first therapist you go to will be great, you may have to try a few. I understand if that sounds daunting and draining. I won't lie to you, many times after leaving therapy I feel drained; I also feel better, healthier and can feel myself getting mentally stronger which is encouragement enough to keep me coming back. Just like your heart needs to be worked out, so does your mind.
Since I'm going to be a therapist one day, I hope that the experiences you've had with me let you know I would never lead you to something where the risks outweigh the benefits. If you need to reach out, I'm here, if you want to ask questions as to what to expect as a client, I'm here. You are not alone. One last word on what I've learned from therapy that I think is important for everyone to learn: I've learned to sit with conflicting emotions. I can cry from heartbreak, disappointment, sadness, frustration etc. and still have hope. Life doesn't have to be black and white, all or nothing. I can mourn but have hope for tomorrow. You can too friend <3