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14 Things People Who Go To Therapy Want You To Know

14 Things People Who Go To Therapy Want You To Know

When people hear a friend talk about therapy, a number of worries come to mind: Is he okay? Does he hate me? Is she suicidal? Unfortunately, knowing this, many people choose not to even attend therapy, even when they are in the most dire of situations. If people were more understanding of what therapy entails, and why people choose to attend therapy, these preconceived notions would fall to the wayside, along with the stigma attached to seeking help.

1. We’re not weak

Does going to the gym mean you’re physically weak? No. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Therapy is like a gym for your mental and spiritual well-being. Each session builds you up even more than you were before, and as you continue to work on the issues you may be facing in life, you continue to grow on a daily and weekly basis. The truly weak are the ones who avoid their problems and shelter themselves, rather than overcoming the obstacles life has thrown at them.

2. We’re not crazy

The social stigma attached to therapy is that, if you need professional help, you must be crazy. Again, that’s just not the case. Many perfectly sane, healthy individuals attend therapy to get some outside perspective about their life, especially as they navigate through rough experiences. Even therapists go to therapy! It’s not a matter of not being able to help yourself; it’s a matter of getting advice from a professional who sees things objectively and understands the best course of action to take.

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3. We’re not medicated

Those attending therapy should not be looking for a quick fix. In fact, quick fixes, such as using alcohol or drugs, are usually part of the reason people begin attending therapy. Self-medicating simply masks larger issues that we’ve ignored or avoided in our daily lives; but when the effects of the drug wear off, the problems still exist. It takes much more willpower to confront your issues and tackle them than it does to drink a ton of beer and forget your problems exist for a couple hours. And when you confront your issues without the use of alcohol or drugs, you wake up stronger the next day, ready to take on the world once more.

4. We’re not wasting our time

There is absolutely no reason to think spending an hour a week getting your thoughts and feelings in order is a waste of time. In fact, if we all spent more time collecting ourselves, the world would most likely be in better shape than it is. Not only is the time spent in a session helpful, but it also helps us use our time outside of therapy more wisely. Going back to the gym metaphor, you wouldn’t go to the gym once a week and eat McDonald’s the rest of the time; you’d also start eating healthier, making healthier decisions, etc. Same with therapy. You carry with you the lessons learned in the short session throughout the week, making a better use of every moment of your day.

5. We’re not wasting our money

Yes, therapy can be expensive. But can you really put a price on your well-being? If the answer is yes, then you’re ironically a great candidate to start attending sessions! Going back to the last point, yes, the sessions might seem expensive, but if you utilize the lessons learned correctly and carry them with you throughout your life, the money amount completely evens out. $150 for an hour may seem like a lot, but if you use what you learned in that hour all week, assuming you’re awake for about 130 hours a week, you’re really only spending about a dollar an hour. Is your happiness and success really not worth a dollar an hour?

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6. We’re not alone

A lot of people, when they find out a friend is in therapy, tend to wonder why their friend didn’t come to them, or doesn’t just go to their family with their problems. Well, the truth is, we know we can, but we don’t want to burden everyone else with our problems. Plus, we most likely already know the responses we’ll get from specific people if we go to them. Again, a therapist is an objective professional who won’t judge you, and won’t give you the stock answers most friends give to each other, even if they mean well. Sometimes explaining your issues to someone you don’t know can be more beneficial than discussing them with someone you’re close with.

7. We don’t talk about you

We don’t go to our therapists to gossip or talk trash about our closest friends. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Everything discussed in a therapy session is meaningful and productive, which gossip certainly is not. We might talk about you, but anything negative we might say will ultimately come back to us from the therapist as “Well why do you feel this way about so and so?” It really is all about us. The sitcom joke of “My therapist said you need x, y, z” is simply a running gag that refuses to die, and has no factual basis in real therapy.

8. We’re okay with needing help

Although there usually is some catalyst that is the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” most people who attend therapy have been thinking of doing so for some time. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to it, people often wait until their breaking point before they decide to attend therapy. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. If it was more socially acceptable to engage in therapeutic sessions, more people would attend before they reach their wit’s end. But at any rate, the mere act of going to therapy shows that a person is okay with needing help, and is willing to seek it out from a professional.

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9. We’re not necessarily in a bad place

Although many wait until they’re in dire straits before attending therapy, others are more proactive, and use therapy to avoid bad situations rather than to get out of them. Maybe they see the writing on the wall, or they’ve started out on a path to detrimental habits or hobbies, and want to head them off before things get to bad. Maybe everything is going fine, and they want to keep it that way. Whatever the case may be, attending therapy is a surefire way to get out of the funk you’ve been in, and ensure that you don’t stay too long in a “bad place.”

10. We’re not there for a set period of time

Therapy isn’t one of those “I think I’m cured, doc!” type of appointments. It’s merely a catalyst to get you moving in the right direction. As was mentioned before, the hour spent in a therapy session means nothing if it’s not acted on throughout the week. Yes, there will come a time when you don’t need your therapist anymore, or quite as frequently, but your self-improvement is always a work in progress. In fact, the moment you think “I’m good now, thanks!” is probably the moment you become complacent and stoic. Therapy is a springboard toward a better life, but you will always need to put in effort even after your sessions are over.

11. We don’t need you to feel bad for us

Like we mentioned before, being in therapy doesn’t mean we’re in a “bad place.” And it doesn’t mean we’ve changed who we are completely. We don’t need pity, because we actually feel stronger than we ever have before. It’s fairly ironic that people might feel bad for friends who are in therapy, but never felt bad for them before they started their sessions. Wouldn’t a good friend have noticed something was wrong before having to be told about it point blank?

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12. We aren’t bossed around by our therapist

The old saying is true: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force him to drink. Our therapists definitely don’t tell us what to do. They would be wasting their time. However, they can guide us to make our own decisions using their professional observations and opinions. Once the therapist and the patient are able to find the best course of action, the patient is the one who needs to take the steps. Honestly, if a therapist were to blatantly tell you how to live your life, would you even listen?

13. We can’t recommend a therapist for you

Therapy just isn’t for everyone. Like we mentioned, it’s not a magic cure-all, and some people might not work well with specific therapists. What works best for me might not work at all for you. But, what we can tell you is, if you’ve been debating going to a session, absolutely do it. If you have an inkling at all that you might need some professional assistance, there is no reason not to give it a try. You might not like it, and might choose to discontinue services. On the other hand, going to therapy might actually change your life.

14. We’re not suicidal

This is a big one. The biggest misconception about people in therapy is that they’re teetering on the edge of Hamlet-ville. If it’s not obvious by now, let me make it clear: not all people in therapy want to die. People in therapy are there because they want to live. It’s those who are on a path of self-destruction, that choose not to better themselves, that run the risk of an untimely demise. Those who attend therapy are actively trying to get better, and, by taking this first step, they ensure that tomorrow will be a better day.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words—many times your parents
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

1. For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

2. For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

4. For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
  • Shut down your thinking
  • Calm your feelings
  • Simply focus on the present moment

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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