Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 31, 2018

What is Psychotherapy? How It Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams

What is Psychotherapy? How It Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams

No doubt you’ve had this thought before, and maybe you’ve even voiced it in a conversation with a close friend, a family member, or yourself.

The thought goes like this: What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?

You expect and want life to go a certain way, you want to fulfill your dreams and you want success, but it’s not happening. You feel stuck in a cycle of desperation, alienation and futility.

Your life circumstances are such that you’re having trouble coping and returning to normal. The good news is there’s a kind of counseling called psychotherapy; you can use it to make a real difference in your life. According to Bradley University, 82 percent1 of people who have undergone psychotherapy found it beneficial.[1]

What is psychotherapy and how can it help you achieve your dreams? Continue reading to find out.

What Is psychotherapy?

Before we go further, let’s define psychotherapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, psychotherapy is “talk therapy.”[2]

Generally speaking, psychotherapy is a series of sessions with a therapist who helps you “identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behavior.”

Advertising

Psychotherapy isn’t just for people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Anyone can benefit from it.

How psychotherapy helps you take control of your life

Here’s the truth about psychotherapy: it’s all about you — your desires, goals, relationships, perspective, skills and agency.

You’re stuck in a pattern. You feel you’re in a bad place and you can’t get out. Through psychotherapy, you’ll pin down actionable steps to move forward.

Your counselor will help you understand the following:

  1. You are the one who can make changes to your pattern because you have the power to recognize negative tendencies and act positively. You have agency.
  2. You can figure out what brought you to this place in your life. You’ll identify past experiences, actions and behaviors that contribute to your pattern.
  3. You can get help from other people. You’ll identify a support network and if you don’t have one, you’ll develop one.
  4. You have strengths; you’ll identify them and ways to use them for positive improvement.
  5. There are certain things that trigger your problematic behaviors. You’ll identify your triggers.
  6. You can use specific techniques every day when you are triggered. These techniques are called coping skills. With cognitive-behavioral therapy, you’ll identify which coping skills are best for you.
  7. There are measurable and realistic goals you can achieve within a certain period of time. You’ll identify your goals and the steps toward achieving them.

Ultimately, taking the small steps every day and filling your self-confidence bucket will enable you to fulfill your dreams.

A dream remains a dream when it’s distant, hazy and unattainable. A dream becomes reality when you take realistic steps to achievement.

There are different types of psychotherapy. Let’s take a deeper dive into the practice.

Advertising

How cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you take action

Quickly, think of an issue that pretty much everyone must deal with. No clues! You have five seconds to identify this issue. It’s something you may be feeling right now. If you can’t figure it out now, you fail.

Did that make you feel a little stressed out? There you have it.

Stress is an issue pretty much everyone has to deal with, and it can affect your physical and emotional health: about 77 percent of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress, while 73 percent report emotional problems.[3]

To cope with stress, Dr. Lisa Herbert, who is a physician and life coach, recommends deep breathing, a gratitude journal, and counting to 10 before doing something you know will be stressful.

Herbert’s recommendations are very much in line with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Basically, CBT involves the following:

  • Identify symptoms that indicate the psychological basis of a problem: if you’re overly stressed, you may experience racing thoughts, aches and pains, muscle spasms and digestive issues, among other symptoms.
  • Identify triggers of symptoms: what is it that stresses you out? Is there a recurring scenario causing you to become overly stressed?
  • Identify coping skills that can help you deal with symptoms: coping skills can include deep breathing, positive self-talk, redirection, exercise, art, and mindfulness.
  • Identify ways to implement coping skills in the community and at home.
  • Practice coping skills regularly.
  • Discuss results and next steps with your therapist.

A key component of CBT is the identification of thoughts that lead to undesirable behaviors. You learn to recognize negative and unreasonable thoughts and to counter them through specific actions (coping skills).

Your therapist works with you to tailor coping skills to your specific needs. If needed, you’ll also identify pro-social skills, communication skills and vocational/educational skills.

Advertising

How psychoanalysis helps you unearth the root of your problems

Do you remember when you were 8 and you got in a fight with your sibling and it got physical? How many other fights do you remember? Did you ever begin to talk about your anger with your brother or sister and figure out what was causing it, or did your parents just ground you and ignore the cause of the fights?

Psychoanalysis helps you delve deep into the cause of whatever is troubling you. Somewhere along the line, you unconsciously began to develop a harmful pattern. You’ll discover the thinking processes that lead to patterns, and you’ll pinpoint what made you start thinking and acting this way to begin with.

During therapy sessions, you’ll discuss your dreams, thoughts, memories and feelings with your therapist until you understand the root of your problem. Once you recognize and understand harmful thoughts and patterns, you can begin taking the steps to change. Therapists oftentimes combine this approach with CBT and other psychotherapies.

A study published by the World Psychiatric Association revealed that patients who suffered from depression benefitted from psychoanalysis in the long term. After 42 weeks, observers and the patients themselves reported significant declines in depression levels.[4]

Through psychoanalysis, you’ll benefit from gaining a clear and objective view of yourself, like a person who is able to navigate a maze by looking at it from above. You’ll also be able to understand what certain dreams mean and why you continue to associate with certain people.

Over time, understanding and empowerment will help you heal yourself.

Psychotherapy encompasses a variety of treatment options

There are multiple kinds of psychotherapy besides psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy. You’ll determine what is best for you when you first consult with your therapist.

Advertising

The American Psychological Association (APA) highlights the difference between CBT and psychoanalysis.[5]

The APA calls psychoanalysis a “humanistic” approach. CBT and its adjuncts, such as dialectical behavior therapy, furnish a practical approach to therapy, while psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy are all about in-depth conversation.

Many therapists combine practical and talk-based therapies based on your needs.

Achieve your dreams with psychotherapy

As mentioned, psychoanalysis includes careful consideration not only of your thoughts and feelings, but of your dream content and what it means about your desires.

Analyzing your dreams helps you understand your innermost unconscious tendencies. According to Freud, Carl Jung and other pioneers of psychoanalysis, dream analysis helps you understand your most fundamental needs and wishes.

Meanwhile, CBT helps you develop a practical, achievable plan for fulfilling your dreams. Answering the question, “What do you want?” is a primary component of all psychotherapies. CBT is the step-by-step approach to healing wounds, filling your confidence bucket, and grasping your goals.

To find out more about psychoanalysis, CBT, and other psychotherapies, consult with a licensed therapist.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

11 Simple and Effective Ways to Manage Stress How to Start a New Life Without Sacrificing Everything You Have 10 Secrets to Living a Happy Life No Matter How Old You Are How to Forgive Yourself and Move Forward for a Happier Life How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence

Trending in Mental Strength

1 How to Attain Self Realization (Step-By-Step Guide for a Better You) 2 How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life 3 Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good 4 Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think 5 How to Be More Confident: 10 Powerful Ways to Boost Confidence

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 13, 2019

How to Attain Self Realization (Step-By-Step Guide for a Better You)

How to Attain Self Realization (Step-By-Step Guide for a Better You)

Chances are, you’re busy hustling between the 40 hours a week you need to work, the family you need to provide for, and the bills that need to be paid.

As the years pass by, you’ve begun to feel the burnout from all the needs and expectations required of you. You don’t feel like you are in control over your own life. In fact, it feels like the circumstances in your life are controlling you.

What if there was a way for you to be able to have better control of your life and create all the positive changes you’ve been aching for?

This can be done through self-realization.

You’ve probably heard of this concept before, but you’re not really sure what it really is or how it can help you.

I’m going to dive into what exactly self-realization is and the exact steps you can take to attain it for yourself. Read on if you want to learn how to unlock your potential and find a way to decrease your stress and anxiety, and gain crystal clear clarity about who you are and what you’re capable of.

What Is Self-Realization?

Self-realization has a few big definitions. In the Western world, it’s generally defined as the activation of one’s full potential of talents and abilities.

How Psychologists Define Self-Realization

Humanistic psychology also follows a similar train of thought about self-realization.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow has named people he considered to have reached self-realization such as Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to name a few. His famous hierarchy of needs theory states in order to achieve self-realization (or in this case, Maslow uses the term “self-actualization”),[1] one needs to have a certain set of needs met before achieving it:[2]

Advertising

    For example, self-realization cannot be achieved if you are struggling financially and too caught up in worrying about how to pay for the rent and provide food for your family. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for many people, which leaves little opportunity for them to maximize their abilities.

    How Religions Define Self-Realization

    In religions, the concept of self-realization is taken from a different perspective altogether. Connecting with your truest self has a lot to do with transcending your own mind and body. This self is often considered as an eternal being that is not confined to the physical space that your mind and body take up. Many recognize this part of yourself as the soul.

    To put all of these definitions together, self-realization is ultimately learning the answer to the foundational question, “Who am I?”

    The answer lies from understanding that you are not your emotions or your thoughts. Who you really are is not even your body or your mind. These are all things you as a self experience, but they are not you.

    And when you are too caught up in these things that are not yours, that’s when you fall victim to and get stuck in your negative experiences such as stress, anxiety and fear.

    While your thoughts, feelings, and physical body always changes, you do not.

    I know this concept can be a bit confusing to understand, so here’s a great video that explores who you really are explained by Prince EA. It was a video made in response to a bizarre interview session with Comedian Jim Carrey at the red carpet interview at the 2017 New York Fashion Week.

    Here’s the video:

    Why Self-Realization Matters to You

    How often are you distracted, lost in your thoughts, or overwhelmed by difficult emotions?

    Advertising

    Being in the present is more difficult than ever with the technology today. People are often buried in their smartphones or laptops while others around are craving their attention.

    Most people spend so little time in the present. They’re usually either hurt and having trouble letting go of their past, or busy worrying about their futures:[3]

    “People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.”

    Here are some amazing benefits to self-realization:

    • The ability to monitor your emotions. Rather than being controlled by your emotions, you can now use your observations about them during the experience to learn how to effectively handle things like fear, anxiety and stress. Self-realizations helps you do this by giving you the skill of letting go of debilitating feelings and taking hold of the empowering ones instead.
    • Improved focus and concentration. Guided by your own inner goals and values, self-realization helps you easily identify when you are entering into distractions and eliminate them. By getting rid of the meaningless things in your life, you stay committed to what matters most and you begin to see real results as you reach your fullest potential.
    • Increased confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. By being connected deeply to your truest self, self-realization frees you from any insecurities, worries, and low sense of self worth that you feel tangled up in by helping you really grasp the truth that you are not defined by them.
    • Becoming more accepting of yourself and of other people. You are able to be more authentic and express emotions freely and clearly. As a result, you are able to form deeper relationships and spend more time connecting with people rather than trying to impress them.

    When people don’t have a strong sense of their own self, they get easily swayed to live life the way other people tell them to live it.

    The truth of this has been shown through Bronnie Ware’s famous work, which has shown that one of the top regrets of people who are dying was:[4]

    “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

    There can be tons of pressure whether it’s from work, society, and even friends and family for you to be a certain way. Maybe your rough upbringing instilled a strong need for other’s approval in you so you do what others expect of you. Maybe you’ve stopped trusting people because of your struggles with letting go of the thoughts and experiences that hurt you.

    Whatever the situation, self-realization gives you the safe space you need to heal and grow.

    How to Start Developing Self-Realization

    1. Start Meditating Regularly

    Aside from all the scientific evidence that shows the health benefits of meditation, it is also a prime way to achieve self-realization.

    Advertising

    One of my favorite apps that guide you through meditation is Headspace.

    I particularly love this app because it is very straightforward without all the woo-woo types of things you normally associate with meditation. It does a great job of demystifying what meditation really is and how it can benefit you to achieving self-realization.

    Here’s a great explanation of what meditation does for you:

    You can get the basic meditation guidance for free or pay for a premium version for access to more specific meditations that improve things like self esteem, creativity and relationships.

    In case you don’t want to download the app, here is the simple meditation practice you can do right now:

    1. Sit comfortably on a chair.
    2. Start by leaving your eyes open with a relaxed soft focus.
    3. Take about a minute to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    4. After a few deep breaths, gently close your eyes while you are breathing out.
    5. Resume normal breathing.
    6. Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment with having nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to check.
    7. Take a moment to feel the pressure of your body on the chair beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms just resting on the legs.
    8. Gently bring the focus back to your breathing.
    9. As you sit there beginning to notice the breath and the body with its rising and falling sensation, don’t try and stop your thoughts. Simply allow them to just come and go.
    10. At this point, the only thing you need to do is when you’ve realized your mind has wandered, gently bring the focus back to your breath again.
    11. Gently bring the attention back to your body, back to that feeling of contact to your chair and the space around you and when ready, gently open your eyes again.

    Even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day, learning to train your mind to be present is so important to your journey towards self-realization. You need to take a step back from the craziness of life and recompose yourself to be present for the things that matter most.

    Another great method that can be used to achieve self-realization that involves a bit more body strength is yoga. While there are many variations of yoga and has also become a very popular form of exercise in western culture, its original purpose served as a meditative practice to achieve the higher level of consciousness that comes from self-realization.

    You can access plenty of free Yoga channels on Youtube or join a gym to get started.

    2. Make Time for Self-Realization Every Day

    I know what you’re thinking.

    Advertising

    “I don’t have time for this!”

    I beg to differ.

    About 40 percent of the things you do in a day don’t involve you actively making a decision. Instead, it is actually a habit.

    Out of all of your habits, there are probably a handful of bad ones. If you can observe your daily routines, there is a simple way to change a bad habit into a good one, which is to start making changes to your environment to make it easier for you to change your habits.

    The idea is rather than trying to squeeze in more time to do something, simply alter a daily habit you have into something else.

    For example, let’s say you start your morning by brewing your coffee and sitting down on the dining table for 20 minutes to browse the internet to catch up on the news.

    The news is usually full of negative information, so why not spend those 20 minutes in meditation instead?

    One easy way to make this change is to change your environment up by keeping your laptop and phone in a different room so you don’t have immediate access to it when you sit down on the dining table. You make it easier on yourself to spend time meditating rather than staring at a screen.

    Want some more great tips on breaking bad habits? You can try out Lifehack CEO’s secret Control Alternate Delete method, which was the method he used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months.

    Final Thoughts

    Self-realization doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time and practice, but if you turn the practices into a habit, you’ll be guaranteed to get there. Once you do, you’ll finally feel like you are in more control over your life and be able to get yourself to the next level.

    Now that you have a better understanding of the importance and benefits of self-realization, why not take a moment to put everything down and give it a try?

    More About Self-Realization

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next