Today I was discharged from therapy.
I hadn’t been to therapy since I was around sixteen but earlier this year, over 6 years later, I made the decision to give it another try. Last year took a big toll on my mental health and I felt it was time to speak about it and get some guidance.
Throughout isolation, I’ve been having routine calls over the phone with a therapist to talk through my anxieties and learn how to better deal with the struggles I am faced with from time to time. Within the sessions, I had been sent resources to work on and learn from to be able to work into my everyday life. I’ve been able to use these tools to get a clearer understanding of my sometimes negative or conflicting feelings and how to deal with it in the best way possible for me.
Today I said my final farewells and was wished good luck as we had both agreed I am now ready to take on all that I have learned and move forward in my life (pop the champagne!).
Here I want to share with you three key things I took away from my sessions that have begun to take a positive effect on my life already, in hopes that maybe some of the things that helped me can help you too and also for me to be able to come back and reflect on from time to time.
Side note… This will probably be a long one so prepare for that! I will list resources, quotes and my own discoveries from this journey, take from it what works and resonates best with you.
First off… Vulnerability,
I tend to struggle with opening up and being vulnerable with people as in the past I have been vulnerable and ended up very hurt in the end. Since then I had a voice in my head that said I needed to harden up, be strong and don’t let people in anymore, be your own happiness, your own love, don’t be weak or vulnerable to men because that’ll only get you hurt in the end. This was something I definitely wanted to work on as I knew by putting up so many walls, letting these negative voices take over and it was only holding me back from discovering deeper and more special connections with the right type of people and removing myself from the possibility of such wonderful and enriching relationships. And obviously, those voice’s in my head were a load of shit!
So my therapist suggested I watch The power of vulnerability by Brené Brown (and basically anything else from her because she is just wonderful by the way!).
This talk helped change my perception on vulnerability. And although it took some brutal self-analysis, I instantly felt a sense of relief as she spoke of how it’s okay… NECESSARY even, to let people in, to live your life with vulnerability and compassion within the right kind of boundaries (basically, with people you feel comfortable with).
“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear, but it is also the birthplace of joy, happiness, creativity, belonging and love.”
“You are imperfect and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
“The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging, BELIEVE they are worthy of love and belonging.”
I started to open up more to the right kind of people (trust your gut on that one) and I felt far lighter for it, I built such stronger, more meaningful connections and felt so bloody good for getting things out in the open with people, I don’t live in so much fear of hurt anymore I am able to accept all that comes from it and I’ve even been able to learn so much more about myself through opening up. So give it a try, see what good can come of it!
Then it was on to self-compassion…
I know we all have it, that nasty voice in our heads, telling us we are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough and so on. We all have it but we all deal with it differently, so I wanted to learn how to deal with my negative internal dialogue better. Things that have helped me is…
- Speak to yourself as you would to a friend who was hurting. We tend to be so bloody hard on ourselves but we would never necessarily say those things to those we love and care for so why do we do it to ourselves?! You gotta love and care for yourself just as much as those close to you!
- Give those negative thoughts in your mind a name, detach it from yourself. Detaching from those thoughts is sooo important, reminding yourself you are not your thoughts can help you see past the noise.
- and with that, address the thought then let it go. Unfortunately, that negative voice will always be there but to hurt is to human, you merely just have to address it. You know its there, but then just let it go, don’t let it consume you! When you start to hear those negative thoughts, think ‘I know you’re there but I am not my thought’s and I will not let you tear me down’. If that is not enough, attempt some ‘self-soothing’ activities. My favourites are listening to music through headphones, meditating and making myself a nice hot cup of coffee and really staying present within that moment of bliss.
- and lastly, for this topic (not really last, but I will leave you with this one) Be kind to yourself. Speak kindly to yourself, embrace the things you love about yourself, learn to love yourself with your whole heart!!!
My therapist ALWAYS came back to self-compassion, pretty much everything I talked about she would come back to this idea of ‘self-compassion’. It really is far more important than some would think! So make it a priority to work on loving yourself, cause deep down you know you’re wonderful, you just may not have yet let yourself really believe it!
A great resource for self-compassion, again, given to me by my wonderful therapist. Is Dr Russ Harris and his talk’s/books/course’s on “The Happiness Trap”.
And I will end with this one… Bear in mind, there is plenty more I have gained throughout my therapy and I really could go on and on but I will leave that for another day.
“Appreciate the journey as you head to your goals”
For me, I have a constant ticking clock in my head counting down the minutes and reminding me of how behind I am in my life.
I think a lot of it was to do with living in a fast-paced city for many years and being consumed by social media, having me let it put pressure on me to be set on my path and achieving and reaching all my goals at a rapid pace.
I never had a clear understanding of what I wanted to do in my life and that used to scare me. It felt like everyone around me knew what they were doing and I was lagging behind. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things I knew I would like to do but I didn’t know where to put my energy and seeing others supposedly ‘reaching their success’ while I’m still stuck waiting tables dreaming of a better life can get very deflating after a while.
The idea of “appreciating the journey as you head to your goals” was extremely settling for me. It really is about the journey, life is one long, crazy, beautiful journey. You may hit your set goal’s in your early twenties but you can only progress from there, you don’t just reach your goals and then say ‘right I’m done now’, you keep on with your journey and everyone’s journey is different.
I’m a ‘looking at the bigger picture’ kind of person and find it a real challenge to be content in the steps it takes to get to where you want to be. Until I learnt to really immerse myself in the process, be present and just make that start on some hobbies and passions of mine and really take in each moment of it. What’s that saying, ‘life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’… Yeah something like that, well, it’s so true! But hard for us to grasp sometimes!
From now on I’ll be putting my values into my goals, making a real start on whatever I chose to make a start on (right now that’s writing) and just trust the process. Don’t let people rush you or stress you or tell you things need to be done a certain way, you do what’s best for you!
And if you are struggling to get a grasp of who you truly are and what you would like to do with your life in more of a career sense, then I suggest you take some online personality tests like the Myer Briggs test. I bloody love these kinds of things, like actually obsessed! It’s not for everyone but it’s definitely helped give me more of an idea of who I am as a person.
So I will leave you at that for now and I hope even just one person can gain a little something from this!
Feel free to leave in the comment some resources that have helped you get through tough times.