“Therapy is like a workout for your emotions,” said a client when describing her perspective on the process of therapy. While we shared a little laugh over her insightful comparison, it was interesting to think about the real truth behind it.
For many, there is often an acknowledgment that something needs to shift, but the challenge is to identify and work through the issue(s) in a way that helps you to assume greater responsibility for what you truly desire out of life. While it might be tempting to push aside your difficult feelings, I would encourage you to trust that those emotions are trying to communicate something important to you.
We all experience times when we feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and uncertain. We can be quite accomplished in many aspects of life and simultaneously continue to struggle in other important areas including our relationships or our ability to cope (in healthy ways) with difficulties.
Sometimes old and unproductive narratives get in the way of living life to the fullest. Other times, a past experience or a problematic relationship pattern impedes our ability to be present with ourselves and others in a way that aligns with our goals for real connection and a lasting sense of well-being. Our attempts to “deal” with our discomfort can sometimes lead us down a destructive path that all too often takes us further away from the life we truly desire.
We often try to convince ourselves: “if only I was more of this or that, I wouldn’t have this problem.” Frequently, we use harsh narratives in regard to ourselves, we say things like: “successful people have it figured out” or “only people with major issues go to therapy.”
Well, that’s not true. Not at all! Those narratives aren’t helping anyone.
Therapy provides a safe space to learn about yourself, challenge unproductive patterns, and develop new and more effective ways to connect and cope with life’s difficulties. Although it’s tempting to search for a quick and easy fix, I believe there is tremendous value in dedicating the appropriate time and energy to identifying your most important priorities, working through relationship difficulties, and overcoming patterns that are no longer in alignment with your truest self.
While therapy often involves a focus on reducing symptoms related to commonly experienced problems, it can also provide a space to help you address long-standing unproductive patterns that are getting in the way of feeling more fulfilled and becoming the best version of yourself.
Don’t let the stigma of therapy prevent you from addressing important concerns in your life.
When we feel connected to others, appreciated for our unique strengths, and capable of living in alignment with our values, we can operate from a place of emotional generosity and contribute to our relationships and the world in meaningful and authentic ways.
Jennifer Uhrlass, LMFT