Why therapy is just one more facet of self care…
My mother was horrified that I suggest she considered therapy, but I think it’s up there with facials and eye masks.
‘I mean, here’s my take, but I think a therapist would probably get a lot from this scenario,’ I said to my mother as she explained a family drama, some patterns that continually emerge (more than she even realises) and how she felt about it.
It wasn’t my way of fobbing her off, but a legitimate helpful suggestion. She was offended. ‘You think I’m overreacting so much that I need THERAPY to deal with this?’
Honestly, I think almost everyone could benefit from therapy. Especially the people who say they’re scared of going. It’s hard work, and the problem is you get flooded with all this mess, like you’re trying to unknot a ball of string the cat’s been at, and it just seems impossible and you want to cut it up or chuck it away. But after the first big knot that seemed like it would never loosen or fray, it becomes easier, it feels more like winding it up, following the trail of string until it’s all neatly put away.
I see therapy as a form of self care, and honestly, if I could afford it right now I’d love to see what’s going on in my head. As a new mum, I’d love to explore how my own parental relationships are impacting my parenting choices, how I can stop certain things from being passed on to my kid, and why, after thirty three years, I still can’t stand to disappoint my parents. Those of you who’ve read The Fixer Upper might recognise some of those people pleaser tendencies.
Therapy is ongoing, it’s about self knowledge, self care and self awareness. I’d say it makes you a better person a lot of the time, and a better friend almost definitely. A therapist can be honest with you in a way you can’t with a friend or family member. I know, when given a scenario, I’m expected to be on their side at all times. In some cases, even floating an alternative is enough to start an argument. And unlike someone you’ve paid to listen to you, asking how that makes you feel, or encouraging you to ‘sit with that discomfort’ often doesn’t go down well (try it, I dare you).
Is this a generational thing? Have we normalised mental health and not just mental illness? Have we finally recognised we don’t have to push ourselves to breaking point before we can start looking after ourselves?
And if that’s true, how can we convince the older generation, who see it as a sign of failure, or weakness or self indulgence?
What are your experiences with therapy and what do your family think?