Therapy is often talked about as a lot of work. It’s considered intense. You’re told that therapy can be painful. Really makes you want to go out and try it, right?
Life’s not going to ever be easy. But the idea is that you’ve probably been spending a lot of time making it harder for yourself.
I’m not blaming you. I’m not even blaming your parents. On the whole, we’re socialized to make it a lot harder than it needs to be. The Buddha figured this out: yes, there is suffering in life, but there’s a way out. Not out of pain, but out of the suffering.
So much of what people come to therapy for is to unlearn the patterns that they’ve been using for way too long to deal with stress, trauma, or less-than-perfect circumstances.
These maladaptive patterns have made the difficult things in life more difficult. The answer is to not make it easy. It’s to stop making it so damn hard.
And yes, much of therapy is about feelings. It’s about how we express our feelings and the extra work we do to hold those painful feelings in.
Where Do You Let Yourself Feel Emotions?
I come from the tradition of Strengths Based Work and find it important to start with what you’ve already been doing that’s been helpful, so take some stock right now. You, who may feel you are not “emotional” and have been told that you don’t share your feelings, what outlets do you have for your feelings? How are these emotions getting expressed now?
Is music an outlet? Making music or listening to it? Maybe it’s another form of art. Where do you feel the most comfortable and allow yourself to be you? Is this when you’re alone? Is it when you’re with someone else or with a group of particular people?
Where and when are things “easier” for you? Where do you feel “at home” and connected?
Who Gets to See You?
Lastly, who gets to see this? Is this part of you hidden from the close relationships in your life? Are you most comfortable with strangers?
What gets in the way of your letting your closest friends, your family, or your partner see this aspect of you? Maybe it’s a defense of letting people get too close. Perhaps you’ve been made fun of or shamed for who you are and you’re worried about that, or the possibility of being abandoned.
People often come to therapy to change and others in their life are wanting them to change, but sometimes, when they do, others are not so excited about it. If you do become more assertive or more boundaried, people who expect you to be a certain way, even those who love you, may regret your not being constantly present and attentive to their needs. This can lead to a shift in your relationships.
While this might be what you’ve been guarding against, you will hopefully begin to experience a more openness to relationships that are more fulfilling. That you will surround yourself with different people who fully appreciate, celebrate, and accept who you are.
Becoming who you are may not be “easy” but it is much easier than trying to be someone more acceptable to everyone else.
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