So I get it, therapy is hard and it’s not easy coming to terms that we might need some additional help. Maybe you know help is needed, but you don’t know how to get started, or you hope this storm will pass.
Even worse, if you’re anything like me where perfection is the end game then therapy is the kryptonite to your own self-image. Spoiler: perfection doesn’t exist…but try and explain that to my ego.
But here’s the thing, therapy isn’t “anti-perfection” or “pro-failure” it’s solution-driven, validation-enriched, and wholeness at the end of the yellow brick road. Therapy can be used to solve:
- relationship struggles 🙋🏻
- roadblocks we’ve built up in our lives 🙋🏻
- understanding why we respond the way we do 🙋🏻
- prevention and future happiness 🙋🏻
I’ve done them all and I’m not here to claim it’s easy, fun, or sexy. It’s hard, it’ll run you through the wringer, and then push you down the mountain you thought you’d already conquered.
I genuinely believe it’s the bravest thing a person can do—show up for undetermined change, raw, and vulnerable to “do the work.” That shit takes courage!!! But in the end, you’ll be a more self-aware, confident, whole version of yourself.
But before you can get started, you have to overcome your brain’s defenses for self-protection and comfort.
So here’s an incomplete and totally relatable list of ways we sabotage our motivation to grow.
1. I’ll get to it later
Honestly, you won’t.
You know that pile of mail you’re supposed to go through that just sits there? Yep, it’s like that.
As one of my favorite Disney quotes says “if somebody says later, it really means not ever.” What this really is, is avoidance—so stop your procrastination and take the plunge!
2. What I’m dealing with isn’t that bad
This one could be true, but why are you minimizing your problems in the first place?
Therapy is for self-reflection, growth, and insight. As your therapist, I’m not trying to “fix” anything— ‘cause you’re not broken! So problems that aren’t “that bad” are good, that means we don’t have to wait for the dust to settle to get to work, we can just roll up our sleeves and start!
3. It’s not going to change anything/it won’t help me
You’re right. If this is where your heads at, therapy won’t help you.
Therapy only works when you’re invested in the process and believe in your power to create change in your life. If you think therapy won’t do anything, goodness, how you’re wrong!
It may not change your financial stress (been there! 🙋🏻), the amount of work your boss expects of you, how your sister talks to you, or the systematic ways people in minority groups are oppressed.
BUT therapy can validate these experiences and find healthy, proactive ways to set boundaries. Not only this, but it’ll also highlight ways that you comply or feed into the systems you’re so frustrated with!
4. I don’t have any “real” problems
A big misconception is that people only go to therapy for huge problems.
That’s true, often because people delay therapy until they’ve exhausted all their other support systems (friends, coworkers, family, journaling, etc.) and their problems are still happening and probably have worsened over time. That’s where I come in!
It doesn’t have to be that way—people think I can’t go to therapy because it’s “too extreme” or “other people need it more than me” but problems are problems! You may not have trauma, or divorced parents, or been divorced yourself, or even been bullied when you were younger.
“Typical” lives and circumstances still have stress, create anxiety, and have roadblocks that can use support. How are you classifying “real” anyway?
Every single human walking this Earth has had ups and downs, unpredictable moments (2020 anyone?), and feared the unknown. I’m here to help navigate through your undetermined future alongside you.
5. I don’t want to share my whole story again
Do I know how annoying this can be! I just want to get to work and I want it solved now! I am a type-A person; planner, fixer, doer (hint: anxiety is hiding under there)—I don’t have time to explain it all, let me just do it myself!
On the flip side, I’m also not that vulnerable (gasp! A therapist who isn’t willing to be vulnerable!? …don’t worry, I’m in therapy for it!). So the idea of retelling the painful moments of my past sounds uncomfortable, exhausting, and tedious.
But telling your story; your most vulnerable, painful stories is incredibly healing. To slow down and share the events in your life that have shaped who you are, feels unbelievably powerful and takes a weight off.
Even though you’re dreading it (trust me, I feel ya), trust that good can come from it, sometimes pain too, but good will come.
6. “That’s what friends are for!”
No, they’re not.
Let me just say, friends (even therapist friends like mine!) are not here to hold your shit.
- YES, you should involve them in your life
- YES, you should tell them truthfully what’s going on
- YES, they can help you make hard decisions.
But they in no way do they take the place of a therapist.
Connection and vulnerability are the cornerstones to healing, so yeah, use your friends when going through rough times, you need them!
But remember, they’re going through their own shit too. They shouldn’t be on speed dial any time anything bad, annoying, infuriating, or anxiety-provoking happens.
It is your job to be able to hold that stuff for a time where it’s appropriate and they have the emotional capacity to hear you.
If this sounds impossible…therapy will help you out!
7. “A therapist is a friend you pay for, no thanks!”
Honestly, read above. Your therapist is not your friend, and if you’re confused by that, you may be reading into your relationship too much (or your therapist isn’t providing enough boundaries).
Does your therapist care about you,
a b s o l u t e l y !
Try sitting in a room for an hour hearing someone’s most intimate thoughts, feelings, and stories then tell me how you don’t care about them. Impossible! So don’t read into this like you’re not important, you are.
We don’t sign up to be therapists not to care for the clients we see!
But the professional expectation and our code of ethics warn the limits of the relationship, because if our care goes too far before it can cause harm to the client (aka, no friendships!).
8. I’m too busy
Of course, you are! What part of our modern world is not scheduled?
…well maybe quarantine has changed that a bit!
Examine your daily schedule; if it’s jammed packed and spilling over with to-do lists and jobs not yet completed, that’s a big signifier that you’re overscheduling to avoid feeling.
It may be that by overscheduling you don’t need to look more closely at problems in your relationships, or that having free time drives up your anxiety for no reason (hint: there’s a reason). Maybe you’re so ambitious and can “do it all” that you’ve created a life unsustainable for the long term.
Now more than ever fitting in therapy is as easy as sitting in front of your computer or staring at your phone.
Seriously, check, how many hours a day your phone is reporting you’re staring at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or playing candy crush?
Yeah—you can fit therapy in and, take it from me, I am truly not noticing a difference between telehealth and therapy in person. The only difference is I can’t tell if my clients are tearing up…which is a plus for them! 😉
9. It’s embarrassing, what will people think?
First off, the conversation around mental health is changing. So it’s unlikely that there is much shame or judgment by others. *That may be untrue for people with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (we’ll process that in therapy).
Second, you never have to tell anyone!
In my opinion, going to therapy is one of the strongest things you can do. It takes so much courage to take the plunge and start.
But therapy is literally an investment in yourself. Read that again: therapy is literally an investment in yourself!
You are making a statement to you, and the world, that you are worthy of care and attention, and are deserving of happiness and growth.
What is so embarrassing about that!?
10. It’s too expensive
You’re right, therapy can be too expensive.
It is often criticized that many people don’t have access to these resources due to its’ cost and I 100% agree! I could go on and on about the access to mental health services for underserved communities, people of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and the list goes on and on…but that’s for another post.
Yes, it’s a big commitment to add to your monthly bills but if you can swing it, I’d argue it’s worth it.
Just last year my husband and I had taken all other frivolous spendings from our habits so that we could continue with our therapist. We weren’t making enough to comfortably afford our monthly bills.
But the value we found in seeing our therapist weekly was more important than the luxury of some treats at the grocery store. I know that sounds silly, but not more than a year ago, these were the decisions we were having to make.
I’m biased here, but I truly can’t think of a better way to spend money than investing in your future happiness.
I mean, isn’t that what life’s about; searching for meaning, growth, connection, and pursuing happiness?
Therapy provides just that.
11. It’ll get better, I just need to get through (insert phase of life here)
Here’s the thing, that “problem” you hope is gonna get better;
- He’ll calm down after he gets a job
- I’ll be less stressed after the baby’s born 😅
- When COVID is over it’ll be easier
It’s likely not going to get better.
We have ups and downs in life, true. But the way we respond to those ups and downs is the key to long term peace.
He’ll calm down after he gets a job—maybe! But his response to the job search is what you’ll see in a few months, or year when he’s stressed about something else.
So what does that mean for you?
You can’t control the stress levels of others, true. But therapy will examine how it affects you, what boundaries you can create to protect yourself or your relationship, and how you relate or understand what your partner’s going through.
It’s never one thing, it’ll show up again and again in cycles, it’s up to you to jam a stick in the gears to stop it.