Once upon a time, I had an ex-boyfriend who told me I needed to see a therapist. “You should talk to someone.” He’d say when we’d argue or when we’d disagree about something I did or said.
He thought that I had issues with boundaries and commitment. He wanted more from me than I was emotionally ready to give him at 22/23 years old.
Turns out, him turning me onto the benefits of therapy is one of the better things he did for me. It was then – through that first therapist at our college- that I learned about codependency and how to acknowledge my own co-dependent tendencies and it helped me have healthier relationships later on down the road (mainly, Hubs) and see the relationships in my life for what they were (some toxic, some just… emotionally distant).
After that brief stint senior year of college, I didn’t go back to therapy until I was in my 30’s. In my early thirties, it helped me let go of toxic people, make bigger moves on my career, and manage stress as a new working mom. Later on it helped me manage my stress from work that was crippling me and driving my anxiety through the roof.
Most recently, it’s helped me manage all the stress of working from home with hubs and little man, mourn the loss of my Nana, let go of relationships I was holding onto that weren’t serving me. It’s been immensely helpful to my mental health and I firmly believe it is for everyone.
Here are my four big takeaways to have a better 2021 thanks to my therapist:
Write it down. Gratitude. Worries. Write out your thoughts rather than letting them run wild, running up your anxiety. When you’re feeling stressed, write it down. What’s going on? How are you handling your stress? This year, I vowed to start a gratitude journal and have – for the past five nights – written three things that were good. Even though this week has been immensely high stress for me, I want to find the good and write it down. What’s causing my anxiety and how can I better manage it? Writing it down – which is something I’ve done in the past but got back to after my therapists’s suggstions – has been huge at helping me manage my stress.
- Prioritize Yourself
Self-care isn’t just a trendy term about skincare and bath bombs. It’s about taking care of yourself. Many of us – especially moms – forget to take care of ourselves amidst ensuring everyone else is happy. Find your own happy and make it a priority. For me, that’s running, reading, and writing. I’m prioritizing the things that make me happy. But make time to turn off and do something for yourself whatever that person it is. It’s a bit of a cliche that we use in Body Back but cliches are that way for a reason – you have to fill your own cup.
- Change Your Expectations
One of the challenges I have is setting unrealistic expectations for myself, and for others. I’ve learned to stop dwelling on my disappointments – in myself and others – and to accept things as they are. If you change your expectations and find the good, you can save yourself stress and disappointment.
- Acknowledge Your Own Faults
We go to therapy to improve ourselves. Often that starts with acknowledging that we’re not perfect and acknowledging and accepting our own role in failed relationships, failed friendships. Acknowledging my own weaknesses is one of the biggest things I’ve gained from my ventures into therapy. We’re not perfect people. We can try our damnedest but we’re not. Yes, anxiety is a medical condition but for me, I’ve also acknowledged my own possible ADD, my inability to start things because of a crippling fear of failure and terrible procrastination tendencies; my therapist has really given me some coping mechanisms that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise thought of and while I will NEVER be a perfect person, finding our own weaknesses and faults – especially ones that have a recurring role in our anxiety like mine – is progress that we should all work towards.
I do think that therapy is beneficial for most people – though you have to have an open mind. Not everything is rainbows and kittens and you have to be open to making changes in yourself and accepting to see outside yourself and your own tunnel visioned mindset.