Lessons I’ve Learned in Therapy

Today I’m admitting something that’s kind of hard because of a stigma attached to it: I tried therapy. And actually, so far, it’s working wonders. I’ve learned that many people suffer from anxiety, which I had no clue was so common, and reading others’ brave posts made me want to share my own experience.

These are some of the most helpful takeaways I’ve gotten from therapy, so far.

  • I cannot change the past and I cannot control the future.
  • I should not dwell on the unknown.
  • I cannot control other people’s actions or feelings and I shouldn’t give them the power to control mine.
  • Someone else’s opinion does not have to become my truth.
  • Other people’s actions are not a reflection of me.
  • I control my own decisions. I should never feel bad for what other people might think of me or what I do.
  • My feelings are never bad, and I shouldn’t feel shame, as long as I don’t act negatively on the bad feelings or thoughts.
  • Assertiveness is a set of skills, not a type of person. Like most skills, it can be learned and chosen when to be used. Just like something in your tool set — it’s there when you need it and put away when you don’t.
  • In times of panic, trick your mind out of its natural flight-or-fight response and force yourself to think rationally by breaking down all scenarios and making them manageable.
  • (Unhealthy) Worrying is a waste of time.
  • Life is too short to do things that do not bring you joy.
  • It’s OK to say no. It’s OK to prioritize what you need.

At the recommendation of my therapist, when I start overanalyzing and worrying, I ask myself simple questions. The easiest one is, “So?” The other is “Why does that matter so much to me?” These questions help me break down scenarios, see the big picture and get past the mental block and to the root of my insecurities. So what if this person doesn’t like me? Is it the end of the world? In which areas can I take control?

At one point I realized I was over-committed and under-delivering on almost all my obligations. But admitting that you can’t do it all is the first powerful step to regaining control. You just have to choose to do it. You shuffle things around, you re-prioritize, and like Tim Gunn would advise, you “make it work.”

Have you ever tried therapy? What tips do you have?

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