Therapy Gives Me Power No One Can Take Away
Once upon a time I felt fine! Well put-together and living the best version of me, I was pretty fantastic! I’d heard of mental health therapy, but that was for people with big problems. Granted, there were probably a couple tiny things I could improve here and there, but nothing I needed to lay on someone’s couch for while I sobbed into tissues about my issues. Not interested! If I encountered road blocks in life I was smart enough to figure them out. I’d dodge, adjust and roll with the punches. After a persuasive self-pep talk, I’d then wait for people to change their ways, and stand by for opportunities to float in my direction. I could always count on life’s pendulum to eventually swing my way. Ebbs and flows baby, ebbs and flows.
But a couple of years ago I experienced an extra rough season with no end in sight and entered an uncharted river of perpetual disappointment. Something was wrong. The pendulum wasn’t rotating my way often enough and helplessness became a familiar companion. Good and stuck in a funk, I figured I’d pop in for a couple of therapy sessions, reset my attitude, and be on my way. But that “pop in” lead to so much more. It was the first day of a mental health journey that would change everything.
I sought therapy looking to change my situation, but instead learned how to change me. After several sessions, it became evident that my prior self had some major blind-spots and stunted growth. People weren’t the problem. Situations weren’t the problem. My issue was that I was always waiting for change instead of being the change I needed. Unbeknownst to me, I often showed up to my life as a back-seat passenger — fully unaware, yet naively complacent in my own powerlessness. At times, my ride didn’t even show, and I found myself on the curb wishing for any old jalopy to scoop me up.
Motivated and eager to be more than just a passenger waiting on a Lyft, I committed to a weekly therapy plan that ultimately pushed me into the driver’s seat of my life and taught me how to grab the pendulum myself.
Mental health therapy didn’t just help me through my issues, it introduced me to my utmost inner potential. It offered me a unique and guided process to identifying my weaknesses, adopting new ways to move, and emerging as a stronger, wiser me. Repeating this cycle over the course of many sessions lead me to discover a nutrient-rich well of untapped power buried deep inside of me — power that I now tap into daily to experience wisdom, purpose and peace.
How does therapy give me power?
Therapy gives me something to do. Doing something, anything at all, gives me power. I used to waste time focusing on all the things I couldn’t do, and hoped everyone else did their part to change my situation. Instead, therapy challenges me to be the CEO of my life and shift the things I can control. Therapy helps me to develop alternative ways to think and act that get me closer to my intended outcome. With professional support, I practice better behaviors, healthier ways to manage my feelings, and more effective strategies for addressing conflict. Today, I don’t have the time, patience, or desire to wait on someone else to move. I roll up my sleeves and get to work on what I can do to change my situation. Doing is power.
Therapy helps me decide where I’m going. Choosing my own destination and following the path I set forth is power. In the past, I often lumped my feelings together without taking the time to analyze if they were even accurate or what they meant. This shortcut meant I often worked off of misinformation that lead me straight to a bridge to nowhere. Therapy helps me ping a clear location of where I am and exactly how I feel, and challenges me to imagine where I truly want to be. I’m learning the art of mindfulness and how to observe my feelings without judgment. A quick and accurate self-diagnostic scan means I can focus more time on solutions and forward-thinking. Awareness is power.
Therapy teaches me lanes, boundaries, and exit ramps. Adhering to the ‘rules of my road’ gives me power. Dazed at the wheel, I once used to bear other’s feelings, allow people to cross my boundaries, and linger in toxic situations. I’d also shrink myself to accommodate someone else’s bad behavior. Therapy teaches me the confidence to separate myself from others and stand tall in my truth. I’m developing the humility to grant my own feelings without suppression and the integrity to own my bad behavior without blaming others. I am crafting the discipline to protect my boundaries like a moat to a castle. Finally, I am becoming the courage needed to gracefully exit hurtful situations without stringing myself along in a bottomless pit of false hope. Smart navigation is power.
Therapy offers new paths, pivots and perspectives. A smoother way to move is power. I used to find myself spinning in circles, hitting familiar potholes and looping negative thoughts. I’d often say I felt “stuck.” Therapy helps me identify dead-ends and pave smoother paths in advance. My therapist often presents alternate routes and perspectives I would have never considered on my own and sheds light on the blind-spots dimmed by my own ego and naivety. The fresh perspectives help me ascend to roads less traveled and far easier to navigate. The elevation of self is intoxicating! “Unsticking” myself and moving down the road is power.
Therapy teaches me the importance of regular self-maintenance. Healing is power. Therapy encourages me to better care for my mind, body, and spirit. My old ride was problematic and the oil light stayed on. I routinely found myself slumped over on life’s shoulder because I was chronically fatigued and in dire need of repair. Therapy helped to uncover the self-care areas I had neglected and granted me the guilt-free permission to make my maintenance a priority. Every week my therapist helps me discover new ways to care for myself. From pampering to socializing, to simply carving out quiet time to think alone, I am learning to intentionally engage in activities that recharge my battery. Self-care is power.
My mental health therapy journey wasn’t like the portrayal I saw on TV. It was tailored to fit my personality and exact needs. I am so grateful it lead to the discovery of mindfulness and personal power. After I crossed my rough days, I kept attending sessions to report out on the good seasons as well. Gone are the days that I am sitting in the backseat and waiting on life to move me around like a chess piece — I am chauffeuring myself to where I need to be.
I certainly can’t control all the scenery and the unexpected barriers that sometimes occur. But now I am prepared with an arsenal of tools and the confidence needed to remain in the driver’s seat of my life. I’m betting on me to “use what I got to get what I want.” From here on out, one thing is certain: I am driving with the windows rolled down and the music turned up. I am change, I am power.
I dedicate this post to the amazing therapist that has poured so much into me, and to anyone inspired to give their own mental health the attention it needs.
Thanks for reading! -Ki
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Post originally published on Sassy Plum