It’s not until we pull back that outer layer, the covering, that we discover what’s truly going on inside.-Sherelle Gilbert
I’m a mess ya’ll. And I’m not just saying that, it’s true. I deal with bouts of depression and anxiety. I struggle with fear, insecurities and self-doubt. I tend to hold things in and internalize issues. I was first introduced to therapy back when I was in college shortly after my grandmother passed away. Being a social work major, therapy was always talked about and one of the requirements of my undergrad social work program was to go through an interview where the professors of the department interviewed you to determine your readiness for graduation and the wonderful world of social work. I remember them asking what was one of my biggest challenges and how I overcame and I burst into tears. I was dealing with the loss of my grandmother and it was so hard, the first time I dealt with the death of someone so close. They recommended that I seek therapy and that was when I was first introduced.
Self-awareness and accountability
Therapy allows you to trace the root of behaviors so you can be self-aware.-Melissa Fredricks, @mrskevonstage
What I’ve come to learn about therapy is that it creates self-awareness and accountability. Once you become aware of your behaviors and the root of those behaviors, you become accountable to them. You literally have no excuse for your behaviors once you become aware of what you do and why you do it. I think that’s why many haven’t gone to therapy or feel like they don’t need it. It’s work. Becoming self aware and making the decision to change is hard work. It requires stepping outside of your comfort zone, acknowledging your hurts and mistakes and taking control by making the necessary behavior changes with the help of God.
One thing about me is that I am very self-aware and in tune with my feelings. I often over analyze my behaviors in an effort to understand why I do what I do and to discover the root. I still go to therapy not only because I’m a mess but because I want to work on my mess so that it doesn’t permeate my marriage and the lives of my future children. I truly believe that our childhood traumas, our mental health issues, our matters of the flesh (sins) that we don’t deal with are passed down to our children and children’s children and become their problems (Deuteronomy 5). Maybe you yell at your children because your mom yelled at you; maybe you’re so quick to anger because your father had anger management issues; maybe you’re a control freak because you saw your mom do everything on her own without help. Many of us are dealing with the undealt with issues of our parents that have now taken root in our lives and have become our issues. That’s where that self-awareness and accountability that therapy creates comes in. When we become aware of our behaviors and the root cause, we are then held accountable. It’s not until we decide to make a change that those “generational curses” end.
Desire to learn a new way
The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.– Albert Einstein
Through therapy I’ve learned so much about myself and it’s created a desire in me to learn a new way of doing things. An example is communication. I have never been good at expressing my feelings out loud, I do that best through writing but at some point I do have to talk lol. I’ve learned that one of the key ingredients of a good marriage is communication, but how do you do that when you really don’t know how to communicate? How do you express how you feel honestly and assertively without anxiety over how it will be received? Because I didn’t know how to do that effectively (and still working on it, just being honest), it was showing up in my marriage and other areas of my life and causing so much miscommunication and confusion. I guess I struggled with this for majority of my life, but it didn’t show up or really reveal itself until marriage – another reason why therapy is so necessary especially before marriage; those undealt with issues will show up at your doorstep with bags in hand ready to wreak havoc.
I was used to my same old way of communicating which really was a mix between being passive aggressive and holding stuff in, not speaking on it, hoping someone would miraculously see how I felt, but if they didn’t it was okay. God showed me that where he’s taking me, what He has in store for me and my family, I couldn’t continue in that old habit (or any of the other habits he has revealed to me). I had to learn a new way.
Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.– Tori Amos
It goes without saying, or at least for me it does, but therapy brings about healing. Sometimes you go in prepared to talk about one area of your life and then you are led into an area you didn’t even think was affecting you. I’ve said it so many times but EVERYONE needs therapy at some point in their life. If you’ve gone through life thus far and have yet to speak with a therapist or counselor, I strongly encourage it. There’s literally no way you can go through life, experiencing all that you’ve experienced, and not release it in a positive, neutral, judgment free setting. It’s literally like going through life never having visited a doctor or having a car and never getting it maintenanced. At some point an issue is going to arise and you’re going to have to deal with it. Mental health is just as important as physical health as the mental contributes to the physical. How you feel mentally affects how you feel physically. True healing comes from dealing with ALL of what’s going on even though no one can see it, not just the parts that are showing and we are comfortable with addressing.
I’ve learned that prayer plus therapy equals healing. So often we’ve heard that we just have to “pray away” those mental health issues. While prayer does change things, so does action. We know that faith without works is dead and I truly believe when it comes to mental health, the works is therapy. We can’t stop at identifying our mental health needs, we have to put in the work to address and deal with them. We also can’t weaponize mental health using it as our excuse for behaviors or defense against constructive feedback because once you’ve identified the issue, you are now held accountable for working towards healing.
I, again, want to encourage anyone who is dealing with some things and in need of healing to seek counseling. There are so many options available for therapy, it’s just a matter of searching and finding the right therapist for you. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help from someone who God put in a position to provide therapy. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and one of the greatest components of emotional, mental, and spiritual healing.