The 5 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned in Therapy (So Far)
posted on March 7, 2018 | by Amanda Holstein
I think one of the reasons many people are afraid to go to therapy or turned off by the idea altogether is because they don’t truly know what to expect. Yes, therapy is a great place to voice your thoughts to an objective listener. But that’s just one small part of it, in my opinion. In therapy (I’m referring to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), you learn how to change the way you think in order to improve your quality of life. You become aware of certain thoughts, assumptions, and behaviors you’ve had your whole life and get the opportunity to not only understand why you are this way but how to change these patterns as well.
So, in order to give you a better idea of what really goes on in therapy, I thought I’d share a few key takeaways I’ve learned in my sessions over the years. Of course, these may not apply to you, but I think they’re really interesting!
1. That negative voice inside you is just a reflection of your fears.
One of the first things I learned to recognize in therapy was that negative voice we all have inside of us. You can call it your ego or the part that’s trying to protect you or the part that’s super judgemental. Either way, recognizing it can be SUPER helpful. I always just assumed that this voice was necessary—that I needed it to be my best. Well, guess what, I don’t! That voice is simply a reflection of my inner fears. It may think it’s helping me, but in the end, it just creates doubt & insecurities. I’m not saying I’ve completely erased that negative voice from my thoughts, but now that I recognize it, I have more control over it. I get to decide whether I want to listen to it.
2. It’s that other voice that reflects the true you.
This realization also helped validate that other voice inside of me, the one that disagrees with the negative voice. This is what I like to call my intuition, my instincts, or my gut. This is the voice that knows the truth, that’s you to the core. When you’re trying to make a decision, it’s this voice that knows the answer. When you’re thinking of what opinion to communicate, this is the voice that speaks the truth. Without judgments or fears, this is the voice that guides you. The more you learn to strengthen this inner voice, the more you’ll be able to connect with your authentic self—and the happier you’ll be!
3. Whatever you are feeling is valid.
Often times when we’re experiencing negative emotions, we tend to ask, “What’s wrong with me”?. Guess what? Nothing is wrong with you. These feelings are totally valid. You’re allowed to still feel sad about a breakup six months later. You’re allowed to be annoyed by something someone you love did. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling. You can’t control your feelings, you can control your thoughts & your behaviors. So let your feelings be what they are and don’t fight them.
4. You don’t have to be perfect.
One personal realization I’m still working through in therapy is the idea that I don’t have to be perfect. Now, I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to everything. I don’t need everything to be organized, I don’t need to look perfect, and I’m not super meticulous. But I do have very high standards for myself. When it comes to being intelligent, successful in my career, and a good person, sometimes it feels like those standards are impossible to reach.
With these standards comes the belief that I’m not good enough unless I reach these standards. Being told by my therapist that these high standards or this idea of perfection are impossible to reach and that nobody and nothing is perfect is a great reminder that I am enough.
5. Being nice to yourself makes everything easier.
Whether I’m experiencing anxiety, feeling some everyday frustrations, or going through something traumatic, I’ve learned how powerful self-compassion can be in these moments. We’re all incredibly hard on ourselves. It’s one thing to try and not be so hard on yourself, it’s another to actually be nice to yourself. Try showing yourself some genuine compassion, like you would to a friend when you’re going through something difficult. Tell yourself, “I know how hard this must be.” or “I’m so sorry you have to go through this.” You’ll be surprised how much this can actually make yourself feel better.
Want to hear more realizations I’ve had in therapy?
Happy to do another post! Let me know in your comments :).
Loved these! Especially that last one. Thank you for sharing!
Roger Holstein Says
Sage introspection. Proud of you
Torrey Fry Says
Love, love, love this!!!!
Jenna Condon Says
I recently just started therapy and these lessons you’ve learned could not be more accurate for my journey as well. Self care seems so simple, but there is a healthy way to do it. I’m learning to not mask my problems with Netflix which seems like “me-time,” but instead doing things with intension, Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks for sharing. Really wise tips. Yes, please, share more.
Loved this, Amanda! I’m in therapy myself and found similar good things happening in my mindspace. The therapist also often gives tips on finding my way out of the mental health problems / life problems in general I’m having that I couldn’t see myself because of how I was so confused. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing these! Therapy is SO important!
I appreciate this post so much. I’ve been feeling so many different things in regard to the loss of one of my closest friends and a breakup, all at once. I’m heavily considering therapy now.
I really enjoyed this post. I’m learning to trust my intuition more than that little pesky voice in my head. I think as we get older we realize that we should validate ourselves and treat ourselves and others the best we can. That is what I’m learning!
Shaneyqua Dotson Says
Ive been struggling with the changing the way I think this was very helpful ! Thanks for sharing I would love if you shared another.
Natalie Redman Says
Great post! Feeling super positive right now :)
One thing I learned in therapy was that I actually know everything, but I didn’t know what it meant. I told my counselor that I felt like I was grocery shopping with no bags, trying to juggle everything myself, and I’d just dump it all on him and he’d help me sort through it and read it back to me to help me hear what I couldn’t figure out on my own.
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