The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Going to therapy can feel daunting. After a few months of seeing multiple therapists to figure myself out, on some days, I still feel right back where I started— while on other days, I can look back fondly at how much I’ve learned. Here are the biggest (and most recurring) takeaways from my sessions and how you can incorporate them into your own self-development practice.
- Set boundaries from a calm place.
Are you in a fight with family members, a suffocating friend or significant other? While you should set boundaries for what you will and won’t do and what you will and won’t accept, you may need to check your emotional state before expressing them. In some instances, I’ve snapped at someone about how I simply wouldn’t pick up their phone calls during working hours. However, is the message getting across when I’m heated? As charged as you may feel, you will be stronger to set and uphold boundaries from a calm place. Think of a boundary that has recently been trespassed; what could you reasonably expect instead and how can you communicate that from a stable headspace?
- How can you meet your own needs?
You may often find yourself asking or waiting for someone to show up for you… To listen and affirm your insecurities, console you at the end of a stressful day, or go with you to see that cheesy movie. Rather than depending on external validation (it’s difficult, I know), how can you show up for and love yourself first? Journal out your feelings, treat yourself to a bath, take yourself on a date and go to the theatre on your own! Bringing peace to yourself can arm you with strength.
- Let your friends decide if they can be there for you.
It can sometimes feel scary to confide in friends or ask for help. Oftentimes, I wouldn’t reach out about my problems in fear of being a burden. By doing this, my therapist told me I was taking away the opportunity for my friends to decide if they wanted to help me. As always, my therapist was right: friends should have the right to hear you open up to them. Has something been weighing on your mind? Call up a friend; you can get a quick laugh or talk it all the way through.
- Have compassion for yourself.
You are not at fault for the place you’re in or the feelings you’re experiencing. On this front, I’m still learning to accept myself. Understand you are exactly where you are as a product of every instance leading up to now. You are not your mistakes. From here on, refocus your intentions to where you want to go.
- Are you reasonably taking responsibility?
Do you have to bend over backwards for somebody just because you want to seem like a reliable person? Would you have expected that person to do the same for you? If the answer is no, reevaluate whether you’re being reasonable in what you do for others. For example, are you unnecessarily doing everything in a group project because you’re hesitant to trust and delegate to others? That may be something to notice and unlearn!
- The first step is noticing.
Notice when you feel a strong emotion in your body; a flare of jealousy in your chest, the sinking feeling of shame in your stomach, or anger reddening the tips of your ears. While reacting out of your primary emotion may not be the most productive response to any situation, the first step is not actually to combat that— but to notice and accept it.
Before ending a therapy session, I was asked to think; what kind of life do you want to curate? What do you want to change personally? What does the experience of total peace feel like for you? Being clear about what you expect to deserve is a great starting point to work towards. How can you prioritize working towards that? Figure that out— a life you’re happy to accept is waiting on the other side.