When you hear the phrase “I need therapy,” it doesn’t exactly bring with it the best connotations. Mental health, even though it’s talked about increasingly more often in the media, is still kind of a taboo topic. As a society, we don’t talk about having anxiety or a mental breakdown (except in the most sarcastic or ironic terms). Needing therapy feels weird and brave to say, but I don’t think any of us should feel bad about wanting or needing it.
I’ve had a couple different kinds of therapy within my life, from mourning support to whatever emotional early-20’s support that I have now. Each has been different and helpful in their own ways. But the one that really has helped me personally is the current system I’m in now. I talk with a virtual therapist in the USA so I can have someone closer to my own culture even as I live in the Netherlands. Sure, it’s just an hour Skype chat a week – but I have never felt as mentally conscious about my own actions as I do now. Here’s what I’ve learned:
It’s okay to be upset, angry and sad.
Perhaps this is just something personal to me, but I find I tell myself often to stop feeling what I’m feeling. Of course, I didn’t think of it as that. When you’re upset or going through something difficult, it can be hard to accept the fact that it’s perfectly okay to be unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are all unhappy or sad at one point or another in life, and it’s healthy to acknowledge that you are feeling a certain way.
Handling your problems, whatever they may be, is about accepting what you feel as valid.
Each of us has problems or issues. Maybe you see a therapist or maybe you don’t. The commonality, I think, is that whatever you feel is valid. You often hear, “Don’t be sad,” or “That’s a stupid thing to be angry about.” That can be true, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel that way in the present moment. Validate your own feelings before moving onto why you feel that way and moving forward to see how you can adapt.
Sometimes things don’t serve you in life, and it’s healthy to let go of them.
When habits turn into routine, it’s hard to let things go. Certain activities or behaviors might seem normal, even if they are ultimately unhealthy for you. Of course, you are the only person who can ultimately decide what serves you best, whether that is yoga class in the morning or sleeping in an extra hours because your body needs it. It hurts. But getting rid of habits or particular lifestyles that hurt you or don’t serve you can be the healthiest course of action to take.
What does it mean to be in therapy or have a therapist? It depends for everyone. But for me, I find that talking with my therapist is like having a sounding board where I can air some of my most personal worries and concerns without the doubt that someone will say I’m silly for saying such things. She’s a person I can talk to without emotionally dumping on my close friends and someone who I trust to listen to me and help me be a more mentally healthy individual.
What do you think yogis? Do you have a therapist or experienced therapy? What have you learned?