There are few things in life we can be certain of.
But one thing we can be certain of, is our good old trusty friend ‘fear’, will show up whenever we have an idea, a want, a yearning, a desire (whatever you want to call it) to experience something new in our lives.
And unfortunately, seeking therapy is no exception.
Before I dive into the 3 fears that stood in my way of seeking therapy, I want to put fear into a bit of context because feeling fear is absolutely normal and natural, but often we misinterpret the sign of fear as a sign not to do something we want to do.
Therefore, stopping us in our tracks before we even get started.
A few individuals considered to be change makers in the personal development space, from Marie Forleo (Founder of Marie TV and author of ‘Everything is Figureoutable‘) to Elizabeth Gilbert (Author of ‘Eat Pray Love’ and ‘Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear’) to Brene Brown (Author of Gifts of Imperfection, Rising strong, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead) have all confessed fear is a trusty companion to them, when they choose to do something new and (perhaps never been done before) in their lives.
To help unpick this for you, therefore, I want to refer to Brene Brown’s research on vulnerability because when we experience fear it’s because we know (on an unconscious level) we’ll be venturing into unknown territory where there are no certainties or guarantees just like when seeking love and belonging.
Therefore, making us feel incredibly vulnerable and exposed and can be difficult for us to do as humans, as we want nothing more than safety and security.
I certainly identify with this with every blog post I write and post, feeling a wave of anxiety come over me as I question whether I have revealed too much and consider retracting what I have put out into the world.
After seeking therapy, however, I now remember this fear is an old pattern resurfacing in me and the anxiety I feel is because I feel vulnerable to criticism and judgement from others.
To further unpick fear, I wanted to quote a paragraph from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which I heard Marie Forleo read aloud in her Youtube video called Unlock Your Creative Genius: 4 Inspiring Books to Read NOW …
Are you paralysed with fear, that’s a good sign, fear is good, like self-doubt, fear is an indicator, fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb, the more scared we are of a work or calling the more sure we can be that we have to do it. Resistance is experienced as fear. The degree of fear equates to the strength of resistance, therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul, that’s why we feel so much resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there would be no resistance.
Have you ever watched inside the actors studio, the host James Lipton invariably asks his guests ‘what factors make you decide to take a particular role?’ The actor always answers, because I’m afraid of it. The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch, he takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself. Is he scared? Hell yes, he’s petrified, conversely the professional turns downs role’s that he’s done before. He’s not afraid of them anymore, why waste his time?
Whilst this book was written for individuals pursuing a creative dream in mind, I believe this quote also applies to the act of seeking therapy too.
For instance, I’d actually considered getting therapy a year or so before I eventually took the plunge to, but decided against it, because of three fears standing in my way in particular.
It was only because I got to a stage in my life where I could no longer deny my need for therapy (combined with the fact that the thought to seek therapy wouldn’t leave me alone) that I eventually did decide to see a therapist.
It is now in hindsight that I can see how seeking therapy was needed for the ‘growth of my soul’, as it is hands down the best decision I have ever made in my life, as it helped me to explore ‘unconscious parts of myself’ so I could create a life I love.
Therefore, as you read through my own fears below, note down if and how they apply to you and if they don’t apply to you, think about how you yourself might be resisting therapy out of fear, so you can decide whether seeking therapy will help with the ‘growth of your soul’.
So without further ado, the first out of three fears that stood between me and a better life when deciding to seek therapy was…
1) The cost
At the time I decided to get therapy I was on a salary of 13k and lived with my family so I was fortunate enough not to need to pay rent.
Whilst my expenditure costs were lower than most since I wasn’t renting, living on a salary of 13k was still difficult for me as I wanted so badly to get out of the working class lifestyle; to get out of the cycle of ‘not being able to afford’ a lot of the things I wanted and needing to be careful with my money by saving.
Therefore, when it came to therapy I too was convinced ‘I couldn’t afford’ therapy, yet was able to spend my money on items that weren’t adding any value to my life, like clothes.
This, I now see from reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, was because the belief and mantra ‘I can’t afford that’ and ‘I need to save money’ circulating my mind over and over again, meant I couldn’t see all the potential ways ‘I could afford’ to get therapy.
For instance, through checking my expenditure and seeing where I could make savings so I could prioritise seeing a therapist.
What I failed to realise by only focusing on the cost, therefore, was the potential value seeing a therapist would bring to my life.
That is, helping me to find; the true me, not the me who bent myself to fit in and please other people; not the me who held tightly to ideals like working class, educational background, culture; my souls purpose and mission in life (this blog) and the confidence, acceptance, understanding and love of myself and others.
Qualities, by the way, which were already present in me, but I couldn’t tap into because the thoughts and feelings that circulated my mind over and over again told me, I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I was stupid etc.
Albeit, at the time I didn’t know these were going to be the benefits.
It was only through engaging with therapy I was able to realise the benefits and why it’s important for you to engage with therapy too by going to your GP and asking for a list of private therapists in your area. This will ensure you choose a therapist practice of the highest and best standards.
Don’t wait, like I did, for your mental health to get to a stage where you’re in deep suffering and can’t deny the need to see a therapist anymore.
Seek out a therapist today.
2) What will I have to say each week
The second loudest fear running through my mind over and over again, was ‘what will I have to say each week’.
This fear led to thoughts, such as, ‘I can’t say this or that’ due to fear of embarrassment and shame of what the therapist would think of my disclosures; emotions and thoughts I had grown accustomed to thinking and feeling as I was raised to believe it was not safe to share my thoughts and feelings with others.
As time went by, however, finding something to talk about each week wasn’t as difficult as I first thought it would be, since even the smallest of disclosures (what I was thinking, feeling and experiencing over a particular week) was something my therapist was able to expand on, in order to, make me feel understood, heard, know and seen, rather than judged and criticised.
Thus, helping to build a place of safety for me to share every thought and feeling I was having.
Eventually, I got to a place where I felt comfortable with my therapist to be able to enter therapy sessions with the mindset of, not knowing whether my disclosure was relevant or not, but I was going to disclose it anyway, in case it was worth raising.
In taking that bold step, my therapist was able to confirm whether, what I was thinking and feeling, was indeed worth raising, and in all cases (without a shadow of a doubt), I found they were worth raising.
3) I knew it, I knew there was something wrong with me
The last (but by absolutely no means least), fear I encountered before committing to seeing a therapist was that it confirmed there was ‘something wrong with me’.
This belief, in hindsight, I now realise was because I judged, criticised and compared who I believed I was, to who I believed others to be, and because who I believed I was and who I believed others to be, didn’t match up, I came to the conclusion this meant there was something wrong with me.
Therapy, however, with time (two years and a half to be exact) helped me to recognise there was nothing wrong with me.
What was wrong, were the interpretations I was making and the beliefs I was forming as a result of my experiences.
Consequently, helping me to see this belief (and many of my other beliefs), weren’t true.
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