The way we treat anything in life, whether a person, material belongings, pets, plants etc. determines the value and importance we place on them. And the same goes with how we treat therapy too.
So, if changing your life and being happier is important and matters to you, then it’s important you treat therapy in the right way to be able to see the results you want to see in your life. Therefore, what I’ll be talking more about how you can do in this post here.
I treated therapy like it was second rate to everything else that was going on (and wasn’t going on) in my life.
And if you’re not…
a) seeing results in your life working with a therapist
b) aren’t seeing as many results as you would like to see in your life right now working with a therapist; or
c) aren’t sure what results to expect to see when working with a therapist
You too might unknowingly be seeing (and treating) therapy as second rate to everything else that’s going on (or isn’t going on) in your life right now.
Let me explain.
Seeing and treating therapy as second rate
You see, I knew therapy was important to me and that it was a priority.
Since I could see it was making a difference to me and my life and I could feel it in my body as I found a sense of relief in being able to share my struggles with someone who provided me with the reassurance and understanding I needed, to be able to feel better about my particular life situation.
Which I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Therefore, making me feel a lot happier than when I wasn’t working with a Counselling Psychotherapist.
However, there was a point, as I talk about more in my post 3 TOOLS TO GROW OUTSIDE THERAPY SESSIONS, where I wasn’t seeing lasting change and massive transformational shifts in me as I had when I first began working with a Counselling Psychotherapist so my progress stagnated.
And I couldn’t understand why.
That is, until Covid-19 hit and it changed everything for me.
In particular, helping me to see that whilst therapy was a priority to me, it wasn’t THE main priority in my life, which in other words means, I also wasn’t making myself a priority in my own life either.
Therefore, it’s what I realised on my own personal journey working with a therapist during this difficult time, that I want to share with you in this post, in the hope it will shed light on where you might be able to rethink how you’re seeing and treating therapy yourself so you can see more results than you’ve ever seen before.
So let’s get started.
How I saw and treated therapy as second rate before Covid-19?
By nature, if you’re choosing (whether consciously or not) not to make something a main priority in your life, you’re choosing to make something else the main priority in your life.
Therefore, for me unsurprisingly, it was my work and my working life, which I became accustomed to putting first, above anything else in my life, whether it was with my friendships, family relationships, working relationships, passions and motivations etc.
Since it’s where I felt my most comforable, but even then I still felt uncomfortable.
But since my perception was that it was easier for me to put my focus and attention on my work than it was on my relationships, in my mind it had become so, even though that wasn’t true.
Since everything in life requires work. And anything that supposedly doesn’t require any work is simply an illusion of the mind, that’s been created to keep us safe.
Treating therapy as second rate by putting my work first
On the outside looking in, I know this looks like it makes sense since without an income I wouldn’t have been able to afford the therapy sessions.
But, it was the very thing, which was holding me back from progressing my therapy sessions, and thus my life, forward.
Since I was using it as an excuse to avoid taking on responsibility for what I was truly thinking and feeling about myself and my life.
Including, all the bits that left me feeling like I hated my life, such as my relationship with certain family members, and my decision to engage in particular activities over others.
Treating therapy second rate: How I used my work and working life to avoid taking on responsibility?
In practice, therefore, what this looked like was I’d turn up to sessions each week, make an attempt at implementing the advice, guidance, recommendations, tools and practices given to me.
Feeling all fired up and motivated to begin with.
But then I’d quickly forget about them as I let my full-time job, the people at my full-time job and the situations taking place at my full-time job, get in the way of me putting therapy FIRST and really implementing the advice, guidance, recommendations, tools and practices given to me so I could see progress.
Then when I wasn’t at work, I was looking for different events to attend so I didn’t have to spend much time at home.
And the truth is, sometimes there were recommendations made that I simply did not want to specifically do because of how they made me feel, but didn’t see how these were anything to be alarmed about.
But which Covid-19 forced me to look more into, such as, spending more time with and around certain family members, as it too likely would have forced you to do too.
Moving from seeing and treating therapy as second rate to first rate
So my point here is yes being forced to stay at home was the catalyst for moving my transformation forward, however, it wasn’t the only catalyst.
It was also the recognition that therapy and all that came along with it (the tools, advice, guidance and recommendations) needed to be treated as first-rate (i.e. the main priority) above anything else if I was serious about experiencing change and transformation in my life.
And that’s not to say we need to be forced to stay at home due to a pandemic for us to be able to make ‘staying at home’ possible for us, going forward. Instead, we can consciously and consistently (daily and weekly) choose over and over again, to make it an intention of ours, because there’s no doubt about it, our lives will get busy again once we go back to normality.
Of course, not to the same extreme, but to the degree that the silence and solitude, which can be found from being alone and staying at home, is necessary for our personal development and growth whilst working with a therapist.
What does treating therapy as first-rate mean for you?
Therefore, what it means to treat therapy as first-rate for you is, to see and treat therapy as though it is your full-time, permanent job, above the one you may, or may not already have.
So it’s not something you can waver, it’s not something you can quit after a short time, it’s not something you can put on the back burner, it’s not something you can simply do and then forget about while you’re away from therapy sessions.
It’s a must with everything else going on and not going on in your life, to be fitted around IT (not the other way around).
Similarly to how you would treat your life’s purpose and mission in this world.
And if you do already have a full-time permanent job, which gets in the way of you treating therapy like a full-time, permanent job, finding a way to let it go so you too can make therapy first-rate in your life.
Because you matter and so does your personal and professional development.
Why is it important to treat therapy as a full-time, permanent job?
Seeing and treating therapy like a full-time, permanent job is important because as the saying goes, you get out what you put in.
So, the more time, effort and dedication you put into participating in the therapy process, the more you’ll likely get out of it.
But what exactly is the therapy process? And how do you ‘trust in the process’?
How to treat therapy: The therapy process and trusting in the therapy process
Essentially, the therapy process is what you may already be doing.
That is, the act of turning up to weekly sessions, talking about the challenges you’re facing and trying as hard as possible (because it’s not easy for anybody) to implement the advice, guidance, recommendations, tools and practices given to you.
Whilst trusting these actions will have a bigger purpose in your life than you are able to see in this particular moment in time.
And will eventually bring you to your ultimate goals in life, which is to live a happier, healthier, more meaningful, fulfilling and satisfying life.
The similarities between how you treat a full-time, permanent job and how you treat therapy
To be able to treat therapy as a full-time permanent job, further, you need to know what the similarities between therapy and having a full-time permanent job are.
Especially if you’ve perhaps not yet worked a full-time permanent job before (See HOW DO I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO? (AN ULTIMATE GUIDE) for more).
So, what are the similarities?
When you begin a full-time, permanent job you don’t expect that you’re going to know everything from the start.
In fact, you go along each day with the work activities given to you, asking questions as you go along until you are able to form a bigger picture in your mind, of what your role at an organisation is and what exactly it is the organisation itself does.
And you understand this is the nature of starting a new job at a new organisation.
How to approach therapy with understanding?
Therapy, in essence is the same.
When you first start having sessions, you don’t expect you’re going to know everything from day one of seeing a therapist.
In fact, you’re going to face confusion (like you would a full-time permanent job) since it’s unfamiliar to you.
And, although, you don’t turn up day after day, you turn up week after week.
And instead of someone else giving you work, you direct the session and what you want to work on that particular week.
Therefore, similarly to what’s known in the business world as managing upward.
When you start a full-time permanent job you must appreciate that it’s going to take you time to learn the job, in order to become proficient in it.
Therefore, requiring you to exercise patience with yourself when you make mistakes, don’t get it right the first time and come up against challenges you have no idea how to handle.
How to approach therapy with patience?
Therapy is similar in the sense, you will acquire new information around how to approach and perceive the situations you’re encountering in your life, in the form of advice, guidance, recommendations and tools, which you likely haven’t ever come across before.
And so, you must be patient with yourself in order to be able to understand what you’re being told, how it’s relevant to you and your life is, along with how you can implement the advice, guidance, recommendations and tools into your life.
Which I hope you appreciate, will all take time for you to be able to do.
For you to be able to stay at your full-time permanent job, day in day out, you need to commit.
In other words, you need to commit to turning up each day, you need to commit to doing the work assigned to you, you need to commit to working as part of a team, you need to commit to putting yourself outside your comfort zone and working on things you’ve never worked on before.
Otherwise, you will suffer the consequences, which will include losing your job, which will have a knock-on effect on your wage and your ability to live the kind of lifestyle you want to live.
How to see therapy as a commitment?
Therapy too is the same.
For you to be able to see results in your life, you must commit to it week in week out, you must commit to doing the work, which in this case means implementing the advice, guidance, recommendations, tools and practices recommended to you by your therapist.
Otherwise, you will not be able to change yourself, which will have a direct knock-on effect on your ability to change your life and that too will then have a knock-on effect on your ability to live a happy and healthy life.
Furthermore, because you have committed to your job with the understanding of what is required, you have respect for it and the process too.
In other words, you respect that it’s going to take time, that it’s not going to be easy, and that you will need to put the time and effort in (each and every day) to be able to achieve your work tasks, in order to be able to learn and grow professionally.
So eventually you can climb up the ladder and get an even better job to the one you’re doing.
How to approach therapy with respect?
It’s, therefore, important you have this same respectful mindset with the therapy process too because it’s new to you too.
Since as I said earlier, it’s not something, you’ve done before and will be touching subjects, which are going to be challenging for you to address, you don’t know what to expect or how it’s going to work and what results you’re going to get out of it until that is, you participate fully in the process and over a long period of time (up to 5 years or more).
So it’s a learning process you’ve got to respect.
And if you’ve ever heard the term ‘life-long learner’, then you would understand and appreciate that therapy acts as a life-long learning process too, which is okay because without it we might not be able to achieve what we want to achieve in life.
How to treat therapy like a full-time, permanent job?
Now you’re probably thinking, there’s no way you can treat therapy as a full-time, permanent job with everything else you’ve got going on.
However, you have to find a way to dial down everything else you’ve got going on in your life, whether it’s asking for extra help or letting something go, to be able to turn up the volume of your internal life.
And it’s only in this way you’ll be able to increase your intuition and will have more to talk about in therapy.
What’s really getting in the way of you being able to treat therapy as a full-time permanent job?
If you struggle to do the above because of what someone in your life might say or do, then again it’s important to talk to your therapist about it.
But for now, here are three (not so obvious key reasons) why you might think you don’t have the time, but aren’t the reality.
They’re simply your perception of what you believe is possible for you.
1) Your feelings
Negative (i.e. challenging) feelings are just as bad as negative thoughts.
In fact, they might even be worse to be honest because all negative thoughts begin with a negative feeling in the body, which equates to stress, which we all know isn’t good for us.
In addition, if you learnt in your childhood, acknowledging and feeling your feelings, whether positive or negative wasn’t safe, or that you’re feelings aren’t important (which a lot of people have experienced by the way) then you’re going to find it a lot easier to ignore how you’re feeling on a minute by minute, day to day basis, rather than seek to listen and understand your feelings.
2) Moving from one activity to the next activity
I talk more about this in my blog post HOW TO MAKE THE BEST USE OF A JOB CHANGE (AND WHAT STOPS YOU)?, but it also applies here.
This is because moving from one activity to the next, without giving yourself the time to reflect on what’s going on in your life and how you’re feeling, means you cannot process what you’re feelings are telling you, and potentially, the action you need to take in response to those feelings.
And this doesn’t have to be full days. But you definitely need evenings and half a day of your weekends (or more) each week, to be able to implement the advice, guidance, recommendations, tools and practices into your life.
Such as those I talk more about in my post 3 TOOLS TO GROW OUTSIDE THERAPY SESSIONS and 4 MIND-BLOWING TOOLS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR WORLD AND HELP YOU TO OVERCOME PAST REGRETS.
This isn’t difficult, but when you have friends, family, work, housework, all of which place demands on your time and energy, it can easily become difficult.
3) Fear of missing out (FOMO)
In particular, it becomes difficult because no one wants to feel left out of social activities with their friends, family and colleagues.
However, it’s our acceptance of missing out, which we have to become more comfortable with in order for us to be able to experience transformational shifts in our lives through working with a therapist.
Which, of course, like everything in therapy, takes time for us to arrive to.
LEARN MORE: TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE BY CHANGING THIS ONE BELIEF
Summary: How to treat therapy?
So, there you have it.
How to treat therapy…
Exactly as you would working a full-time permanent job.
Now over to you…
I would love to know how you’ve personally treated therapy to have been able to see results in your therapy sessions?
And don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter to ensure you stay in the know about how working with a Counselling Psychotherapist will further support you to develop personally and professionally, as well as, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.
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