Nobody is perfect. We can’t pretend that we are. Everybody has something in their past that is painful to think about, no matter how long ago it occurred. Becoming self-aware, and facing the difficulties of our past is often not the first thing on our agenda. In fact, many people spend their entire lives in denial or avoidance of their deep-seated trauma. They unknowingly let it affect their patterns of behavior, coping mechanisms, communication style, and relationships. They are held hostage by their ignored inner conflict, and are inhibited from operating as their best self.
To me, this is the biggest shame of all. A hesitancy to want to look within is the greatest self-sabotage a person could inflict upon themselves. They are hindering their own self-growth, and are therefore not making the most of their human experience and emotional capability.
So why would a person refuse to look within? The vulnerability. It is scary to look within. It is scary to uncover the dark truths of our past, that we have worked so hard to suppress. Why should we dive headfirst into our painful memories, if we have the option to avoid them? Why shouldn’t we just bury those thoughts into a dark corner of our mind, that we never revisit again? Because, try as we might, they will continue to affect us as long as we choose not to face them.
Therapy is a practice that is accepted by some, and refused by all others. While many people have come to believe that it is vital to their mental wellbeing, others believe it is a stark sign of weakness. No matter what state they are in, their sense of pride convinces them that they are not a candidate for therapy and would never benefit from sharing their emotions with a stranger. I am here to dismantle the latter notion.
Since nobody is perfect, then we can all agree that there is always something that a person could learn to do better. There is always room for improvement. If you know you could improve at something, then wouldn’t you want to? If you could strive to be a better you, then what’s stopping you? If you are in agreement with this, then already everyone is a candidate for therapy.
Why would you want to talk to a stranger, when you don’t even feel comfortable talking to a loved one or friend? This stranger is not just someone you’ve picked off the street. They are a professional, who has been trained to guide you through your subconscious and help you to face the daunting and crippling ghosts of your past and present. They have your best interest in mind, and will do anything they can to help you on your journey of becoming your best “you”. They will provide a safe space for you to speak and think without restraints. They will push you to be vulnerable, but hold your hand along the way (so to speak). They are always on your team.
In psychology, there is something called “the stranger on the train phenomenon”. This is the idea that sometimes a stranger can be our most trustworthy confidant. It is called the “stranger on the train phenomenon”, because people who meet on a train can often talk for hours getting to know each other quite well and sharing some very personal secrets, simply because they know that they will likely never see the person again. To me, this is kind of like a therapist. While of course you will likely see them again, they are not at liberty to discuss anything that you tell them with anyone else (much like the benefit of never seeing a person again). Your therapist can be your stranger on a train.
While many people believe that therapy is for the weak, I would have to disagree. Therapy is for the courageous. Therapy is for those people who have the strength to look within, even if it means being uncomfortable and facing your biggest fears. Therapy is for those who are ready to be a better version of themselves. Therapy is for the humble–the people who know that they are not without flaws, and are willing to work to be better. I admire the people who go out of their way to do something courageous and difficult for the better. For the better of their relationships. For the better of their self-concept. For the better of their future.