If you’re anything like me, you’ve suffered from the “I can fix anything” syndrome. The good side is that you’re a pretty independent, solution-oriented individual. The downfall has been your default to operate in self-sufficiency during times you should have let go, given it to God and leaned on someone else for help.
This is commonly the case when it comes to being stuck in depression, anxiety, spiritual backsliding and any level of situational troubles.
And one of the greatest deceptions of recovery is that “we’re better off trying to fix things alone”.
If you constantly find yourself trying to handle your issues in isolation and have problems opening up to others or reaching out for help when you need it most, this deception has probably worked its way into your belief system.
There are a few of reasons we think this way.
- We don’t believe others understand us well enough to meet our needs.
- If they do try to help, there’s a chance that it’s not the way that we would do it or would like things to be done.
- Since it’s “our problem” it’s up to us to deal with it. We don’t want to “burden” anyone else.
- We don’t want to be judged. We don’t trust others. We don’t want them to witness our flaws.
Let’s be honest, it’s a control issue.
We want to control our process. We want to control how others view us. We want to control the outcome.
But this is not how God has created us to function or called us to live if we’re going to experience the fullness of life. And you probably know this with your head but your nature fights against it by habit.
Because what we know and what we believe are two completely different things.
We recite what we know. But we live according to what we believe.
Here’s the truth we must get into our heads and start practicing if we want to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When we confess our sins to another (including hurts, habits and hang-ups) and pray for one another it opens the door for us to be healed (James 5:16). Two are better than one because if one falls down the other can help them up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). It’s almost impossible to save yourself when you’re drowning. In fact, we usually drive ourselves deeper into despair because things manifest in the dark. Not only that, but God created us to be interdependent– to have some level of reliance on one another in fellowship and community in order to live full-functioning, thriving lives according to our calling and have our needs met (Romans 12:4-6). And don’t forget the biggest takeaway- God manifests his presence where two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20).
And those are just a few principles and promises of God when we choose to go through life with others.
Now this article is specifically about therapy and because this is a mental health blog I really want to take the time to advocate its benefits. Yes, there’s a difference between engaging in therapy and chatting it up with your friends (even though both are therapeutic).
And it doesn’t matter how big or how insignificant your issues may feel. If you’re clouded and it’s debilitating your ability to live in purpose and freedom- it’s important.
And if you’ve had a single thought that you might need to go talk to a counselor or therapist- that’s a good sign that you should.
Most importantly, if you’ve had any level of suicidal thinking or ruminating about your death (and you’re not alone in this), you should talk to someone about it and not hesitate any longer.
Here are 7 reasons why (and from personal experience):
Therapy helps you set realistic goals.
A good therapist works like an advocate and accountability partner. He or she will help get a good visual of your situation/mindset and together you’ll map out where you need to be and some of the steps you can take to get to a healthy and thriving place. While it won’t be an overnight process, it still encourages proactive behavior which will help navigate past some of those mental or situational hindrances keeping you stuck. Together you can both review the progress you’ve made, what may have caused any setbacks and have the support to keep going.
Two are better than one.
Ever notice when someone else is going through something, you have all the advice and know exactly what they need to do to get out but when it’s yourself it’s a bit harder to take your own advice? Again, it’s hard to pull yourself out when you’re the one drowning. All you’re focused on is getting some gasps of air from the situation. You’re just trying to survive. And when you’re just trying to survive the day or week or moment, it can be hard to step out of yourself long enough to process everything clearly.
This is where two are better than one. It’s having someone pull you out when you can’t seem to pull yourself out. It’s having someone help you process things when your emotions and anxieties are on hyper-drive. Many times it’s not that you don’t know better- you’re just stuck. And it’s human. It’s happened to us all.
Another benefit of therapy is that he or she will be able to provide you with practical tools and resources, such as activities, books, worksheets, practices etc that you can use in your daily life to help you better understand and cope through the hardships you’re facing. These are incredibly helpful.
Therapy listens for undertones.
One thing I love about therapy is that counselors are taught to listen for what’s not being said. These are the undertones of belief systems or the mindset you’ve adapted that’s working against you, and you don’t even realize it. They’ll be able to help you link how you’re interpreting some of the situations in your life that’s causing you hopelessness or anxiety. For example, you might be interpreting the loss of a relationship or job as a personal failure- that something is wrong with you as a person, rather than understanding it’s a common part of life that we all work through. How are you personally interpreting life around you and what is your underlying belief system about yourself, others and the future? A therapist can help you map this out.
Therapy is judgment free.
The role of a therapist is not to judge or define you based on your actions, but help bring understanding to why you’re making them or thinking the way you are so that you can have better self-awareness to make healthier choices. Again, it’s a partnership. You’re partnering together to figure out where things have gone astray and how to get on the right track. Most importantly the conversations are confidential. And therapists see a variety of people with a variety of issues, so don’t be quick to assume you’re the craziest person in the world. You’re not.
Therapy provides assessment.
This is probably the most vital benefit of therapy. Sometimes it’s hard to gage how far gone we are when living in a mental crisis. We just deeply know that we are not okay and we don’t want to live this way. But a professional will have the tools to assess how serious the mental crisis is or if there’s a diagnosis that needs to be treated. Think along the same lines of a doctor. They’ll be able to tell you if the ankle has a splint, is fractured or is broken. There are different levels of severity when it comes to illness and this is equally the case with mental health.
Many people wait years before ever getting help and just like a common infection it only gets worse or spreads until it’s engrained everywhere. When depression, anxiety or any other psychiatric disorder becomes a growing part of your life, it makes it harder to combat. This actually prolongs the recovery process. Don’t wait until things get worse. Nip it in the bud. Get help as soon as possible so you can begin to recover as soon as possible.
That brings me to my next point.
The truth shall set you free.
I saw this quote that said, “We are as sick as our secrets”. And oh is that the truth.
The more we suppress, hide and entertain our ruminations in the dark, the more they manifest. They feed off of the isolation.
BUT, when “the light shines in the darkness, the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5).
When we expose our darkness to others by sharing, releasing and letting them in on our recovery, the darkness that gave life to our inner turmoil begins to repel. This is why the enemy fights so hard in spiritual resistance to keep us from coming to others. Because he knows that once we do, it will be our freedom.
Telling the truth and dealing with these things in truth is the first step to our freedom.
The real question is, do you want to be free?
Are you fed up enough with this darkness to do what it takes to be free?
If so, it’s time to talk about it.