No matter how eager you are to change your ways, there will come a point in therapy when you think, “This sucks. Dante forgot to include ‘Therapy’ as the tenth layer of hell.”
It’s hard work. Maybe you had a panic attack during a session, or realized some difficult truths about your personality. Sometimes therapy is boring, or you’re convinced your poor therapist is bored. You talk about the same things week after week, over and over again, and nothing in you is changing.
Yes, it’s tempting. If you quit, you don’t have to spend another second thinking about your relationship with your mother! You’re forgiven for thinking that sounds glorious — but it’s not. There’s rhyme and reason to therapy: helping you understand yourself, and finding ways to cope (or even overcome!) your anxiety, or anger, depression, other mental health issues, or just keeping you on track with your goals.
Unfortunately, the path isn’t always easy. But keep walking toward your goal, even when therapy is tough. Here’s why.
When Therapy Is Tough, It’s Real
If therapy was fun, everyone would get therapized! Unfortunately, good therapy sometimes requires digging deep into your subconscious and psyche — and revealing what may be some painful memories and feelings stored there.
Does your stomach turn and your hands go clammy when you think about your therapist’s office? That’s a good sign (assuming you have a good therapist — here’s how to check). Don’t feel guilty if you’re anxious about diving into your most tender emotions.
But don’t cancel your sessions, either. Few people get a thrill from laying their heart bare on the table, but emotional honesty is necessary for a therapeutic relationship.
But perhaps you’re thinking, “Therapy isn’t hard. It’s boring.” You’ve been talking about the same topics for three weeks now: your fraught relationship with your sister, or your work stress. It’s tough. It can even be a little dull. But, although your chats may feel repetitive, you’re circling around something important — if you’re still talking about the same thing, that indicates something unresolved that needs resolving. More time will help you sort out the truth of the situation.
To Overcome Painful Emotions, You Have to Feel Them
In therapy, you experience painful emotions (and yes, that can be tough). But experiencing these painful emotions alongside a trained professional will make your life better in the long run.
For example, let’s say you experienced a traumatic event in your past. Over time, your brain created shortcuts to bypass this memory, so you don’t have to think about it. But those shortcuts cause their own problems, like PTSD, anxiety, or anger issues. The only way to rewire your brain and alleviate the problem is to process that memory with the assistance of a mental health professional.
This process blows. There’s nothing less fun than reliving your worst, most painful memories — sometimes more than once. But the benefits are enormous. So stick with therapy, even when it hurts.
Especially when it hurts.
It Gets Better, Trust Me
Therapy won’t always be miserable. Pinky-promise. There are so many benefits to attending therapy regularly. You’ll have a built-in place to unload your worries every week. You’ll learn how to handle new challenges with grace. And the mental health concerns you originally wanted to address, like anxiety or depression, will improve over time, too.
But those achievements require slogging through the hard, sucky parts of therapy… and not quitting. There’s no better feeling than a sense of accomplishment a good therapy session can bring — except for the first morning you wake up anxiety-free. Unpacking all the junk built up in your subconscious takes hard work, and it’s often not fun. But it is worthwhile.
Sticking with therapy, even when it’s tough to sit with painful thoughts and emotions, is sometimes essential for your mental health. Therapists are trained to work through difficult feelings with you, which means you have to deal with those feelings.
Yep. It’s really, really hard.
But successfully completing therapy creates its own reward: a lightened mental burden, better tools for handling new challenges, and an increased sense of self-worth. So stick with it. Even when it is absolutely, one-hundred-percent the worst.