5 Words To Remember Along Your Healing Journey To Get The Most Benefits Out Of Therapy

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5 Words To Remember Along Your Healing Journey To Get The Most Benefits Out Of Therapy
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Plenty of people seek out therapy to heal trauma and issues from their past. Everyone has problems, after all.

If you are wondering how to get the most benefits out of therapy, it's important to keep some things in mind — particularly the fact that your healing journey doesn't stop once you've stepped out of the therapist's office.

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After a difficult childhood with a mother who's mentally ill, a tough climb into feeling comfortable in my profession and earning a salary commensurate with my experience, a happy marriage, and then a sudden widowhood six years in, you would think I would know enough not to get involved with somebody married.

Guess not.

I never would have believed that this would be me. I mean, didn’t the happy marriage mean I was all better now? Can you have a happy marriage if you’re not emotionally healthy?

Turns out the answer to that last question is yes. I had a lot to go through to find all the places I was still broken, and therapy helped me heal.

After a lot of hard work and tears, I understand a lot about my childhood, my affair, and my life now that I didn’t understand before, and I did it through relentless hard work — and you can, too.

Here are 5 important words that will help you get the most out of your therapy experience so you can heal better and take care of your mental health in the future:

1. Read

You are only in therapy for an hour a week at the very most. I only went for an hour every other week when things were at their worst — and I was having panic attacks several times a day. I simply couldn’t afford to go any more often.

I searched out books on codependency, attachment theory, and these great ones on the compulsive need to “save” other people in relationships and the emotional symptoms adult children struggle within their lives.

Being willing to read gave me so much to think about. I could draw parallels between what I read and what I had lived that enabled me to make progress that I wouldn’t have made otherwise, even if it took my emotions longer to catch up.

Some of these were books my therapist hadn’t even heard of, and now she has them on her shelf.

Do a search on your problem and read a few books.

2. Work

I journaled… and journaled… and journaled. I wrote about what I was feeling. I wrote about what I was reading. I wrote about what was in my horoscope!

If I felt guilty about what I had done, I wrote about that. If I felt like I’d been dumped because I wasn’t good enough, I wrote about that.

Somehow, those extra seconds from the brain to the hands force your mind to process what you’re trying to master. Not only that, but time in therapy was so short, I could email my therapist my work and then we could spend the time we had talking about it. That made my time there a little more efficient.

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3. Pain

If you don’t feel any, you’re not making any progress. In my case, I was obsessed with the affair and/or depressed for five years.

People want you to hurry up and get over it, forget about it, meet someone else, go out and have fun.

Unfortunately, pain is a signal that you have work left to do. What I discovered is that, when you master the material the pain is pushing to you to master, the pain goes away on its own.

When you run from pain and you don’t process it, you will meet it again. You might as well stay in it and learn what it has to teach you now.

4. Grit

It takes courage and toughness to explore your own culpability.

One day, overcome with sadness, I sat playing with tarot cards. I found that I kept drawing ones that said, “You’re way too controlling and you need to stop trying to dominate other people.” And I had never thought of myself that way.

After I kept getting these cards over and over again, I had to sit there and ask myself, “Am I really too domineering and controlling? When was I domineering and controlling? Why did I do that?”

These questions sparked journal entries that were very painful to write. Most people don’t like to ask themselves those kinds of questions, and I was no exception.

But if I didn’t, I never would have understood that I was treating the guy I had the emotional affair with the very same way his wife did, for the exact same reasons.

She and I were a lot more alike than I wanted to admit, and really, there was no surprise in that.

People — the guy included — are attracted to the same kind of person over and over … another thing I discovered in all that reading.

If I didn’t want to be that kind of person, if I disliked his wife for the way she was acting, I needed to look at myself and the way I was acting.

5. Time

I’ve been in therapy now for almost five years. I think I’ve resolved most of the issues related to the affair.

It took me five years because getting this screwed up took me fifty.

We live in the age of quick fixes, but some things, there's no quick fix for. Emotions frozen in childhood take a long time to thaw, and even longer to mature.

If we’re going to be angry at ourselves for the time it takes, we’re going to run away into fun, into drinking, into distractions, into someone else’s arms, and not give ourselves the time it’s really going to take.

And then, we’re going to pay for it.

There are no shortcuts around these four-letter words. You may curse them with other four-letter words while you’re going through them, but they will pay off for you in the long run.

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P.D. Reader, a student astrologer, blogs about love triangles, relationships, and astrology at The Thinking Other Woman.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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