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  • H.M. Jackson

Three Things I've Learned in Therapy

I learn something in therapy each session. Scratch that - I learn MANY things in each session, (although sometimes it takes me hearing it from my therapist multiple times before it clicks). As someone who had been to therapy on and off in the past, (and always felt it was useless) I can’t express the happiness I feel when I leave my session with an applicable take away. Going to therapy is only part of the work, taking what you learn and applying it when needed is typically the harder part (at least for me).

Here are 3 of my favorite takeaways from therapy so far: These are just a few things that have been my favorite, or ones I tend to refer to for myself the most.

  1. Ear, Mouth, Shoulder

  2. Life is not meant to be a self-improvement project. Life is meant to be lived.

  3. Does the ‘why’ change it?

Ear, Mouth, Shoulder. This is such a simple concept my therapist gave to me and a few members in my support circle awhile back, but I think it is so amazing that I share it with everyone. It has been something that helped tremendously with communication between myself and support system. It helped us so much since it allowed the intent of the end goal to be known up front.

  • Ear - I just need you to listen. Maybe I need to vent, or throw everything out there for a second from my frustrating day, but I just want you to listen. I am not looking for advice, I just need someone to hear me for a second.

  • Mouth - I need some advice or your opinion on a topic.

  • Shoulder - I don’t feel like talking, and I don’t want any advice, I just don’t want to be alone. Will you just hang out with me?

For me, being someone who struggles with opening up, my support system and I used this a lot in the beginning. It allowed for us to be on the same page, and not get frustrated with one another. For example, if they were giving unwanted advice, when truthfully, I just wanted to ramble off a quick vent session.

Life is not meant to be a self-improvement project. Life is meant to be lived. This sentence has so much impact and meaning to me. It was something my therapist said to me after I was released from in-patient, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect way to describe how I had been living my life in the past. I had become wrapped up in having a plan, following that plan for improvement, and success - that I only focused on the goals and achievements to better myself. I thought all the achievements would be what made me happy, but it wasn’t. I started healing, and I started living - yes, just living my life in the moment, not so focused on the next ‘thing’ or hanging on trying to survive, I was living. That is what life is here for, for us to live. Let me tell you, it is a beautiful thing once you let go and start. It is so freeing.

The third one, does the ‘why’ change it? This is one I check myself on frequently, but I love it. It gave me such an ‘aha!’ moment when my therapist explained it to me. I had been working through processing an event, and I kept going back to “I don’t understand why this person did this. I would never do that to someone. Why would this person do that?” Then my therapist said, “if there was some ‘why’ and you knew it, would that make it okay? Would that make what the person did okay?” Fuck no. Another, ‘aha!’ moment (as usual). It wouldn’t make it okay or change the pain I feel from it. That is my focus, working through the pain I feel, and negative connotations I believe about myself, not trying to comprehend the why behind someone else. I am not responsible for someone else, I am only responsible for myself, and my actions. Not their thoughts or actions. Even if I did know why or the thought process, it doesn't make what happened okay. Such a simple question my therapist posed, that really helped. I still find myself getting caught up in ‘why’s’, but when I do, I try to ask myself the above to check myself.

⎻ H.M. Jackson

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