As therapist, here are six things I want you to know. Some could be considered general life truisms, but they are also things that will help you progress more quickly if you choose to enter therapy.
What better time than the start of a new year to make change that can positively affect the rest of your life? Let’s assume you have made that brave decision, and talk therapy is part of your plan. What do you expect when you are expecting talk therapy? If you want to know how I do it, read on.
People that have never experienced talk therapy often feel a tad apprehensive about getting started. There are lots of reasons. Some wonder if it will do any good at all, and others have the odd fear they won’t be able to ‘do it right.’ Some people simply don’t know how it proceeds or what is expected of them, and they are anxious about that. Still others believe they will receive all the instructions from the therapist about how to change and be on their way—with no real understanding of the courage, persistence, and work that real change takes. And some believe a pill is the answer.
I am waiting to return safely to my home in Wilmington, North Carolina. We are currently cut off by flood waters. My husband and I evacuated from Hurricane Florence and the destruction it left behind. While I wait, I am reading the book Grit (2016) by Angela Duckworth. She is a psychologist and researcher at University of Pennsylvania who studies achievement, and has a TED Talk you may wish to hear on the subject of grit. It’s been on my list for a while, and this seemed like a fairly pointed time to dive in.
Grit sounds self explanatory, but if you think you have it, you may be engaging in oversimplification. I expect many who find themselves cleaning up and rebuilding in the aftermath of the horrific destruction by Florence are going to experience either its lack, or its presence, in their lives.
It’s pretty standard knowledge that you go to therapy to change something. But changing a way of thinking or a behavior we don’t like is just not that easy, is it? And it is especially difficult to change our reactions to other’s mayhem. If it was we’d all do it and be on our merry way. Let me share three signs you need therapy.
Let’s start with the bad news, but with the knowledge this is all PREVENTABLE! I struggle so much with how to make this important topic more palatable, but feel strongly that knowing the SUPER-power of connection is critical to good mental health. Did you know you have an inborn ‘connection neediness’ level? It is different for each individual and varies widely among us.
Is Mind Reading Destructive?
There is a myth that says “If you love me, then you’ll know what I need.” This is called mind reading. Is mind reading destructive? Sometimes. When it is, it keeps you on the hook for a destructive, repetitive communication pattern. Here’s the skinny.
Sometimes when others criticize us, especially those close to us, or those in power over us, it is as if a fire alarm goes off in our brains. It can put you on the defensive very quickly. What if you could change this clanging into something that actually made you more productive? What if you could soften the sound to some gentle chimes that made you say, hmmm, what about this has me paying so much attention?
This is a matter of asking yourself the right questions. It is a way to receive criticism that you can teach yourself, instead of responding like it’s a three alarm fire. Here’s a few questions to get you started. But first a personal story.
I don’t actually place too much stock in New Year’s resolutions. In the past when I have, they are usually too big or not sustainable, and by January 31, I’m like meh. This sucks and I don’t want to do it any more. So then I let the unmet goals go until the angst over not getting enough exercise or being unable to wear the clothes that are two sizes past creep up and make me feel defeated again. This is the hamster wheel of my own anxiety spinning around in my head. It can turn into a bad case of the “What ifs” if I don’t follow my own advice. You know, doctor, heal thyself. So I make sure set goals I can achieve, I get competent help, and I pay attention to self care. All of that allows me to do what I do best, which is to help you tame your anxiety. But if you are feeling a little shy about seeking help, or unsure of what to expect in therapy, please let me demystify it for you. Read more
Sarcasm is an odd issue to tackle. The reason is that it is highly contextual, often subtle, and totally ubiquitous. My title says “Sarcasm is contempt” but that is 100% dependent on the context in which it is being leveled. Here is an example:
What do I mean by your inner bully? Simply put, it is self criticism. And why would you want to put a cork in that beast? And furthermore, why bother, since no doubt you think being self critical is a valuable habit that will improve your performance and keep you safe. The paradox is that the self criticism will stop you from doing something that you fear failing at, or that might result in a painful consequence like rejection.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
Free parking at office