You have to get naked before you can re-dress.
Change is uncomfortable.
Therapy would never have helped me on its own. Unfortunately, it’s something I hear and see regularly… people go to therapy, they sit in the sessions, they come out and feel the same, or sometimes worse.
I’m not knocking therapy, therapy is a great way to dig in and find out what’s wrong. But I see a fundamental flaw in therapy…
Therapists aren’t really allowed to give you answers. Their job, their oath, is to listen and guide you through the muddy waters, based on what you share with them.
They help you get naked.
The role of a therapist is to sit across from you, to listen to you, pay attention to you, and look for cues that they then use to guide a conversation, to ask more questions, but they don’t really give you an answer.
It was the strangest thing for me in my therapy sessions.
I opted to talk, I told my therapist on my first day, that I would say whatever came into my head, I would not hold back because I needed “this” to work. That’s the whole point of talking therapies, right?
So I sat, and I talked.
I laid it all bare, what had happened, what had led me to refer for counselling in the first place, what I felt was the issue, why it was an issue, and we went from there.
There were things she picked up on, subtle cues in the way I said things, how I reacted, how I would cross my arms defensively, as though to protect myself. How I slowed down to say things, rushed others, or changed my tone, how I choked on a few words that made me emotional.
“OK, can we explore that? Why does that make you feel that way?”
And on it went for 16 weeks.
For 16 weeks, I talked, shed tears, and talked some more, and paused when I got to something that tripped me up, then we’d discuss that a little further.
Sometimes, she gave me an insight into what was going on, she told me of the Karpman Triangle, and we explored a few other things, but she never came out and told me what it was that was going on within me.
We found triggers, and watched for cues, and pushed on tender spots, and I kept talking.
We had a few analogies (I love a good analogy) but mostly to further her understanding of what I was saying… not to explain what was happening for me.
It really was like a slow undressing as I slowly bared my innermost thoughts and the shadows of my soul.
But I wasn’t just going to therapy.
I’d already self-studied other things.
I’d dabbled in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) the fancy pants way of saying self-talk.
I’d explored Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) “tapping”
I’d undergone hypnotherapy sessions.
I’d learned about meditation and mindfulness.
I’d been writing in a journal for years, deep-diving and exploring the things that were going through my mind.
I’d worked with life coaches and mindset coaches.
I’d listened to podcasts and seminars, read books and watched videos on psychology, human behaviour and micro-expressions.
I’d learned all their damn tricks, and some others besides for 10 whole years before I finally dragged my ass to therapy.
And as I sat in the chair, slowly undressing, I allowed myself the freedom to re-dress.
To look at the life I’d been living, to see what ill-fitting clothes I’d shrouded myself in, and I saw the vision again of who I could be, and I saw, for the first time, that she was a real possibility.
I just needed to choose to change.
I needed to get naked before I could re-dress.
And it is not comfortable.
After my therapy sessions, I would go to the coffee shop, I would sit in the corner, with my journal, and I would write. Whatever was on my mind, what I’d learned, what I’d uncovered, it was almost a continuation of the therapy session.
Sometimes it hurt too much to write, so I would sit and stare at a blank page, just drink my coffee and let the thoughts unfold.
I would push myself further, through the pain, until I got to the source, then I’d decide what I’d want in its place.
It is only when we’re naked can we re-dress.
And therapy won’t always get you there.
Not on its own at least.
You need to be willing to give yourself the hard truths. You need to allow the pain to play out and make way for the release as you let go of those things that hurt.
You need to sit your ass in the chair, open up to a stranger, or a friend, and then take that discovery and say “OK, this is what I need to work on now. This is the shit I need to deal with, let go of or change. This is the pattern of behaviour that I keep repeating that is fucking me over at every step. THIS is what I keep choosing for myself, doing to myself, and allowing in my life. This is enough, I am done. And I will not put myself through this anymore.”
And that is how you discover yourself, and only then, once you’ve stripped back all that is not truly you; the armour, the doubt, the fear, the self-inflicted pain, the punishment. And you’ve let go of the harmful and hurtful things in your life, only then can you redress yourself in what is truly meant for you. The things you truly want, and the life you truly desire.
This work is not easy, it’s not pleasant, and it’s not comfortable.
I will never pretend that it is.
But it is more worthwhile than any other.