30 Women Are Sharing Spot-On Questions From Their Therapists That Made Everything Click
The fear of being stigmatized by others often leads people to avoid psychotherapy. Even worse, some of us internalize the stigma which reduces the likelihood of seeking help even more.
However, psychotherapy has been shown to improve emotions and behaviors and to be linked with positive changes not only in the brain but the body as well.
Interested in how that happens, Redditor u/annabel420 recently asked women "What's the best question your therapist has asked you?" And they responded.
As of this publication, u/annabel420's post has 777 comments, many of which detail the powerful moment when people began healing. Here are some of the most memorable ones.
Therapist: "You realize you're describing domestic abuse"
Me: "Oh no, he's never hit me."
Therapist proceeds to explain emotional, psychological and financial abuse.
“Is that going to matter 5 years from now? How about 5 months? 5 day? Will it even matter 5 hours from now? Then why are you wasting more than 5 minutes worrying about it?”
Therapist: “I don’t think you’re happy or know what makes you happy. You’ve spent your whole life trying to make others happy and have never focused on yourself. You’ve worked so hard for a life you can put on a post card (wife, great house and career, etc) but I don’t think you want any of it.”
Me: You’re crazy. Of course I know what makes me happy!
Therapist: Name 5 things.
This conversation made me significantly change my ways and has probably been the single most impactful statement in my entire life.
She was right.
"Why do you keep referring to yourself as having anger issues and emotional issues?"
It was the first time I had even considered that the 'anger' issues I was told I had from when I was a small child were just my family not wanting to deal with my emotional needs. I'd been gaslit my whole life to think that all of my emotions were unreasonable and 'extreme', when they actually weren't.
I recently 'graduated' from therapy (my choice, with the door always open to go back). It took me 1.5 years to relearn emotions, how to express myself, and not 'protect' people from my emotions. I do feel emotions strongly (was diagnosed with ADHD), but none of my reactions are extreme.
“Why do you always seek their approval, when you’ve never approved of their choices?”
This was an eye opener when discussing my parents with her.
If you weren’t related to your relatives, would you be friends with them?….if no, then why does it matter so much to you what they think?
in regards to negative self-talk: “the things that you say about yourself…if your closest friends were depressed and going through a hard time, would you say the same things to them?”
“Whose voice is saying those things?”
She recently told me at the beginning of our sessions I made a lot of negative statements about myself and she asked me that question. I said it’s my voice saying that to me. It’s 16 sessions later and I said something negative and she asked the same question. This time I said the voice is my mum’s. It really helped me realise that all the negative thoughts I have about myself are a product of what I’ve been brought up with. It was completely eye-opening.
Do you think your grief is about the relationship ending or is your grief about what you think could have been and how you thought it was going to be? It was the latter
'If you had a child, would you let them be around this person?'
'Why do you feel you don't deserve to be protected from this kind of person and abuse?'
'Who is taking care of the child in you that never feels safe?'
i was in an abusive relationship that left me severely traumatized, I've been in therapy for a year now and recently we were talking about responsibility, and how I felt like I should've done more to protect myself and see the warning signs, talking about the first time he got frustrated with me for talking to another man. And my therapist asks, "When he got irritated with you that first time, did you know in that moment that he would end up throwing you against a wall and you'd have to flee his house in the middle of the night in the dead of winter with no shoes on?" and when i chuckled and said no, I had just expected that to be normal jealousy that we could work out together, and she says "exactly. You couldn't have known. Nobody expects their partner to abuse them. You need to be kind to your past self, you have experiences now that would help you if this sort of thing happened again, but you didn't then. You couldn't have known, and that's ok."
this retelling is not nearly as eloquent as her response was mind you but english is not my first language so im translating xD
"Does that actually make you a bad mother or does it just not live up to the impossible standard you have set for yourself?"
Oof, that was a hell of an eye opener.
"Are you upset because of something someone said, or are you upset because of the way you heard it?"
This led to me learning that I overthink/overanalyze situations and create my own perception of people being mad at me.
"You're free to lie to me. Have you considered, not lying to yourself?"
Was a slap in the face, but in the best way possible.
"Do you want to die or don't you know how to go further?"
Really made me think
“Why aren’t you allowed to be happy right now, instead of when you’ve lost weight?” I suffer from binge eating disorder, and this is the reason I went to therapy in the first place. The hardest thing I learned through therapy is that I had to accept myself for who I am now in order to make any progress. This helped because I wasn’t putting so much pressure on myself to lose weight — like everything was riding on it."
"I gained a lot of weight and went back and forth with diets, calorie counting, and excessive exercise to try and counteract my excessive eating. Obviously, none of this worked, which just made me feel completely hopeless as I gained more and more weight.
I had to like my body and be happy and content in my skin. I am happy with the way things are now, although I accept that I have to make healthier lifestyle choices since I am still overweight.
If this sounds familiar to anyone, get professional help. You are not lazy, you have a mental health issue that needs treatment. It was like a weight lifted from my shoulders that felt like it had been there my whole life.
Wouldn't it be nice if for once someone would take care of you?
“How can you get better if you still live with your trigger?”
Moved out a month after she asked that.
“Do you realize you don’t have post partum depression, but are the victim of an abusive relationship?”
Changed everything for me.
... and what's stopping you from doing that?
Sometimes it's helpful to have someone point out that in many ways we are/create our own obstacles.
"Guilt implies that you did something wrong. Do you think you did the wrong thing?"
In terms of ending a relationship that was hurting my mental health.. really made me rethink the things I have felt guilty about in the past! He also said that guilt is a learned feeling. We aren't born feeling guilt. People make us feel that way. Interesting!
“You can’t give someone the shirt off your back…if you do, what are you going to wear?”
Hated this in the moment, because at the time giving to others was a huge part of my identity - always making sure I was there for other people. And I used to get angry when I would never get that back, because in my head it meant that no one cared enough about me to give what I was giving. Turns out, they were just establishing their boundaries for what they’re able to give without emotionally draining themselves like I was. I still struggle with it to some degree but at least now I feel better about taking care of myself first. Nine time out of ten, people understand that and have been very supportive.
"Why do you gaslight yourself so much?"
I wasn't even aware that you could gaslight yourself. Comming to terms with my trauma was difficult. Somedays I still tell myself I'm still just overreacting or remembering it wrong..
“At what point does trying become doing?”
I was having a rough time and felt like nothing was going right despite how hard I was trying, and I said just that: “I’m trying, I’m trying”. And she asked when does ‘you’re trying’ become ‘you’re doing’? You’re trying and you’re doing this this and this, so are you ‘doing’ or trying? Basically I needed to give myself more credit and stop being so hard on myself and recognize what I was doing right.
Also one of my all time favorite things she said that anyone has ever said was “Emotions that get buried alive never die”. So, let that sh*t out and deal with it.
“How would you feel about that situation if a child was present-any child, not anyone’s in particular.”
Made it easier to accept and set my boundaries
"Can you control other people and their actions?"
I struggle hard with anxiety and I was in a relationship with a narcissist. My therapist asked me this in the middle of a rant about how I always felt like I had to explain my ex's bad behavior to others. And I just kind of sat there like.... You know what, no. I can't. Nothing I do will make my ex change or stop doing what he does. And it's not my job to make him decent to be around.
My therapist doesn't usually ask questions but she did ask me something that made me think deeply during my architecture licensure examinations.
She asked me, "If you were an honor graduate in college, you tested well, and you studied, why wouldn't you pass the exam?"
I guess my imposter syndrome is really really on high and I was totally afraid of failing. I passed, and it's been three years since then.
My guidance counselor in college made me realize how much I needed psychotherapy.
She asked me, "Some people would be happy when they tell you your strengths, but why are you crying?"
It made me realize that I don't believe myself even when I'm telling the truth. I don't believe that I have the capacity to do anything good.
“And is that working for you?”
She says it all the time. It’s really helped me understand that there are reasons I’ve thought about or done things a certain way and that isn’t bad, but now that my life is different those ways are not working for me anymore.
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