30 Of The Most Brilliant Things People Realized In Therapy That They Felt Everyone Should Know About
Going to therapy can be a wonderful step in taking care of your mental health and learning healthy coping mechanisms. Sometimes, all we need is an unbiased, outside perspective to help us work through trauma, sort out our fears and uncertainties and remind us that we are enough just the way we are. I often leave a therapy session feeling 10 pounds lighter than I did an hour prior, as I’ve been reminded that I don’t have to let stress be a massive burden on my shoulders.
But the thing about therapy is that we don’t all have the time, money or resources available to go. It can be incredibly expensive if not covered by insurance, difficult to squeeze into your schedule, and finding a therapist who you mesh with can be a long and arduous process. That’s why it’s so great when people pass along the wisdom and life lessons they’ve gleaned from their therapists!
Down below, we’ve got a list of some of the best knowledge Reddit users have heard from therapy, as well as an interview we were lucky enough to receive from Randy Withers, LCMHC. This article may not be as effective as a weekly one-on-one session while laying on a chaise longue, but there are still plenty of insightful words that can give you a fresh perspective. Be sure to upvote the advice you would have paid money for, and let us know in the comments if you’ve ever learned any golden nuggets of wisdom from therapy. Then if you’d like to have even more free therapy, check out this Bored Panda article next!
The fact that you are high functioning doesn't mean that your illness is easier for you to deal with, it means it's easier for others to deal with.
To gain more insight on this topic, we reached out to Randy Withers, LCMHC. Randy is a Board-Certified and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in private practice in North Carolina. He is also the Managing Editor of Blunt Therapy, a blog about mental health. Randy was kind enough to shine some light on the topic of therapy, and noted that although it can be an incredibly useful tool, "Therapy is not, in fact, for everyone."
"People with certain types of developmental disorders, certain types of psychotic disorders, and people with Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders are often not appropriate for therapy," Randy explained. "People who are forced to go to therapy don't tend to get good results from it, either. Having said that, it is fair to say that the vast majority of adolescents and adults can benefit tremendously from therapy, if for no other reason than people tend to benefit from the strong sense of social connection that therapy provides."
When my sweetheart of 43 years was diagnosed with stage IV cancer I gave up everything to care for her. Overwhelmed with grief and exhaustion, I found myself having suicidal thoughts. I sought counseling.
One evening I had a thought that felt like a solenoid firing in my brain:
"Just because the love of my life could be dying, that doesn't mean I have to stop living."
I started building in mini-vacations every day. Play music. Ride a motorcycle. Fly a drone. Tell a joke.
We both survived.
“You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to.” Best advice ever 💜
Randy also opened up with Bored Panda about some of his own experiences with therapy. "I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress for most of my adult life. I have seen several different therapists, and most have have been quite helpful. For me, a good therapist provides much-needed insight, education, and support," he noted.
"I like to process life issues with my current therapist, Kim. I appreciate getting a neutral but informed point of view about whatever it is that I'm processing with her. Some therapists have literally saved my life. It's one of the reasons I got into this field."
Sometimes, when we procrastinate, it's because we need to feel control, even when the only thing we can control is choosing not to do something - even when it contributes to making our situation worse. Took me years to come to terms with that one.
When I start the negative self talk, I was told to pretend I am talking to my wonderful and sweet 5yo little boy. I could never say the s**t I say to myself to my son. The therapist told me to envision someone telling my boy what I say to myself and how would I react. It was eye opening as to how we are our own worst boogeyman.
One thing I noticed from reading the responses on this Reddit post was that many people mentioned how a therapist can say something incredibly insightful that suddenly seems like it should have been obvious all along. So we asked Randy if he could explain this experience a bit. "This can happen for a number of reasons, but what I tend to see is that people tend to have assumptions that guide their thinking. Many of us never bother to challenge these assumptions and are awestruck when we realize how our thinking contributes to our anxiety and depression," he explained.
"I've noticed that for many of my male clients, they are so busy trying to please their wives or girlfriends that they are shocked to discover that their feelings and needs actually matter, too," Randy noted. "It is amazing to me how many men never realize such a basic truth. People also tell things to therapists that they have literally never told anyone else. Secrets are toxic, and simply relieving oneself of that burden is by itself an impactful experience for most of my clients."
"Our minds can be dangerous weapons, especially if we don't know how to use them," he added. "Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative. Most of us don't realize just how much suffering our thoughts cause us."
that my past trauma and upbringing aren't excuses for my bad behavior, and i have to be the one to break the cycle
The brain isn't designed to keep us happy. It's designed to keep us alive.
We also asked Randy if there were any particularly insightful things he's been told by therapists that stuck with him. "Years ago, a therapist told me resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. That stuck with me," he shared. "Many adolescents need to hear that their parents' divorce was not their fault. So do survivors of domestic violence, abuse, and sexual assault. For whatever reason, victims of these types of crimes tend to feel an enormous amount of guilt and shame."
"But in general, the one thing I think everyone needs to hear is 'You matter. A lot.'," Randy added.
People's actions towards you are a reflection of themselves, not you.
Your internal monologue isn’t always reliable, especially when you are anxious or depressed.
Randy also wanted to remind readers that therapy is not an immediate cure for any of our issues or struggles. "Therapy requires a lot of work outside the session to be impactful," he told Bored Panda. "Talking to a therapist without making behavioral and lifestyle changes is like talking to a personal trainer and then not going to the gym. It's never a waste of time, but you'll get so much more out of it if you do the work."
If you'd like to hear more wise words from Randy, be sure to visit Blunt Therapy's website right here.
Give yourself permission to grieve.
Not just for the loss of loved ones, but for anything that makes you feel sad.
The five-minute rule. Try something you usually enjoy but don't currently have the motivation to do for five minutes. Set a timer; if you're not enjoying it after five minutes, it's okay to stop. A five-minute challenge seems way more doable when you're unwell than longer ones.
When you place unexpressed expectations on someone, YOU are the one setting yourself up to be let down.
Personally, I've always had wonderful experiences in therapy, but I understand that it's not possible for everyone. So today, we'll settle for "trickle-down therapy" online. Be sure to upvote all of the responses that resonate with you, and feel free to share more insightful words you've gleaned from therapy in the comments below. Let's prioritize our mental health, pandas! Then, if you want to check out another Bored Panda article featuring advice from therapists that might give you a fresh perspective, we recommend reading this piece next.
No one sees the version of you that you see of yourself.
Friends will come and go. Family, in different ways, can and will do the same.
You're the only constant youre going to have in your life.
Be a friend to yourself. You wouldnt say any of the negative things to your friends that you say to yourself.
Learn to pick yourself up when you're down, but also allow yourself to be human.
It's difficult, but it's one of the most important things I've learned in my life as someone who suffers from Major Depression Disorder, and who beat himself up way more than I should have.
My psychologist told me that learning new skills and knowledge, or establishing a new habit, creates a new neural pathway in your brain. It's like hacking your way through a jungle; it takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to reach your destination (or achieve your goal). However, every time you do the thing, you reinforce that same neural pathway in your brain. As it is reinforced it becomes easier to fire up those neurons again, and thus, it becomes easier to do the thing. The jungle is still dense, but it is a little easier to follow the same path that you created yesterday, and every time you take that path it becomes a little more clear. Eventually the behaviour may become so automatic that it requires no effort at all to follow that path.
With respect to breaking a habit, or overcoming addiction: it takes serious effort to stray from your path, once it is established. Taking a new path means hacking through thick jungle again, but this time it requires even more effort because you know you could just follow the old, established path.
This analogy has helped me quit smoking, study for exams, and establish a walking routine when I was too depressed to move. If all you get out of doing the hard thing is the benefit of having done the hard thing one time, it hardly seems worth the effort. It's tempting to put it off until later. But if every successful attempt to do the hard thing makes that path easier to follow, it really is worth starting now. The reward is not just the infinitesimally small health benefits of 10 more minutes without smoking; the reward is actually proportional to the effort put in, because that is how much progress you have made towards your goal. Taking the easy path started to seem like a really dumb idea. Stubbornness kicked in and I started achieving goals.
Progress, not perfection
That my mental illness isn’t my fault, but it is my responsibility.
I was feeling a lot of pressure and guilt from my mom because she wanted me to do something for her that I really didn't want to do. One of my therapists (who heard a lot about my relationship with my mom) made a simple statement that really helped:
"If your mom wants you to do things for her, maybe she should be nicer to you."
It sounds so obvious, but because of mom's continuously using guilt to raise me and my siblings to feel shame, I had a hard time saying no.
This little idea really turned things around for me, not just between me and my mom, but also for other people in my life who like to treat me badly and keep expecting me to come back for more.
“You can watch people on their rollercoaster, you don’t have to ride it with them”
Works for all kinds of people/relationships in your life making things dramatic. This was said to me by a therapist almost 10 years ago and I still think about it all the time. It really helps put things in perspective.
*”Neither the past, present or future can be changed through my overthinking.”*
I don’t have to try to attack every negative feeling. Sometimes it’s okay to just be like “oh, hey sadness, I see ya” or “oh, alright panic, run your course while I finish doing what I’m doing.”
Acceptance therapy was the most powerful thing I ever did.
CBT, self-talk... it made me worse. Learning to just acknowledge the emotion and move on with my life was life-changing.
I have had a long time issue (10+ years) of what I now know is negative intrusive thoughts. I thought I was a monster for getting these thoughts to hurt myself and other people all the time. I suppressed them for a long time and accepted the fact the I was a bad person who was eventually going to do something awful one day. I never asked for help due to the fear of being discovered as a freak and in my head it was better to live with being a freak than ask anyone and risk being found out. I later tried to commit s**cide and even after that I couldn't tell a therapist how I was feeling and the full story of why I tried to commit s**cide. Skip forward a couple of years and while my depression had gotten a bit better, the thoughts were as bad as ever. I got into an argument with my parents and in a heated moment I told them how I get the urge to hurt myself and other people on a day to day basis. After a long talk I found a different therapist and went on a different anti depressant which helps treat OCD. It turned out that these thoughts aren't abnormal and don't make me a freak, I just got them more than most people and they could be managed. My therapist gave me the best advice I still try to follow on a day to day basis. Be more generous to yourself. I spent so much of my life thinking I was a monster and a freak that had no chance of being normal, that I never let myself feel good because I didn't deserve it. I am learning to be kind to myself and allow myself to enjoy my successes and to not beat myself up over my failures. It's harder than it sound to not hate yourself when you have for so long, but I just have to remind myself that I need to treat myself with as much value and respect I give to other people at a minimum. Hopefully my story can help someone else who needs it.
I was going on about something an ex had done that hurt me. I backpedaled a bit and said something like "I want to give them the benefit of the doubt." My therapist said, "Hey. I'm going to stop you there. I've noticed that you give EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt. Except for yourself. You have to be kind to yourself, you know?" Blew my freaking mind. Started bawling my eyes out, really freed me in a way.
We seek what is familiar to us, even if it’s really unhealthy. There is a comfort in familiarity because it’s what we know / learned how to deal with.
That you can’t control how people act towards you, but you can control how you react to them.
It’s something I use with my 9 and 6 year old to help them and it’s so effective.
I was talking to my therapist about how I absorb the moods of my husband and children. It was near impossible for me to be happy if even one of them was in a bad mood. My therapist told me that they do not have to be okay for me to be okay. This was life-changing to me, one of those moments when time slows down because you can finally see through the fog. My husband can be in a bad mood because of work, and I can be okay. My pre-teen son can be a moody kid, and I can be okay. Recognizing this has already started to transform my relationships.
My needs and wants are valid and worth voicing
That I needed to forgive myself for past childhood trauma.
It sounds stupid but we Cary that s**t for the rest of our lives.