What comes to mind when someone tells you they are undergoing Psychotherapy?
Well done you are getting better! Or oh my what’s wrong with you? I would argue both of these are a stigmatic response to that question.
Psychotherapy, especially in the UK, is seen as treatment for someone with a mental illness; fixing something that’s broken.
It doesn’t occur to many of us that actually being able to look inward and reflect on one’s thoughts and feelings can lead to not just a happier you but also one that makes better decisions throughout our lives.
Is ignorance bliss?
Have you ever felt you made the wrong decision time and time again but not sure why? Or maybe you feel anxious or angry with a feeling of no just cause. Almost like you are at the mercy of your emotions.
Many of us are unaware of where many of those thoughts and feelings come from. That being said how would we ever understand or start to change them?
So then why do I act like this?
Thoughts, feelings and the decisions they cause us to make stem from our past. We create unique schemas based on our lived past experiences and latent mental impressions. These rest in our unconcious, allowing us make sense of the world and intrun form the basis of our thoughts and feelings within our lived experiences. Some of them would keep us safe as a child or help us make friends as a teenager and even help us land our first job. As time goes on however, the schemas become outdated yet our unconsciousness still views these schemas in a posstive way.
( For example, your parents enforcing that you need to be quiet in public places has left you feeling unable to voice your thoughts within a group) They are concrete and safe, a grounding that our thoughts and actions are based on. It is when these schemas don’t work the way they used to that we start feeling confused and bitter.
‘It worked before so why should I change?’ It’s a miss-match between the conscious and the unconscious mind and this difference is what can lead us feeling depressed, anxious or angry. These emotions cloud our judgement, essentially leading to us to (again) ground ourselves in our ‘safe’ established schemas which, in turn, lead us to make decisions which may not be in our best interests.
Many of us live in this perpetual world of ignorance which we will continue to affect our daily lives if our schemas are not uncovered and examined.
How Psychotherapy can help
Psychotherapy aims to not only deal with our issues and emotions but also to uncover when and how these schemas were created. Acknowledging that these schemas might of worked when you were younger, but examining why they are not now. This leads to us looking at ways of adapting and changing ourselves so that we:
- Make decisions which are in our best interest
- Understand and have more insight into our thoughts and feelings
- Lead to a more insightful, reflective and more authentic life
In our age of iPhones, tablets and hectic work schedule, we are taught to distract ourselves from our thoughts and feelings. We grow physically but don’t have time to ask the question; whether we are making the right choices, need help with a direction or if we are even happy. Society expects us to shun these questions and as the saying goes, ‘Keep calm and carry on’. No wonder many of our schemas do not change over time.
What is apparent is just how important introspection and self examination is to us living a life which is more fruitful and authentic to what we want and expect of ourself and our life.
To find our more about psychotherapy please see my page: What is psychotherapy and counselling?