For me the most life changing events are often the most painful.
It is at my darkest times that my inner self is least resistant to change. This may sound contradictory but it is when I am at my lowest I am most pliable.
“It is darkest before dawn.”
A very cliche way of illustrating this point but it rings especially true in this case. At my lowest points, after my most traumatic experiences my inner consciousness is inextricably ready to change. To shed its current state and transform itself. In the beginning this was never clear to me. I would often double down on my personality traits at the time to protect myself from these feelings and the abyss they created.
I would say this is how I spent the entirety of my life from 13 to 20. Digging my heels into the shitty side of my personality. The darker the moment, the more I would resist change. I had some of the darkest days of my life at 20 years old.
So just before my 21 first birthday I made a change. I flipped the script on my standard methods of coping with pain. I changed everything. I won’t get into the gory details of it here but I did everything I could to be the exact opposite of the person I was at the time. If I am being honest the transition was easy. Going sober, focusing on a clear goal. My consciousness attached itself to this new way of living in an extreme way. I was my most pliable. Anything to take me away from the direction my life was going and how I was feeling in at that time.
Fast forward 3 years. I was somewhat in cruise control. I had learnt some things and thought I new everything about the human experience. I thought I was thriving.
I was wrong.
Again fate would rear its ugly head and smash my spirit down to a depth I never thought possible. With everything I had learnt I thought I was immune to these things ever happening again. Clearly I had underestimated how difficult life can be at times. Again in this moment my inner self was screaming for change. Except this time I could hear it. I knew I had to reach out and get help.
This is why I went to therapy.
What I was about to discover from my experience in therapy was unlike anything I had ever imagined. The way I like to think about it now is this: If you think about your consciousness floating in an empty space. When you move through life, experiences good and bad attach to it. They attach to you. They become apart of what makes you, you. We are the sum of all our experiences. These experiences are like hooks. The negative ones with heavy weights attached to them and the positive ones like balloons. Pulling our consciousness in all different directions. Often with no regard for how we actually feel.
You have no choice but to move with it. In my case the bad was quickly outweighing the good. Often I wonder if it’s the same for most people. As these weights hook onto us and drag us down it’s this process where we slowly develop our anxieties and depressions. The deeper we fall, the more the anxieties grow. As if we are feeding them. We descend into a kind of internal hell.
This is essentially the reason for all of this.
The thing I found to be most helpful about therapy. When I was sitting in that room. Was the space. The quiet, safe space that was all mine.
As I talked and as my therapist listened. Not just passively listening but actively listening to what I had to say. With no judgment and no opinion, the hooks started to release themselves. The bad and the good ones. I was just able to float in my consciousness. My neutral self was able to breathe. The perspective I gained in these sessions was what truly changed my life.
Even if you just get this space for an hour. With repeated exposure the perspective is able to grow. In the beginning I went to therapy every week for about 10 weeks. Monday’s were my favourite days because I knew I was able to take an hour to release myself from all the bullshit that was stopping me from actually being me. Stopping me from living my life in my truest form. The more sessions I did the more my new perspective grew. In the beginning the change was slow, I was seeing things differently in my day to day life. But this stuff compounds exponentially the more I opened up the greater effect this new perspective had on my everyday life. Even if you use the other person as just a sounding board. Yes they are special techniques and lessons that we went through. But for me it was just being able to open myself up to an impartial person. (also there is something to be said for the fact you have to pay, it removes the anxiety of talking too much. You pay them to listen so go nuts.)
I am not saying I am cured of anything. That’s not how this stuff works. I still carry my deepest pains with me every day and I am far from perfect. The smallest ones do fade however and after a while I was able to leave those ones in that room. My new perspective also changed the way I looked at those deepest cuts. They became lessons because I had the tools to view them like that. The other side to therapy that I think people don’t give enough thought to is that it allows the happiest experiences to shine even brighter. You get to see the best of you in a new light and it is truly invigorating.
If you are still reading this you might be thinking what if i’ve had a truly blessed life and never a bad experience. This is probably pretty unlikely but we will explore the idea anyway. The aspect of therapy that I think is grossly overlooked is not the dragging out of hell but the subsequent elevation of one’s soul. I will explain it like this. After my first ten weeks I had a three week break over Christmas and went back for two sessions. I was improving so quickly and learning so much about my consciousness that my therapist and I came to the organic conclusion that I didn’t need therapy anymore at this time of my life. The goal of therapy is NOT to be in therapy forever. A few months passed and my new outlook on myself was quickly changing. This also drastically changed my outlook on how I wanted to live my life and what my future was going to look like. So after a few months I decided to go back. Still ultimately free of my darker past, I went back with a different goal. I wanted to expand my outlook even further. I wanted a space to look for the best version of myself rather than focusing on dragging myself to neutral. So as I write this I have been back for three sessions. Space about four weeks apart. And let me tell you, these have been even more life changing than the last. Every-time I went in with the thought in my head “I am doing pretty good at the moment, what am I going to say?” “Do I really need this”? Every-time my perspective on life was elevated to a height I did not know existed. I don’t want to sound hyperbolic. Each session truly was that fascinating.
I mean shit I am about to share a blog about my experiences in therapy to all my closest friends and maybe even a bunch of random people. I am completely opening myself up to the opinion of everyone who reads this.
Why? Because therapy changed my life. I feel so passionately about it I have to share it. Most of the people I imagine who might read this probably had a pretty big impact on my life and experiences that led me to be who I am today. For that I am eternally grateful. I think that is why I am doing this. If this story of my experience helps just one person take the step and see a therapist well then it’s all worth it. I will never tell anyone they have to do anything, all I want is to share my story. I plan to write these regularly on different thoughts I have on the human experience. I have read lots of books over the last 3 years and journalled everyday so I hope to articulate my learnings into somewhat easily digestible thought pieces.
I want to leave you with one last thing. Just going to see a therapist will not change your life. You have to really want to look at who you are. To explore the best version of what you find. It takes effort and a necessity to see change. You don’t have to wait for a really bad thing to happen. You just have to want it.
The first step in my opinion is this. Tomorrow morning, just after you wake up. Before you check your phone or talk to anyone. Take yourself to a quiet place and write down one thing you are grateful for. Really think about it. Something important.
You will be amazed at what this one act of self exploration opens up for you.
Louis – 17/11/22