Anyone who has ever struggled in life and sought answers has been told at one point or another to “talk to someone”. In modern Western society, this is usually a shorthand for “seek therapy”. Maybe this advice comes from a loved one with a genuine concern, or maybe it’s a feeling that comes from within yourself. But the idea of trying to solve or understand your problems by talking about them to another person is universal and familiar.
In the same breath, I imagine, most people who have heard this advice, like me, have a strong internal resistance to the idea, see it as some sort of capitulation or failure. My problems are my own, goes this counterargument, I just need some time or some reflection to understand them, to put my house in order, and things will be alright.
I heard the suggestion to talk to someone for many years before I finally thought that I didn’t really have anything to lose, and that the resistance I felt might just be fear, and so I took the advice, found a therapist, and have been going once a week for a while now.
I don’t mean to share here all the details of my experience. It’s a deeply personal thing, something that I’m still in the process of, and anyway the personal details are not going to truly interest anyone except me. What I think might be interesting to someone who has not made the decision yet whether or not to “talk to someone” are some examples of things that I was unable to see until I did.
Human beings are fantastic at lying to ourselves. Our daily experience of reality is a construct that we have built out of decades of experience, of trial and error, testing the limits of our lived environment and building the walls with neurons once we find them. The process of critically and analytically looking at these constructs is invaluable, and crucially it must be done in the presence of someone else, someone objective, who is not afraid of shattering these constructs for you if they think they are interfering with your wellbeing. There is always a reason you feel the way you do, a reason you react the way you do to things, a reason you have constructed your worldview the way you have. Mostly you will know the reason on some level but are just not interested or not prepared to acknowledge or understand it. Without this acknowledgement and understanding there can be no change.
There are weeks when I walk away from a session amazed by the fact that someone else pointed out so obvious a truth to me about myself. How could I have not noticed it before? It’s infuriating, especially if you are observant, and genuinely interested in the process, as over time you can feel yourself becoming more observant and more aware and yet still you can miss such a blindingly obvious connection. But it’s also remarkably humbling and satisfying, to know that there is a way to still discover new things about yourself, and all it takes is the willingness to share.
Anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re curious, know that your resistance to the idea is probably based on some sort of fear, maybe invisible to you, and that there is no solution to your problems that does not involve confronting that fear. Talking to someone is a great first step.