I recently asked this question on my Instagram & Facebook – “Have you ever been in Therapy?”
And even though I had an idea that it’s quite rare in Pakistan, I was still shocked to see that only 2 People out of everyone I know responded with Yes. So this week I thought, I’d share my journey with Therapy.
What is Therapy? And Why would I ever need it?
Starting from the simplest question. What is Therapy? The definition that I heard growing up was a very negative one. It goes like this: Therapy is only for the people who are mad, crazy, and dysfunctional. It’s only for the extreme cases such as when a person has Schizophrenia or acts like he’s possessed by some supernatural force.
So naturally, when I use the word therapy in front of someone you can imagine their reaction and their minds going wild 😂.
But here’s what Therapy really is! The first time I went to therapy, it was just out of pure curiosity. Because I had seen that in movies so many times and I always wondered what does it feel like in the real world? If you don’t know already, I’m a very curious and weird guy who actually enjoys experiments like these. I do stuff that I don’t need to do but I still do it out of curiosity to see what does it feel like.
Exhibit A: Even to this day when a waiter at a restaurant tells me: “Careful! This plate/bowl is hot”. I still go ahead, touch it and burn myself just to see how hot it might be. How hot can a thing be to come with a warning? And trust me, it’s always hot enough to burn you but I still do it 😂.
Here’s a quick sum-up of what Therapy really is: All of us already get therapy but we don’t just know it. When we talk to a friend about our problems and he gives us possible solutions or new ways to think about the problem, that’s Therapy. When we pray to God and talk to him discussing our hopes, fears & wishes, that too, is Therapy.
We haven’t just gone to a professional Therapist who has trained specially for that. A trained Therapist is able to listen to your thoughts, process them and help you make connections between them. A Therapist doesn’t know you so he doesn’t have any assumptions, he doesn’t judge you and he’s able to make sense of your thoughts like no one else can. Our friends, family, and anyone we talk to on day to day basis know us so well that they can’t be the ones to look at your life impartially.
For me, Therapy is a tool just like any other tool that helps you perform a specific task. Therapy helps me make sense of my thoughts and enables me to help see new solutions, options. Therapy even helps me see my blind spots, stuff that I had ignored for so long that I had totally forgotten about.
What Does the First Therapy Session Look Like
Anyone considering going into therapy has the same question as I did. What happens in the First Therapy Session? How do I prepare for it? What should I know?
All of these thoughts are overwhelming. Because we feel like the Therapist might judge us or what if a certified Mental Health Therapist tells us that we indeed are Crazy? Right? But all of these fears are irrational. The sole job of a Therapist it to NOT JUDGE YOU. Instead, a Therapist listens. And listens very carefully. Even if we hate ourselves for it, a Therapist would never hate us. That’s really important. Because we can’t share all our thoughts with everyone. We don’t feel safe, we don’t feel like we’ll be heard. And we fear being judged or damaging our social image.
Another huge difference between talking to a Therapist & talking to a Friend is that Therapy is intensely focused on You. Whereas a friend might not be always able to focus on just you. He has his own problems that he wants to discuss and it’s unfair if you try to put such a huge responsibility on a friend.
The first session is just that. It’s all about you, your journey. Your struggles, achievements, and everything good or bad that happened in your life. The first session is YOU telling YOUR story in your own words. And doing so is such a unique experience. In our day-to-day lives, we never get a chance to talk to someone who REALLY wants to understand us. Let alone meeting a stranger who is so intensely interested in your life story. Knowing that you’re heard and the next person cares without expecting anything in return is such a liberating experience.
Even if the idea of Therapy scares you, I would still recommend everyone to go and have at least ONE THERAPY SESSION. Not with huge expectations to solve all your problems but with the simple hope to MEET YOURSELF. The hope to see yourself as the person you’ve become and your whole life journey. What your life used to look like and what it looks like now. All of that knowing you’ll be heard and knowing you won’t be judged!
Alternatively, you can assign an hour and write down your journey in a Diary. Share all our secrets without the fear of being judged. That’s also a good start if you haven’t done that already. But a Diary can’t help you make connections from your past to your current life like a Therapist might.
How Therapy Helped me Personally
I’m an introvert and a Scorpio. If that doesn’t tell you enough, I have a very private personality and I like to be with my thoughts. I don’t enjoy any extrovert activities even if they are as small as making small talk or as big as being among a lot of people in an event. That just drains my energy and I feel so tired if I’m forced to do so.
Why I’m telling you that? Because sharing my hopes, dreams and fears don’t come naturally to me. And the idea of sharing all that with a stranger scared me. But I still went through it only after my first session I was able to see that Therapy isn’t like our day-to-day social interactions where we’re constantly judged for our failures. Where feeling guilty about our mistakes is such a common thing. I didn’t feel Guilt, Shame, or Judged in my first session which was a game-changer for me. I didn’t realize such an interaction is possible where I was actually heard and not judged or shamed for how I feel.
So as the journey started, I didn’t take Therapy much seriously in the beginning because it’s such a slow process after the first few sessions. The first few sessions are VERY interesting and even after 3 years, I can see how the things my Therapist and I discussed in the first few sessions are still the topic of our discussion. The first few sessions are to evaluate your blind spots, your problems, and how your mind tricks you into doing the stuff that you wouldn’t normally do. But you keep doing the same stuff over and over again just out of Habit.
Now back to how Therapy helped me. I’m an extremely Logical person who doesn’t like sharing his thoughts & life activities with others. And yet here I am writing a very personal blog post sharing a very intimate experience. That’s because of Therapy.
The biggest reason I don’t like sharing my thoughts is that I’ve known all my life to be different from others around me. Whenever I would gather the courage to share what I thought, I would be judged, shamed, or forced to feel guilty. That includes Friends, Family, and even Parents. That’s a very sad & lonely place to be at. But as time passes, we learn to live with ourselves. We don’t share what we really feel like. Rather we just share what we feel others around us can understand to avoid any trouble. That doesn’t look like much of a problem in the beginning and why would it? We just found a way to avoid shame & guilt and learned to live in the society around us right? But at what cost? At the cost of burying our original thoughts and personalities? And for who? The people who don’t understand us? Who don’t have the mental capability to understand? Or even try to understand why we think in a particular way?
The longer we hide our true selves from not just others but ourselves, the more we feel the void inside us. Something feels missing no matter how much money you make, no matter if you find the love of your life, no matter whatever you thought would make you happy, even if you get it, you will still feel empty inside. Because guess what? We abandoned our true, authentic selves a long while back. And whoever we are today, whatever society wanted us to be, it is not who we actually are. And the only way to go searching for our original selves is through the process of Therapy.
In my journey, I’ve found how emotions play a vital role in our lives. I had learned to avoid and dismiss all emotions because they did not make any sense to me. Now mind you, they didn’t go way at all. I just tuned them out, like we learn to ignore the noise of the fan or tune out voices around us. The voices are still very much there, but the longer you ignore them, the quieter they become. And the quieter they become, the more difficult it is to hear them when you want to meet your past authentic self.
To Summarize Everything
I don’t want this post to be a challenge to read. So I would sum it up with the thought that for me Therapy is a tool to share my thoughts just like I would with a Diary. But a trained Therapist is able to do much more with your thoughts than a diary would ever be able to. A Therapist can help you meet yourself. A Therapist can help you identify what you care about and what you don’t care about. A Therapist can help you face your demons, irrational fears and break the patterns you’ve learned over the long journey of life.
A Therapist can help you rebuild yourself on your own terms. Not on the terms that the society and people around us decide for us. My journey with Therapy has allowed me to look back at my past and see all the stuff I’ve lost along the way. The things that I enjoyed so much before, that just got lost along the way.
And finally, Therapy is the reason you are reading this blog post. Because I no longer give a FUCK about what anyone else has to say about my life, thoughts, hopes & dreams. If you come in peace, I welcome you and I would love to have a little chat with you. But if you came at me with your own twisted thoughts and try to tell me how to live MY LIFE in your own twisted way, to you sire, I bid Farewell 🙂