“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?
I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?
The vast majority of the clients that I work with in my Therapy practice waited far too long before admitting to themselves that they needed help and then deciding to seek it out. Why might this be? For many, Therapy was seen as a ‘last resort’ and an admission that they had failed. For others, Therapy was seen as scary, another source of judgment, and an admission that they were broken and could not be fixed.
For whatever reason many people find themselves like Atlas, struggling with a disproportionate amount of weight on their backs, and feel obligated to keep up the struggle despite the pain it is causing. In fact, Therapy should feel more like ‘shrugging’ than brutal work. Most pain that people hold onto is self-inflicted and once that feeling is accepted, addressed, and worked on in Therapy there comes a realization thru acceptance and self-love that there is hardly any weight to carry at all. One way to ‘unleash your inner strength’ is to embrace Therapy as a tool to help you learn more about yourself and grow as a person. The power of self-reflection and regular practice investigating thoughts and feelings is proven to make connections between the left and right hemispheres in the brain and increase memory, creativity, fluid thinking AND decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and hate.
So, why do people wait so long to seek out quality Therapy services? In our modern world there are endless affordable and quality resources available. Internet providers are available thru BetterHelp.com (you can find me there), Talkspace, and others. Free apps like Calm and Headspace are fantastic mindfulness/meditation tools that I encourage all people to check out and build important skills. Local providers can be found with quick internet searches and thanks to this ease of access most Therapists provide sliding scale fees or low-cost groups to engage with. In short, the access to services is not what prevents people from going to Therapy.
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen, Anthem
One reason preventing some from accessing needed Therapeutic care is the stigma associated with being vulnerable with yourself and others. Therapy is often seen thru a deficit-minded lens that keeps people defensive, self-absorbed, and self-centered. Humans are social creatures that thrive on interaction, love, trust, and caring. Therapy supports the best that we know about people and is a resource for all, not just those struggling with suicidal thoughts, grief, loss, abuse, or trauma. After all, none of us are perfect. We are imperfect beings that depend on each other for survival. Therapy is a tool to be used at the first sign of struggle or stress and NOT when things are so overwhelming we can barely function.
Opening up, being vulnerable, and asking for help is the most human thing any of us can do. This is what lets the ‘light in’! The American dogma around self-made billionaires, survival of the fittest, and ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’ does not bear out the truth of humanity and is a lie that causes more harm than good. Nobody is self-made. Society simply does not work that way. More wealth, health, and happiness is created by vulnerability, trust, and love than by anything else. The most successful people in the world credit their success thru hard work, determination, help from others, and acknowledging feelings of vulnerability. By accepting who we are, recognizing this aspect of humanity, and addressing needs from that standpoint we grow and learn rather than stagnate and wither.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Hopefully, people recognize the importance of feeling vulnerable as part of their work to better themselves and learn. Wallowing in shame and guilt is NOT the same as feeling vulnerable. True vulnerability comes from self-awareness, the strength to acknowledge where things are lacking or lagging, asking for help, and moving forward with intention. If you are defensive or fearful it is impossible to truly learn about yourself and grow as a person.
Therapy is a tool to assist people in learning about themselves from a professional in a structured environment. The more we understand the benefits of this type of work for ALL PEOPLE the less stigma there will be for others who need critical access to mental health treatment.