Every single person on the planet would benefit from seeing a therapist at multiple points throughout their lives. Here are the important things I learned from my therapists.
Whether it’s for navigating a significant transition (like leaving high school, entering the workforce, the first experience with death, getting married, becoming a parent, first major breakup or divorce, etc.) or for cleaning up our relationship with our childhood trauma and emotional wounding, the benefits of therapy are truly immeasurable.
I have had the good fortune of spending hundreds of hours with some powerful teachers, coaches, and therapists throughout my lifetime. Some of them I met with in times of crisis and transition, and others to do more deep psychological cleaning. But I got a ton of value from each person, and each conversation.
In this article, I want to quickly skip a stone over some of the biggest insights I ever received from my therapists.
These insights were specific to me and my journey… but chances are, if you’ve been following my writing for any length of time, then it’s likely that you and I have a good amount of overlap in who we are as people.
So without further ado, here are my four greatest things that I learned from my therapists, coaches, and teachers.
1. You can find an example of people doing better and worse than you
“If you want to find an example of someone who is doing better than you, you can find it. If you want to find an example of someone who is doing worse than you, you can find that too.”
I was 17, and already a burgeoning little workaholic with a mean case of comparison-itis. Okay, not officially what my therapist told me I had, but you get what I’m saying.
After drowning in comparison of what certain other people in the world had accomplished by my age, my therapist (named Pippa) told me the folllowing.
“Jordan, if you want to find an example of someone who is doing better than you, you can find it. If you want to find an example of someone who is doing worse, you can find that too.”
This wasn’t all that new of a concept. Yeah yeah… it’s bad to compare ourselves to other people because we’re totally different. But the way that she said it really landed for me that day.
Put another way… your mind gets to be right about whatever it wants to be right about. So what are you going to focus on? Your own process… or will you spend your remaining days comparing yourself the others?
Whatever your mind wants to find, it is available. You choose where to focus. Full stop.
(Side note: when I was 17, Facebook didn’t yet exist, and social media wasn’t really a phrase that anyone had ever heard. So I can only imagine that the comparison game that is available to modern teenagers is way more intense and difficult to navigate.)
2. An overarching reframing of what a painful childhood is like for children
As you may have read in previous articles of mine, one of the greatest challenges of my early childhood (and one of the things that has shaped my life the most) was that I was bullied for years by my older siblings.
For a good portion of my teens and 20’s I completely repressed the pain that I had felt around that part of my life, to the point where I really, truly forgot about it for well over a decade.
I was doing some deeper inner child work with a therapist in my late 20’s when the topic of the bullying came up. She asked me how I usually referred to it. “What word feels true for you? In your thoughts, do you call it bullying, or do you use a different phrase?”
I told her that, “Honestly, I don’t really call it anything. In my head or out loud. I try not to think or talk about it.”
She accurately picked up on the fact that it was something that I had repressed and denied to a large extent, and so she launched into a brief monologue about a different way to consider my childhood.