Myla’s question: I have bad childhood memories, can’t silence my thoughts, and can’t form healthy habits or relationships. I know I self-sabotage, but always tell myself, “I’ve made it this far and I’m still a decent person, so why would I need therapy?” But I still feel like I’m stuck and can’t escape, mentally and emotionally. I’ve always wanted to try therapy, but have kept making excuses and always end up deciding “not yet”.
First, congratulations on taking this step and reaching out to inquire about something that has clearly been on your mind for a long time.
You are certainly not alone… I would bet that most people who are currently in therapy and benefitting from it did not arrive at their decision to start easily or quickly. And that is understandable. Even on the surface, simply the idea of telling a total stranger private, sensitive information about your life is daunting. It is counter to the way we most commonly approach life, confiding in people only once we know them and have built trust over time.
Here are some other common concerns that keep people from seeking therapy:
Fear of judgement — In life there is vulnerability associated with revealing ourselves to others. “What will they think of me?” is a question that can haunt us in the social world. Rest assured that therapists hear many life stories over our years in the field. What is a deep, dark secret for you is likely something they have heard many times before (and perhaps have experienced themselves.) A good therapist creates a judgement-free zone.
Reluctance to share complicated feelings about others — You mentioned painful childhood memories being among the topics you want to address. One thing that can make this difficult is guilt over expressing thoughts and feelings about the people who raised you. It is common that even people who were abused, neglected, or otherwise mistreated as children feel the need to counter every angry feeling or painful memory with assurance that their parents did the best they could and are not bad people. Therapists know that there are numerous aspects to every person. We are able to hear the full range of a client’s complicated feelings and not hear it as condemnation.