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"My Therapist Told Me This 10 Years Ago, But I Still Think About It All The Time": People Are Sharing The Most Impactful Lesson They've Ever Learned Through Therapy

"My therapist told me this 10 years ago, and I still think about it all the time."

Maybe, you're currently in therapy. Perhaps, you're thinking about starting, or maybe, you've never thought about therapy in your life. Whatever the case, therapy can be an extremely impactful tool for the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. So, redditor u/RIPMexicanTraore asked "What is the best thing you have heard/learned from therapy?" Here's how people responded.

1. "My psychologist told me that learning new skills and knowledge or establishing a new habit creates new neural pathways in your brain. It's like hacking your way through a jungle; it takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to reach your destination (or achieve your goal). But every time you practice that skill or follow that habit, you reinforce that neural pathway. As it's reinforced, it becomes easier to fire up those neurons again, making it easier to do the act or behavior. The jungle is still dense, but it becomes easier to follow the same path that you created yesterday, and every time you take that path, it becomes a little more clear. Eventually, the behavior may become so automatic that it requires no effort at all. This analogy has helped me quit smoking, study for exams, and establish a walking routine when I was too depressed to move."

A hiker walking in the forest.

2. "When you place unexpressed expectations on someone, you are the one setting yourself up to feel let down."


3. "My therapist said that not everything is either 'good' or 'bad,' but there are a lot of things that are just neutral. For example, saying 'no' to a person’s request is not bad; it’s just neutral. It’s probably pretty obvious, but it wasn’t for me. I was so used to seeing everything in black and white that I had never even considered this."


4. "No one sees the version of you that you see of yourself."

A woman sitting holding her hands.

5. "Sometimes, when we procrastinate, we do so because we need to feel control (even when the only thing we can control is choosing not to do something and even when it contributes to making our situation worse). It took me years to come to terms with this."


6. "The fact that you are high functioning doesn't mean that your illness is easier for you to deal with. It means it's easier for others to deal with."


7. "We all have our baggage in some way, and it's not worth beating yourself up thinking that you are some kind of monster. Accepting this was huge for me."


8. "The human brain isn't designed to keep us happy. It's designed to keep us alive."

A person sitting in a therapist's office.

9. "Think about the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you. Don't think too long or hard, just come up with something. Now, think of a close person in your life, and imagine the most embarrassing thing that's happened to them. The second one takes a lot longer. This thought experiment goes to show that we all think about ourselves — and critique ourselves — way more than we do to others."


10. "You can’t control how people act toward you, but you can control how you react to them. This is a lesson I've learned that I now teach to my 9- and 6-year-old kids to help them, and it’s so effective."


11. "We do what we know — and when we know better, we do better."


12. "If you take good thoughts with a grain of salt, why not also take the bad with a grain of salt? Hear it, recognize it, and let it go."

A man meditating on the floor.

13. "Whenever I started talking about myself negatively, I was told to pretend that I am talking to my wonderful and sweet 5-year-old boy. I could never say the things I say to myself to my son. My therapist told me to envision someone telling my boy what I say to myself and how I would react. It was eye-opening to see how we are our own worst enemies."


14. "I was talking to my therapist about how I absorb the moods of my husband and children. It was near impossible for me to be happy if even one of them was in a bad mood. My therapist told me that they do not have to be okay for me to be okay. This was life-changing to me, one of those moments when time slows down because you can finally see through the fog. My husband can be in a bad mood because of work, and I can be okay. My pre-teen son can be a moody kid, and I can be okay. Recognizing this has already started to transform my relationships."


15. "Your internal monologue isn’t always reliable, especially when you are anxious or depressed."

Someone laying in bed, facing the window

16. "That I needed to forgive myself for past childhood trauma. It sounds stupid, but we carry that shit for the rest of our lives."


17. "My therapist taught me about the 'oxygen mask concept.' Basically, you have to put on your own mask first by improving your mental health and doing what’s best for you before you can assist others with their lives. This really made me take a step back from getting involved in other people’s problems because they wouldn't benefit me or my mental health."


18. “You can watch people on their rollercoaster, but you don’t have to ride it with them. This applies to all kinds of people and relationships that are making your life dramatic. My therapist told me this 10 years ago, and I still think about it all the time. It really helps put things in perspective."


19. "Give yourself permission to grieve. Not just for the loss of loved ones, but for anything that makes you feel sad."

A person looking sad, faced away from the camera.

20. "I don’t have to try to attack every negative feeling. Sometimes, it’s okay to just be like, 'Oh, hey sadness, I see ya,' or 'Alright, panic, run your course while I finish doing what I’m doing.' Acceptance therapy was the most powerful thing I ever did."


21. "That my past trauma and upbringing can't be excuses for my bad behavior. I have to be the one to break the cycle."


22. "You need to separate anxious thoughts from reality. Instead of saying, 'I’m a terrible person,' label the thought instead, and say, 'I am having a thought that I am a terrible person.'"

A crowd of people crossing a street.

23. "I can live with and accept what I went through because I like where and who I am now (mostly). That was a huge success for me."


24. "Don't judge your feelings; just try to understand where they're coming from. Judge your actions."


25. "You have a limited amount of energy and time in any given day — and you get to choose where you place that energy. Think of it like chips at a roulette table. When I feel angry thoughts about a news article, hear an opinion I disagree with, come across an asshole driving on the freeway...all of these things take energy, my chips, which are an extremely limited resource. Place your chips wisely. I stop myself many times a day from using mine now, and I’m much happier."

A gambler holding chips.t

26. "Not all relationships are worth saving."


27. "Seek progress, not perfection. As someone who has extremely high standards for myself, I have to repeat this daily."


What is something you've learned or heard in therapy that has made a big impact? Tell us in the comments.