For a lot of people starting therapy, it can be difficult to start opening up to someone about your mental health struggles. However, one of the benefits of having a therapist is having an outside viewer who is able to offer insights you might not have even considered.
1. "'What was adaptive then is maladaptive now.' Basically, the tools you used to survive trauma as a kid aren’t necessarily healthy tools as an adult. You've got to learn new skills and use better tools."
2. "As someone with anxiety and major imposter syndrome, my therapist would often ask for these metaphorical receipts. She would ask straight questions about reality, and damn, she cut through the crap. I would say, 'I'm so bad at my job; my students hate me.' She went, 'Didn't you just tell me the other day about what great student feedback you had?' I said, 'Yes, but....but...oh shit. You're right.'"
"They said, 'Prove it. Show me the receipts. If you truly feel this way about yourself and are sure it's true, then there will be evidence to back it up.'
There were no receipts. It forced me to face some realities my brain was lying about."
3. "'If you’re finding it difficult to put everything in your head down on paper because it’s 'too much,' imagine how heavy it must be to carry that around 24/7.' I’ve journaled during my darkest times ever since then. She was right."
5. "'Shit is warm,' meaning people will happily sit in a bad situation because it's comfortable and familiar, even if it's shit!"
6. "'Your feelings are valid, but they're not always true.' She said it in the context of imposter syndrome and feeling as though I was one wrong move away from losing everything. Of course, I felt that way; I'd been in survival mode since childhood. The reality was, however, I was doing great in my job, had a fiancé/husband who loved me, and friends who actually cared about my well-being as much as I cared about them. I wasn't about to lose anything in that context."
7. "'You can’t control how people behave. But you can control your distance from them.'"
8. "That anything you tell other people is a choice. You don't have to explain yourself or feel like you have to tell anyone anything. It really just helped me as an adult with feeling like I HAD to tell my mom certain things, but more telling her when I wanted to."
9. "The power of 'and.' I can be thankful for surviving the struggles I’ve experienced AND be sad about the losses they caused."
10. "That there’s no such thing as 'should.' There is what happened and what’s happening, but spending time/energy on what should have happened or what shouldn’t have happened takes away from what in fact did happen."
11. "I wasn't accepting my postpartum belly, and they said, 'You hate your belly because you grew up seeing your mother hate her own belly. If not for yourself, learn to love your body so that your daughter does not grow up hating hers.'"
12. "Whenever my anxiety starts to spiral and I go on talking about everyone else’s thoughts and motivations (that I’m assuming), I hear her voice saying this sentence: 'You’re fortune-telling again.' it reins me back in, reminds me that I’m trying to do a lot of mind-reading."
13. "Recovering doormat here. I tend to prioritize everyone but myself. It's old, but the saying is: 'Put on your own oxygen mask.' Saving others isn't your responsibility."
14. "'What are you going to do to make life easier for yourself this week?' I inherited this kind of Puritan work ethic; the idea that difficult weeks or lots of work must simply be endured. You put your head down and power through it. It was really a change of perspective for me to imagine purposely dropping a responsibility or choosing to schedule time to relax rather than just working harder. It may seem small, but it has honestly changed my life and my attitude."
15. "Forgiveness isn’t for them. It’s for you. And you don’t owe them a damn thing even if you do forgive them."
16. "'We live in shades of gray' was such a simple statement yet probably the most profound thing ever said to me in therapy. I've been in therapy for years due to my bipolar disorder and was a perfectionist overachiever in high school. I had a very all-or-nothing, black-and-white style of thinking. My therapist said this to me, meaning life isn't as easy as black-and-white thinking — there's a lot more to it than that. Again, it's really simple, and I guarantee she doesn't even remember saying it to me, but this is the only piece of life advice I've ever resonated with."
17. "Be your best friend: If you wouldn't accept this situation happening to your best friend, why would you accept it for yourself?"
18. "'...working the edge.' It means that not every problem needs to be addressed 100% head-on. You can dip your toes in, gauge, and figure out the problem from the outside in without a 'mandatory' mental breakdown every single day. If it gets too hot, stick a pin in it, cool off, and address it later from a different or gentler angle. You can address issues and truths with other people, with discretion and respect, too. That's not a personality trait; it's a skill."
19. "'You wouldn't talk to your close friends and family the way you talk to yourself and expect them to be better from it. You must try to talk to yourself the way you would talk to them, with encouragement and care, rather than bitterness and frustration.' That mindset has helped me in so many ways. Learning not to be my own bully has been difficult, but my god, has my life changed since I have been kinder to myself. Telling myself it's OK rather than I'm stupid, saying I can try again next time when I fail rather than telling myself I should have known better. It's freeing."
20. "My therapist told me that if I expect people in my life to be there for me as much as I am for them, or do as much for me as I do for them, then I have unreasonable expectations. I'm terrified she might be right."
21. "Peace of mind is more important than winning or proving a point. Let go of trying to convince people; be alright with them not seeing things how you view them. This will save you so much mental tension and built-up frustration and allow you to have peace of mind. Knowing that you can have a difference of opinion from someone else and move on."
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.