Women Are Sharing The Question Their Therapist Asked That Made Everything Click, And They’re Pretty Mind-Blowing
"Do you think that story you're telling yourself is accurate?"
Note: This post mentions sensitive topics including eating disorders, sexual assault, substance abuse, and abuse.
Sometimes, to lead you to your own realizations, therapists may ask you questions that help you contextualize things or see something in a different light.
1. "'Do you think that story you're telling yourself is accurate?' For me, when my therapist asked me this, it was in the context of my anxiety. I was discussing my (at the time, recent) breakup with my long-term partner of seven years. I told my therapist I felt like I was a terrible person for wanting the breakup because we were growing apart. And it just clicked in my head that I was feeding myself a narrative to justify my thinking I was a terrible person."
"I thought we could work through our differences and come out of it stronger, but it just didn't end that way, unfortunately.
To paraphrase, she said, 'You've told me that people always comment how sweet of a person you are, how helpful you are at work, that you're a great listener and a considerate person. Do you really think your motive for ending the relationship was done in malice?'
Now, when I feel that way, I take a moment to assess the context. Am I feeling this way because I am actually behaving irrationally, or can I give myself credit for looking out for my mental health?" —u/SpumpkinPice
2. "'If you weren’t related to your relatives, would you be friends with them? If not, then why does it matter so much to you what they think?'"
3. "My therapist said, 'You realize you're describing domestic abuse?' I responded, 'Oh, no, he's never hit me.' My therapist then proceeded to explain emotional, psychological, and financial abuse."
4. "It wasn't a question, but I was supposed to have four covered sessions with him. At the end of the fourth session, before I told him myself, he said something along the lines of, 'I think I have way too little experience with the things you are dealing with to be helpful for you.'"
"Really appreciated that." —u/Special_Koala_1093
5. "'Why aren’t you allowed to be happy right now, instead of when you’ve lost weight?' I suffer from binge eating disorder, and this is the reason I went to therapy in the first place. The hardest thing I learned through therapy is that I had to accept myself for who I am now in order to make any progress. This helped because I wasn’t putting so much pressure on myself to lose weight — like everything was riding on it."
"I gained a lot of weight and went back and forth with diets, calorie counting, and excessive exercise to try and counteract my excessive eating. Obviously, none of this worked, which just made me feel completely hopeless as I gained more and more weight.
I had to like my body and be happy and content in my skin. I am happy with the way things are now, although I accept that I have to make healthier lifestyle choices since I am still overweight.
If this sounds familiar to anyone, get professional help. You are not lazy; you have a mental health issue that needs treatment. It was like a weight lifted from my shoulders that felt like it had been there my whole life." —u/darkhorse2803
6. "'Is that going to matter five years from now? How about five months? Five days? Will it even matter five hours from now? Then why are you wasting more than five minutes worrying about it?'"
7. "'Why do you keep referring to yourself as having anger issues and emotional issues?' It was the first time I had even considered that the 'anger' issues I was told I had from when I was a small child were just my family not wanting to deal with my emotional needs. I'd been gaslit my whole life to think that all of my emotions were unreasonable and 'extreme,' when they actually weren't."
"I recently 'graduated' from therapy (my choice, with the door always open to go back). It took me one and a half years to relearn emotions, how to express myself, and not 'protect' people from my emotions.
I do feel emotions strongly (I was diagnosed with ADHD), but none of my reactions are extreme." —u/WrackspurtsNargles
8. "'And is that working for you?' She says it all the time. It’s really helped me understand that there are reasons I’ve thought about or done things a certain way — and that isn’t bad, but now that my life is different, those ways are not working for me anymore."
9. "In regards to negative self-talk: 'The things that you say about yourself — if your closest friends were depressed and going through a hard time, would you say the same things to them?'"
10. "My therapist told me, 'I don’t think you’re happy or know what makes you happy. You’ve spent your whole life trying to make others happy and have never focused on yourself. You’ve worked so hard for a life you can put on a postcard (wife, great house, career, etc.), but I don’t think you want any of it.' I responded, 'You're crazy. Of course I know what makes me happy!' She then told me to name five things, and I couldn't."
"This conversation made me significantly change my ways and has probably been the single most impactful statement in my entire life.
She was right." —u/Tickle_Shits_
11. "My therapist doesn't usually ask questions, but she did ask me something that made me think deeply during my architecture licensure examinations. She asked, 'If you were an honors graduate in college, you tested well, and you studied, why wouldn't you pass the exam?' My imposter syndrome was really, really on high, and I was totally afraid of failing."
"I passed, and it's been three years since then." —u/IntoTheVortex88
12. "'Do you think your grief is about the relationship ending, or is your grief about what you think could have been and how you thought it was going to be?'"
"It was the latter." —u/donner_dinner_party
13. "My college counselor asked me, 'Some people would be happy when they tell you your strengths, but why are you crying?' It made me realize that I don't believe myself even when I'm telling the truth. I don't believe that I have the capacity to do anything good."
"She made me realize how much I needed psychotherapy." —u/IntoTheVortex88
14. "'And what's stopping you from doing that?' Sometimes, it's helpful to have someone point out that in many ways, we are or create our own obstacles."
15. "For me, 'Do you think that story you're telling yourself is accurate?' is the case that the abuse I've had means that I don't trust myself, my gut, or my version of events. There's one especially traumatic event that I've recently started to think was probably a dream rather than real, and I no longer have any certainty about it. If it's true, it's a definitive event that validates my trauma for me."
"If it's a dream, it changes how I feel I should behave in regards to someone else." —u/knotatwist
16. "'At what point does trying become doing?' I was having a rough time and felt like nothing was going right despite how hard I was trying. Basically, I needed to give myself more credit, stop being so hard on myself, and recognize what I was doing right."
"I said just that, 'I’m trying, I’m trying.' And she asked, 'When does you’re trying become you’re doing? You’re trying, and you’re doing this, this, and this. So are you doing or trying?'" —u/wanderlustliz
17. "'You say that, statistically, you shouldn't be alive. Do you believe that you don't deserve to be alive?' It really hit me. I thought I'd dealt with my issues around self-worth a long time ago, but I never realized they partially stemmed from survivor's guilt."
"Therefore, I hadn't addressed that source in previous therapy trajects." —u/nzkfwti
18. "'Appreciate the quality, not the quantity.' I had spoken to her about some very intense emotions. My mother had me in her late 40s. She currently has cancer and has reached retirement. I’m her youngest (20), and we have an AMAZING relationship. Recently, because of the anxiety that life gives, I’ve been upset because she’s getting older and I haven’t had a ton of time (in retrospect) with her."
"Ms. Therapist basically told me to take a chill pill and appreciate what I have. She’s absolutely right.
I realize that it’s not a question, but I hope my experience can help someone regardless." —u/BirdOfMinerva
19. "One of my all-time favorite things my therapist told me that anyone has ever said was, 'Emotions that get buried alive never die.'"
"So, let that shit out, and deal with it." —u/wanderlustliz
20. "She asked me to come up with one thing I physically liked about myself, and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t come up with a single thing. I broke down and cried, and that was when I realized I had a problem with self-image and self-hatred. All of my self-talk was negative. It helped me realize I needed to change my self-talk drastically and learn to love myself."
"I’m fairly pretty, and I was a healthy weight, but I thought I was massively overweight. It sounds superficial, but it kind of broke down a lot of walls for me and helped me realize I had more problems to work through than I thought, and not just surface-level ones.
It’s what has stuck with me most from therapy. That was 10 years ago." —u/911pleasehold
21. "'Why do you always seek their approval when you’ve never approved of their choices?'"
"This was an eye-opener when discussing my parents with her." —u/curiositycuredpussy
22. "'If that’s the case, maybe you should play the lottery?' I was spiraling, betting that I’d never substantially recover from an injury — predicting the future, black and white thinking. They brought up a good point: If I was so certain about my ability to predict a given outcome, I should start playing the lottery. My chances of winning were surely substantial."
"My therapist is wonderful and didn’t say this with judgment or ridicule. I struggle with cognitive distortions. It was a shrewd tactic to make me think about how much weight I give to anxious thoughts." —u/takemeup-castmeaway
23. "I was in an abusive relationship that left me severely traumatized. We were talking about responsibility, and how I felt like I should've done more to protect myself and see the warning signs. I talked about the first time he got frustrated with me for talking to another man. My therapist asked, 'When he got irritated with you that first time, did you know, at that moment, that he would end up throwing you against a wall, and you'd have to flee his house in the middle of the night in the dead of winter with no shoes on?' When I chuckled and said no, I just expected normal jealousy that we could work out together, she said, 'Exactly. You couldn't have known. Nobody expects their partner to abuse them. You need to be kind to your past self. You have experiences now that would help you if this sort of thing happened again, but you didn't then. You couldn't have known, and that's OK.'"
"I've been in therapy for a year now. This retelling is not nearly as eloquent as her response, mind you, but English is not my first language, so I'm translating." —u/DarthMelonLord
24. "She said, 'You choose who you are in a relationship with. You don’t get in a relationship because they chose you. You are solely responsible for deciding who to be with. And you can decide at any point that you don’t want the relationship anymore. You should be in a relationship because you chose them, not the other way around. It’s your life, not you serving their life.'"
"It's not a question, but it was powerful for me. I felt so dumb to have realized this, with her help, so late — but it’s totally changed how I approach relationships." —u/amelialouise429
25. "'Whose voice is saying those things?' My therapist recently told me at the beginning of our sessions that I made a lot of negative statements about myself, and she asked me that question. I said that it’s my voice saying that to me. Sixteen sessions later, I said something negative, and she asked the same question. This time, I said the voice is my mom’s."
"It really helped me realize that all the negative thoughts I have about myself are a product of what I’ve been brought up with." —u/fizzingwhizbeez
26. "'Are you the same person as you were before?' This question always brings me back from ruminating about things and lets me stay grounded. My therapist knew that I could handle the things I was always panicking about with self-regulation, wisdom, and coping skills, so I was worrying for nothing."
"Her reminder always lets me go, 'Oh, right. I am no longer in the past. I have the ability to cope with whatever comes.'" —u/whereverthelightis
27. "'If you had a child, would you let them be around this person?' Absolutely not. 'Why do you feel you don't deserve to be protected from this kind of person and abuse?'"
"'Who is taking care of the child in you that never feels safe?'" —u/turnedabout
28. "It's not a question but the answer to my question, 'Why am I like this!?' She said, 'It doesn't really matter.' To be honest, that pissed me off. I felt that if I just knew why I was like this, I could fix it. It took me years to accept that she was right. What matters is accepting that this is me and finding ways to work with it and around it."
"The why didn't really matter. Sure, it was informative, but I was not going to magically be able to fix it once I knew." —u/Cursedseductress
29. "'Can you control other people and their actions?' I struggle hard with anxiety, and I was in a relationship with a narcissist. My therapist asked me this in the middle of a rant about how I always felt like I had to explain my ex's bad behavior to others. When she asked, I just kind of sat there like, 'You know what, no. I can't.'"
"Nothing I do will make my ex change or stop doing what he does, and it's not my job to make him decent to be around." —u/JellyTwoForms
30. "'Who's the one putting pressure on you?' I used to talk about work anxiety, guilt over family things, or how annoyed I got at being the 'mom' friend. It was a tiny question, but it began to make me realize that I'm the one telling myself that I have to do these things. No one had ever looked at me and told me I had to carry the burden."
"I just walk up to it, pick it up, and then complain the whole time about this heavy thing that no one ever asked me to carry." —u/KnittinAndBitchin
31. "'Guilt implies that you did something wrong. Do you think you did the wrong thing?' He said this in terms of ending a relationship that was hurting my mental health. He also said that guilt is a learned feeling. We aren't born feeling guilt. People make us feel that way."
"It really made me rethink the things I have felt guilty about in the past!" —u/cassiechaosss
32. "'How are you feeling right now?' I am very bad at listening to and acknowledging my feelings and needs. I think way too much about those around me and prioritize their thoughts and feelings over my own. I’ve gotten good at ignoring how I’m feeling and downplaying my emotions. My therapist is very into mindfulness and asks me this question in a literal sense many times in our sessions."
"It’s not a, 'Hey, how ya doin’?' but rather a, 'How are you really? Are you tired? Anxious? Hungry? Bored?' It’s become a really important check-in as I try and sift out my own emotions from others’ feelings.
I use it a lot now even outside of therapy to be a bit more grounded, feel centered in my own body, and get better at giving myself space to feel how I’m feeling." —u/liatreela
33. "'You can’t give someone the shirt off your back. If you do, what are you going to wear?' I hated this question in that moment because, at the time, giving to others was a huge part of my identity — always making sure I was there for other people. I used to get angry when I would never get that back because, in my head, it meant that no one cared enough about me to give what I was giving. Turns out, they were just establishing their boundaries for what they're able to give without emotionally draining themselves like I was."
"I still struggle with it to some degree, but at least now, I feel better about taking care of myself first. Nine times out of ten, people understand that and have been very supportive." —u/republicoferica
34. "'Do you want to get better? You’ve been through a lot, so it’s OK if you don’t. But seriously, do you want to keep coming here? Because you can do that? Or do you want to get better and leave?' Basically, he was asking me if I wanted to actually recover and heal, because recovery and healing are sometimes harder than just staying damaged. After trauma, you really have to choose to get better. And it’s not entirely painless, so you have to choose situations that bring you pain and discomfort."
"For instance, you can sit at home every day, or you can push yourself into the outside world.
After a brief stint with drug use, psychosis caused by drug use, and a final bipolar disorder diagnosis, I went to a residential therapy program — like those ranches Dr. Phil would send problematic teens to. Because of COVID, I didn’t live there, but I had therapy every day. I was pretty far gone, so a lot of it was just practicing how to have conversations and go to stores." —u/MinervaMinkMink
35. "'What if this person apologizes? Are you even ready to accept an apology?' It hit me like a ton of bricks when she asked that. I wasn’t ready for an apology. I was still too angry, and I wasn’t ready to let go of that anger yet."
"This was in regards to my dad choosing his brother over me when I revealed my abuse." —u/TakethThyKnee
36. "'How can you get better if you still live with your trigger?' I moved out a month after she asked that."
37. "'What has your anxiety taught you?' I journal, and this was part of a prompt she gave to me. While I was journaling, I realized that my anxiety hits its peak when I’m not taking care of my needs."
"That totally reframed it for me and has helped me realize that my anxiety can be a friend to me when I’m not taking care of myself." —u/westmelancholy
38. "'If you asserting a boundary to someone who has taken advantage of you means they won't like you anymore or there will be awkwardness, why does that matter? You're already upset every day anyway because of the toxicity — so who cares if they stop talking to you? Surely, that's two birds with one stone.' It blew my mind, and I haven't peopled pleased since."
"Six years now of not putting myself second, and, wow, how my life has blossomed." —u/Correct_Assumption90
39. "'How does that serve you?' I learned through CBT that, a lot of the time, when we make bad decisions, there is a benefit. We don't make decisions we know will hurt us for fun. We make decisions that make something better in the moment — anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, etc."
"If you have a bad tendency and ask yourself, 'How is this benefiting you?' You can often find healthier ways to receive the same benefit and leave your bad tendencies behind more easily.
That might be old news, but it was pretty mind-blowing for me when I learned it." —u/straigh
Did any of these help you come to your own realizations? Or is there something your therapist has asked you that should be on the list? Let us know in the comments below.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.