Things therapy has helped me do, unrelated to a diagnosis

I spend a lot of time thinking about how much I resent 90’s sitcoms for stigmatizing therapy. The picture we paint of mental health services is, “you have to be broken to need help.” Nah.

Therapy, for me, is an hour a week where someone asks me questions and, on a good day, those questions lead me to answers I always thought I would figure out on my own, but never took the time or had the self-compassion to. A lot of the things I’ve accomplished are basic, minimal, pragmatic, but so important. I’d like to share them, because I have to assume a lot of these problems affect every single person I know, and I didn’t even know some of them had solutions until I got coaching.

Therapy has helped me:

  1. Gather confidence and a convincing pitch to ask for a raise.
  2. Ask for specific things I need from friends and romantic partners (and acknowledge no one will know what I need until I tell them).
  3. Set small financial goals over time and pay off my credit card.
  4. Drink less at social events by finding ways to be present in individual conversations.
  5. Negotiate interesting tasks at work.
  6. Lessen guilt and shame about dumb things I said in the recent/distant past.
  7. Recognize that some shame I feel is because of things people said not based in objective fact.
  8. Apply to jobs that are good fits.
  9. Set boundaries with my parents and friends, even when it sucks, so I don’t lash out down the road.
  10. Feel ok with a dip in my number of projects, and trust that more will come if I want them.
  11. Recognize and respond to emotional scars from past break ups, even if I’m in a loving relationship.
  12. Handle the jealousy toward friends having more success than me, so I can love & applaud them.
  13. Take less time to send emails, and other tasks that were time consuming and painful before I started working on feelings of perfectionism.
  14. Conversely, write angry emails about things that upset me, and then save as drafts I never send.
  15. Accept that often, when people are unkind to me, it’s because they suck, not because I do.
  16. Accept that when I 100% was the sucky one, even if I can’t find a way to apologize, I can still love myself.
  17. Consider lost love, romantic or friend, a sunk cost I can mourn rather than something I have to bang my head against walls to fix.
  18. Trust that some people will literally just never like me, but that doesn’t mean they’re out there convincing my actual friends to dislike me.

Most importantly, therapy taught me that you can feel pain and not have to do anything about it. That you can just try and love yourself while you heal. It taught me that I will always mess up, but that my mistakes don’t invalidate my strengths or good deeds. It taught me that it doesn’t make me a better person to beat myself up for my flaws – only to accept them and keep working on them. And now, I have a structure to work on them.

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8 great ways to stop comparing yourself to others

1. Focus on what you truly love.

For instance, it turns out I really love picking at my skin when I start to think about my past, present or future.

2. Delete your Facebook.

Actually, delete all social media. Leave group texts. Really, if you can compare heart reacts on a platform, you’ve invited the devil into your heart.

3. Spend time with friends who are not competitive.

But try not to think about the fact that they’re better at being non-competitive than you are.

4. Apply or audition for more opportunities.

But then just go ahead and block the contact who would reject you and forget you ever tried. If they really want you, they’ll call you. Come to your home? Put a fortune in a cookie? Trust the universe.

5. Throw away your scale.

More importantly, burn all of your clothes with judgmental sizes. “Small,” “Medium,” “Large.” Oh, the fashion industry thinks they can judge my body from their luxe rayon-blend towers?

6. Crush your mirror, selfie cam, and reflective surfaces such as computer screens.

You don’t need to see yourself. You’re great. Job interview? If your hair is meant to look good, it will find a way.

7. Just don’t look at or talk to people.

Especially not people who you admire. Your admiration will make you question if they admire you less. Or not at all. Oh, no, what if it’s not at all?

8. Bury yourself in a hole

But, like, be sure not to look at anyone else’s hole on the way to your plot, because, like, what if they’re nicer?

In your hole, it will be cool and quiet, which is a comparatively nice way to spend eternity, isn’t it?

I put a feminist requirement in my OKCupid “message me if” so you don’t have to!

I re-activated my OKCupid account after a breakup in April and have been passively checking occasional messages ever since. One thing I did add in my post-breakup haste was add something to the “message me if” section. I’d stopped using this section years ago after realizing any information provided led to a trashfire of an inbox, but like in every breakup, you come away with new things to DEMAND in your next partner, and I had some DEMANDS. Read More

“Feeling alone is a fact of life”

When I was in college, I spent a year in Germany, and it was the loneliest period of my life. In a country where I had no support network, didn’t speak the language, and was cold all of the time, I could find little purchase for love or joy. I was so depressed that I pushed away the only people who I could feel close to because it was all I could think or talk about. Read More