We can sometimes be our own worst enemy, repeating patterns even though we know the end result, forming relationships which cannot make us happy over and over again, or sabotaging ourselves through unhelpful behaviours. And even when we have identified the problem, we often find ourselves almost unable not to create the conditions which feed it.
Psychotherapy, through discussions with a qualified practitioner, helps you to become more self-aware and understand how your past experiences have been shaping your emotional and psychological make-up. It brings to the surface unconscious responses about your self-worth as well as how you perceive others.
Although we have moved on from Freud’s theories that everything has to do with the mother, it is nevertheless as true as ever that our emotional experiences during our infancy and childhood determine how we manage attachments for the rest of our lives, and defines our sense of self and our place in the world. From then on, most of our relationships will be duplicates, with variations, of the dynamics we had with those early relationships and how they made us feel about ourselves.
Feeling neglected or rejected are common causes of emotional detachment later in life and make it difficult for individuals to form meaningful connections. Traumatic experiences may be the cause of your issues, but even people with seemingly balanced childhoods can have developed unhealthy dynamics. Children of parents with seemingly “perfect” marriages can feel unable to ever measure up to this ideal image and shun commitment; parents and children with very different natures, for example timid children with outgoing parents and vice versa, can feel frustration, resentment and inadequacy which will have long-lasting effects, no matter how much love there was in the home.
Psychotherapy is a Safe Place
Therapy isn’t like talking with a friend. No matter how well-intentioned your friends are, it is in our nature to see things through our own filters – how many times have you heard “If I were you, this is what I would do”. But the fact is that nobody else is you! A therapist won’t give you advice. Their role is to help you discover what is best for you through insightful questions which will make you reflect on your dynamics and your life. So no matter how frustrating it may be at times to hear your therapist respond “What do you think you should do?” to a request for advice, it is for your own good!
Even though your therapist may know why you react to situations the way you do, their role isn’t to tell you either, but to guide you towards it. It is not uncommon for clients to be aware, on a conscious level, of their patterns, while remaining completely unable to overcome them. When it comes to psychological processes, there is a great difference between knowing something intellectually and actually “integrating” what it really means, which is what psychotherapy will help you achieve.
Although a crisis is often a trigger to start psychotherapy, it can help people deal with a wide range of issues, from depression, insomnia, feeling powerless or inadequate, eating disorders, bereavement, etc… By getting to know you, a psychotherapist will help you to deal with your present emotional difficulties and will help you reflect on what their roots might be. Working through blame and shame, therapy will help you identify what is your responsibility and to free yourself from what isn’t, which often offers great relief from illegitimate pressures.
While keeping channels of communication open with your loved ones is very important, therapy will provide you with time and space to concentrate on yourself alone, and will give you the freedom to express your emotions without having to censure yourself for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. It is a place to free yourself from all those past experiences that have been weighing you down, and shape your life, not according to what you think you are allowed to be, but by reclaiming your full potential and build what is right for you and makes you feel fulfilled.
Change is often uncomfortable, and it is human nature to resist it, especially when it involves revisiting difficult memories which can be painful or unsettling, but, with the help of a qualified psychotherapist, you will be guided to make it a healing process. Psychotherapy can be a place to be “re-parented”, and by facing your past, you will eventually be able to put to rest those strategies that no longer serve you well and to accept yourself with warts and all! Only then will you be empowered to realise your potential and make your life all that you want it to be.
If you are looking for a psychotherapist in Auckland, contact the Robert Street Clinic or call us on 09 973 5950.