Therapy is about helping you to help yourself. It’s not so much about being single or being in relationship, it’s about looking at how you manage yourself when in relationship with other people. It helps you look at how you project your issues and parts of yourself you don’t like onto other people, especially your partner. Therapy is about working with what is in your control and those behaviours you can take responsibility for. Therapy is not about listening and supporting you in blaming other people for your problems. That isn’t helpful to anyone. Not to say that everything is your fault, it’s not. But every relationship is a dynamic, which means two people are involved. Therapy is teaching you to be accountable for your contribution, even if it’s 10% of the problem.
Therapy also addresses your perceptions – how you perceive the world, other people, and yourself. Everyone has a different life experience, different parents, different messages that have shaped who you are today. We see the world as we are, not as it is. Everything is a construction we create of ourselves. You can only see what you have in your brain based on your history, your stories. Part of survival is making a quick judgement, coding it, and unconsciously making new people and new situations fit your stories.
Therapy helps people to notice, stop, and become more aware of what’s going on for you. It’s a process of getting to know yourself, what comes up for you from moment to moment, what and who triggers you, how you tend to react, and how you developed these defensive behaviors. Part of the issue is how hard we are on ourselves and how we criticize the things we don’t like about ourselves. When we take the time to understand our protective behaviors, we realize we make sense. Increasing self compassion is key for healthy growth and development. Furthermore, there is always a chance for a do-over. You can’t control the first thing that comes out of your mouth, but you can control the second thing. If you make a mistake, own it, learn from it, and let it guide your decisions going forward. There can be so much meaning in taking time to repair a relationships you’ve ruptured.
You, my friend, have the control, not other people.
Grace McDonald, M.A., RCC, RMFT
Registered Marriage & Family Therapist
Registered Clinical Counselor
T 604-873-9355 F 604-874-9355
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