I’m not a big one for entertaining, but once a year my husband and I invite a boatload of family to spend the day with us. I usually invite them for noon, but since they feel totally comfortable with us, they arrive… whenever. After the hugs and kisses, we catch up on what’s new, munch down as much unhealthy food as we can, and when all are gathered, the children participate in our annual scavenger hunt.
To augment the hunt (these kids are so clever, they find things too quickly), there is also a Q&A section called “Things to Know about your Family.” That way the kids can find out interesting stuff about their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Typical questions: Who is on their school’s track team? (Answer: Cousin Dylan) Which of Aunt Naomi’s many talents makes Uncle Brian a happy man? (Answer: Gourmet Cooking) Which two people in the family are psychologists? (Answer: Aunt Linda & Uncle Ron) What do psychologists do? (Answer: Help Crazy People!)
No, no, no, my darling 10-year-old. That is not what psychologists generally do, certainly not Aunt Linda and Uncle Ron. Believing that is true is what stops many people from seeking psychotherapy or keeping their therapy hidden from friends and family.
I cannot say it loudly enough: You are not crazy if you want to see a psychologist.
Indeed, it’s more likely that you are smarter, more inquisitive, and more courageous than most. Why? Because you are interested in examining your life, broadening your consciousness, enhancing your communication skills, enriching your relationships, becoming more resilient, taking responsibility for your darker self. This is in contrast to many other folks who simply blame others for their difficulties and remain ignorant about the complexity of their own psyche.
What is psychology? It is not the study of crazy people. It is the study of the human experience, which includes how we think, how we speak, how we feel, how we react to others and much more.
What is psychotherapy? It’s a unique experience in which you can safely explore and learn about your psyche in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment. Most people seek out therapy because they have a strong desire to make their lives better yet are unable to let go of old self-defeating patterns. Difficulties often include relationship turbulence, communication chaos, career confusion, intimacy issues, anxiety, depression, stress and tension, all of which interfere with living the good life.
How does change happen in therapy? There’s no simple answer to this question.
Tikkun Olam, the Jewish mandate to “heal the world,” begins with healing ourselves. As the mystery of our own personalities becomes known to us, we can truly accept who we are. When we accept who we are, we are more accepting of others. When we are more accepting of others, we step into a larger life.
So, whether you are 10 years old or 110 years old, I hope you will not hesitate to seek out psychotherapy during stressful times. It just might be the best thing that you can do to create an enriched, enhanced, enlightened existence.