Therapy is a useful tool that can help people learn about themselves, how they relate to others, and how to get the most out of life. People go to therapy for a variety of reasons, and the lessons you learn within your sessions can be extremely valuable to your everyday life.
While it’s true that getting results in therapy can sometimes take more time or effort than you expected, it’s also true that you get out what you put into the experience. The more open minded and vulnerable you are, the better chance you have at walking away with applicable advice that you can use day to day.
8 Lessons From Therapy
Here are 8 of the most impactful lessons from therapy that we can and should apply to our everyday lives.
1. Understand Your Feelings
Many people begin going to therapy to help them work through their thoughts, feelings and emotions. One of the more useful lessons therapy-goers can learn and then apply to their real world life is how to better understand your emotions and use that understanding to make your situation better.
Knowing what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way can give you deeper insight into yourself as a person and why you make certain decisions. If you tend to make knee-jerk reactions that are deeply rooted in your current emotions, by learning to take a step back and understand why you feel a certain way, you can also learn to make better choices.
2. Set Boundaries
Once you understand your feelings, part of applying what you learned about your emotions to your life is learning to set boundaries. This is an important step because by establishing healthy boundaries, you are helping yourself to reduce your stress levels.
Part of being able to set healthy boundaries is knowing your limits with certain people and situations throughout your life. One of the most common examples of setting boundaries is creating work-life balance. This means leaving your work at the office and having separate personal time to enjoy life outside of your job.
While this is a well-known example, there are many other ways to set up boundaries in your life.
For example, if your significant other and/or family members demand most of your time and help outside of your working hours, it is important to put your foot down every so often to ensure that you have time to recharge. This can be something as simple as having a conversation with them to help them understand your needs, and then setting aside time whenever you need it to focus on yourself.
3. Put Work Into All Areas of Health
At first, you might not see the connection between your mental and physical health; the two are extremely connected and it might take seeing a therapist to help you understand how deep that connection lies.
Many people who struggle with eating disorders initiate this behavior because they don’t feel physically healthy. However, there is also a deep emotional component. Those with eating disorders also struggle with their mental health and use unhealthy eating habits to help them cope.
Finding a healthy balance in all areas of your well-being is the key. One area to pay attention to is the brain-gut connection to benefit both physical and mental health. Our gut is usually a good indicators of health, feelings and intuition, so it’s important to notice when yours is trying to tell you something.
When both your mind and body are working effectively and symbiotically, you will be able to truly call yourself healthy.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable
It’s easy for us to place blame on the people around us for our current problems. One of the more important lessons you can learn from therapy is how to hold yourself accountable so you can get yourself into a better situation. Our actions and reactions have a direct impact on our lives.
By taking accountability for ourselves, in conjunction with understanding our feelings, we can make better choices moving forward.
An example of how you can take accountability in your life is in regards to your finances. People are often most stressed when it comes to their personal finances. In fact, 77% of Americans are anxious about their financial situation. Instead of feeling sorry about it and blaming your financial situation on a variety of factors, actively work to fix it by taking the time to comb through your finances, create a budget, and hold yourself accountable for sticking to it.
5. Seek Support
Another important lesson to take from therapy and apply to your everyday life is recognizing when you need help and actively seeking support. This isn’t always easy, but it’s also extremely necessary.
This directly coincides with understanding your feelings and then holding yourself accountable to asking for the help you need. The help and support you are looking for can come from a wide range of sources and in a variety of ways.
Your therapist is the professional route you can take when looking for the help you need. However, sometimes you can be in need of something deeper and more personal. This is when you can and should lean on your closest family or friends, or your significant other. Because they know you better than anyone else, they can give you the help you need.
Or, you can also seek the comfort that only an emotional support dog can offer. Wherever you decide to seek support, whether it be in one or multiple places, just make sure you are one hundred percent comfortable. Only then can you be truly vulnerable and get the help you need in that moment, whether it’s emotional, financial, or physical.
6. Avoid Comparison
Falling into the comparison trap is something that is extremely easy to do, and it’s something that is very hard to break out of. Especially in the age of social media and being shown the major and happiest moments of our friends’ and role models’ lives, it is easy to look at what they post and feel inferior. The lesson from therapy that you should apply to these perceptions is to avoid comparison.
This means taking a social media break when things start to become too overwhelming for you emotionally. Knowing when to walk away for your own well-being is a valuable skill that can help you in plenty of situations.
It also means looking for the positive. Whether this comes in the form of you following motivational accounts to see more realism on your newsfeed, or you taking a step back to practice gratitude for the good you do have in your life instead of focusing on what you don’t have.
7. Break Everything Down
Looking at daunting moments or tasks can be overwhelming for anyone. That is why one great life lesson to take out of therapy is breaking things down to make them more manageable. By taking something huge or momentous and instead looking at it as a step-by-step process, you’re making it more digestible and attainable for yourself.
For example, we’ve talked about how finances are a highly stressful topic. Taking that a step further and considering a large purchase, like buying a home, makes things even more anxiety-inducing. The home-buying process is something that can be confusing and complicated to the average person, especially if it’s your first time buying a home.
However, recognizing that ahead of time and preparing yourself in a realistic time frame can make milestones like this less overwhelming and in fact create opportunities for growth and personal independence. Breaking this process down and first understanding the financial requirements to buy a house and where you currently stand in terms of achieving this goal can help you take things one step at a time and make it less stressful.
8. Live in the Moment
Last but not least, learning to live in the moment is an important lesson from therapy to apply to your everyday life. Too often we get caught up in the things that don’t matter and forget to appreciate the small moments we’re living through. A simple example of this is going to an event and spending the entire time on your phone taking and uploading pictures instead of truly experiencing your surroundings.
The trendy word for living in the moment is mindfulness. While that word may cause some to roll their eyes, it’s actually an important approach to making sure you’re living a fulfilling life. Practicing some mindfulness exercises can make you better equipped to recognize those times when you need to put your phone down or your negative thoughts aside and embrace the moment.
Therapy is a useful way to get your feelings out and get the help you need for whatever situation you’re facing. The progress you make within the four walls of your appointments is important, but so is taking the lessons you’re learning in therapy and applying them to your everyday life.
Whether you’re setting healthy boundaries with your significant other, reaching out for help in times of personal crisis, or breaking down the process of buying a house so it’s more manageable and less stressful, these are all small steps that lead to a better quality of life.
By taking these lessons and applying them to whatever you face outside your therapist’s office, you’re showing true growth and making progress toward your personal happiness.
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