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  • Writer's pictureLarry Larson, LCSW

Do I need therapy?

That’s a question most of us ask at some point in our life during difficult seasons. How do we know when it’s time to “see someone”?

Repeated patterns of frustration

Have you started to notice a habit of being majorly triggered by minor triggers over and over? Does it seem like you seldom get the resolution you want to conflicts? During arguments do you become overly aggressive, or do you run and hide like you did when you were scolded by your 4th grade teacher?

Unproductive self-soothing

Where do you go when things get hard? Obsessive house-cleaning? Drugs? Alcohol? “Leave me alone!”? Outbursts of anger? Inappropriately trying to change or control other people? We all have our favorites. But take a look at these hiding places. Does going there ever help for more than 20 minutes? Does going there cause more problems? If so, it’s time to get some help.

Slower rebounds

Is it taking you longer to recover from stressors in your environment? Do you feel exhausted from the constant barrage of stuff you have to “deal with”? Is it hard to remember the last time you felt like your life was manageable?

Loved ones suggest we get some help

We all have blind spots. We can’t possibly see everything, especially about or within ourselves. To make it worse, we get tunnel vision and tunnel hearing when we are under stress. We lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes we need friends to remind us we are straying from our true healthy selves. Trust those truth-tellers in your life who love you and have your back.

Finally, some cultural context

Let’s understand that all this therapy talk occurs within a modern Western cultural context. Independence and self-reliance are baked into our red-blooded American DNA like apple pie and Chevrolet. After all, it’s the “Declaration of Independence” not the “Declaration of Healthy Interdependence”. We are programmed and socialized to figure things out for ourselves because that’s what it means to be “strong”. I call bullshit on that. The image of strength projected in our cultural icons like John Wayne or Mark Zuckerberg is a myth. “Self made man” is a myth. It’s just that we don’t see the scaffolding that got them there. Actual strong people have enough self-awareness to know how to manage their weakness, and they are willing to borrow from the strength of others when necessary.

It takes courage to ask for help especially if you are generally a competent person. It’s so hard to admit we have weaknesses, that we have hurt people we care about, that we can’t seem to manage our rage, that we feel alone or desperate.

Be brave! Get some therapy if you need it. What have you got to lose? Maybe a little pride and money. Better to lose those things than to miss an opportunity for growth and renewal.

The mistakes we make today are the regrets we live with tomorrow.

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