Updated: Sep 5
A while back I was on the phone to a colleague, and he mentioned that he wouldn't be available the day after, as he was taking the day off. Living in London, the next question was clearly polite small talk (which of course is not always appropriate and should be asked with caution), i.e. "Oh amazing! Are you doing anything nice?".
Now I either made this colleague feel on the spot and that he had to tell me, or he felt comfortable enough to share, or he just didn't feel like it was a big deal to share, but he ended up telling me that the reason he was taking the day off, was to go and play golf with his brother, as his brother was going through a divorce. This was then followed by the comment "thankfully they don't have kids!"
Therapy is medicine for the soul
I immediately did a test I tend to do with many men.... I said "Oh, has he considered therapy?", and although my colleague didn't seem opposed to the suggestion, he said he would suggest it, but didn't think his brother would be interested, as he doesn't believe in therapy. If I was given a penny for every time I heard someone say (and unfortunately usually men), "I don't believe in therapy" or "I'm not crazy, why would I need therapy", I would have been one very very very wealth woman. I could never understand why there is such a misconception, but know that people are suffering as a result of this belief, stigma and taboo.
I then went on to say something along the lines of, "well I hope he considers it. I truly believe it will help him switch his perception, as unfortunately otherwise future relationships will most probably be a repetition of the past ones if he doesn't heal!" And then continued on to say "If only people knew the good that could come in the future, they would be throwing more divorce parties than wedding parties!." Now before you get annoyed with that statement, please bear with me, so I can make my point. Clearly I don't think that divorce is a happy event to celebrate. What I do think though is that in the era we were raised (I will elaborate further down), many of us do not choose emotionally secure partners, but instead ones who trigger us. So if that's the case, when your marriage does end, if you take the right steps to heal - with therapy being one of those steps - then it can be the best f**king thing that ever happened to you!
I then continued the discussion and to be completely honest, at the beginning had no clue what I was saying.... but it all made sense as I heard myself saying it, so I will write it here on this post in case it makes sense to you too. But before I do, I need to ask; do you too catch yourself talking about something and feel like you have no idea who is talking, only to discover you make absolute sense of what you hear coming out of your mouth? It is like someone else in that moment takes over and just does the talking for you! I have noticed that the more I meditate the more this happens to me. Does this happen to you too? I have tried to explain this and when I do, my rationale self tells me its actually me talking, but I am focused due to my meditation practice and am able to pull information faster than my conscious brain can comprehend. While, my spiritual self tells me its my spiritual guides channelling through me! I'm not sure which of the two it is; maybe a combination of both (maybe neither), but I am happy and content with either (both or neither) explanation to be honest! Please comment below on the post or send me a message on the instagram page @my.magicdiary to let me know.
So this is what I 'heard' myself saying to my colleague:
The majority of us have grown up in an era of emotionally immature parents. Parents who did not know how to be parents. Parents who did not have access to information to answer any questions or bounce ideas off others. They were expected to just know what to do, as if the moment you give birth, you magically get a degree in parenting. Parents, who grew up conditioned in a certain way, had to conform to societies stereotypes, parents who were probably forced into their marriage (like mine were) and too young to become parents. And in some cases parents that didn't even want to become parents! Parents that didn't know how to approach a child, offer comfort to them, ensure the child was heard and validated.
Due to this, the majority of us were ignored, invalidated, gaslit and conditioned to constantly doubt ourselves and our choices. We were there to be seen but not heard, to obey the rules and to not have any passions unless we were instructed to have them, i.e. live the dream and learn the hobbies our parents wanted but never got to experience.
We had to obey to the religion our parents chose for us, not the one we chose for ourselves and had to bow our head and just follow. I was born into a family of refugees, with the war taking place just 6 years before I came into this world, so for my family, bowing your head and just getting on with things with minimal risks was something we had to live by.
Ohhhhh the trauma! The trauma we all grew up with is just beyond me. The insecurities, the self disgust, the oppression. And to top that all up, the only thing school taught us, was that our intelligence was measured on how much information we could remember - the majority of which was not going to prepare us for how to navigate through this life with any of the very real problems it comes with. And thus we all grew up with a very wounded inner child (hopefully that phrase won't be new for you....a topic for another post). We grew up not knowing ourselves, not knowing what we truly wanted, or needed. We grew up invalidating our experiences and being invalidated by others. How many times have you been told or asked: "Oh you misunderstood me, that's not what happened", "Are you sure that is what happened? Maybe you are just being paranoid". In addition, I think nearly our entire generation grew up not understanding the concept of boundaries. No was never an acceptable response. We also got stuck into the trap of constantly trying to fit into the stereotypical norms of our era, which honestly I have absolutely no idea who the f*ck people had in mind when these stereotypes were formed (however THAT is for another blog post!), creating this unattainable image that none of us could reach and our happiness depended on. We grew up not knowing what we wanted, getting into jobs we didn't even like and having to network with people we would never interact with given the choice. And this just deepened the trauma even more.
And when it came to relationships.... well we had no value of ourself in order to be able to value the other person opposite us. The majority of us didn't learn to love and appreciate ourselves and ended up with extremely unhealthy attachment styles! So if we are not healthy and secure in ourselves, how can we be secure in our relationships? How can we communicate our needs, understand the other persons needs and see if we are indeed compatible? And don't get me started on the Hollywood norm of love (again unattainable and so unrealistic). Women being conditioned into believing that a man would come to save us (from what is something I still have not figured out....), pop the question, we would go from Miss to Mrs (cringe) and we were then a complete woman. As that is the only life purpose after all!!! And you know the continuation of this story.....
"If the challenge exists, so must the solution"
But we are not here to complain about the why we got to where we are, but propose a way to put things into perspective, unlearn what does not work for us and learn things that our parents and society were not qualified to teach us and manage to find some peace within and enjoy this little time we have on this planet.
How can we achieve that? Well one great and effective method is THERAPY!
I don't think I have heard anyone who has gone through therapy regret it. Of course here, I am talking about therapy where there is trust and respect between the parties involved and no manipulation involved. Therapy can teach you so many things about yourself, what makes you tick and why, your coping mechanisms, things you blocked out because they were too hard to understand or accept. I for example have very limited memories from the age of 11-18, but I am on a journey of discovering why.
Therapy is a very personal exchange and it is important to find a therapist that you can connect with. For me it was important to find a therapist who understood me, one who could call me out on my bullshit (of course in a kind way), but also show empathy. Someone to help me dig into the crap I have had to deal with, unravel it, help me put my ducks in order and re-frame my perspective. Someone to help me unpack any anger I had been carrying with me for years, someone to help me see that I don't always have to be the victim, and live in drama in order to be seen and feel important. Someone to help me understand boundaries, how to set healthy ones and how to recognise red flags. Inevitably, someone to help me rewire my brain, unlearn what I don't need and learn what I do, to see things from a different perspective, see my options and understand which ones are healthy.
Now, im not a specialist, nor can I tell you what works for you. But here are a few things that I took into account when embarking on this journey. Let's call it the My Magic Diary therapy checklist (!).
"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; but when you listen you may learn something new" - Dalai Lama
My Magic Diary Therapy Checklist:
Bin the stigma
There is no point in going through therapy if you continue to believe that it won't help you, or there is nothing new for you to learn. If you go into it with this mindset, there is probably nothing for you to gain from it.
There is a quote by Dalai Lama I love which says "when you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; but when you listen you may learn something new". Whether we like it or not, we do not know everything and will never be able to learn everything in a lifetime. Learning is a constant work in progress. So, there is no point in going through therapy if you are not willing to listen to a different perspective.
Meet the therapist before committing to any sessions, as this relationship is one of the most important relationships you will have (might even be the second most important relationship in your life - the first being the relationship you have with yourself). So take time to see if you can connect and feel comfortable telling this person anything and everything. Can you express yourself in a way that is understood? For me, it was important that I was able to express myself in the languages I grew up with (I was raised bilingual - English and Greek, and actually to be more specific speaking the Cypriot dialect of Greek). So I found a therapist that spoke fluent English and the Cypriot dialect. I must admit, I followed my therapist on social media for some time before reaching out. (Therapist stalker! lol).
Start reading/listening to relevant books, listening to relevant podcasts or watching relevant YouTube videos. This will help you tap into people with similar experiences and help you understand things better. This opened a whole new world for me. My favourite books so far are:
My favourite podcasts are:
While my favourite YouTube channel is The Crappy Childhood Fairy.
Follow inspiring people or specialists on social media. This can be therapists of just people that will give you an uplift and remind you that you are not alone on this journey. My favourite people to follow on instagram are:
Once you put all of the above into practice, I think one last step is to stop using your friends for therapy! We have the tendency to use our friends as a mechanism to rant and off load, and most of the time they don't even have the emotional capacity to listen! And we dont even ask them. I catch myself lately ASKING my friends if I can share a problem and also say upfront whether or not I want/need advice. This helps to understand if they can and want to listen and also setting the scene on the expectations you have. If possible it is best to remove the rant from the time you spend with friends, and instead take notes and discuss with your therapist at your next session. I have noticed that my relationships with my friends became more meaningful when I did this as it is less ranting and more connecting.
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