Understanding our Psychological Growing Pains
When we start psychotherapy, we often do it to know more about ourselves. Even though in some ways we might know ourselves quite well, we are drawn to therapy is the hope that we can know our hidden parts even better. However, knowing more about ourselves is not always a comfortable process. What can we do to prepare ourselves for these psychological growing pains?
Positive things about us
Firstly, although we have the expectation that the things we're going to learn about ourselves are neutral or negative, often the process of counselling shows us that there are positive things about ourselves that we don't know. When we find these things out, we can be pleased and sometimes a little surprised that we had these particular positive qualities within us.
We might not know that we are thoughtful, generous or compassionate. Wed might not know the extent to which we experience hope, optimism and positivity.
We might not know that we love as widely and fully as we do.
Negative things about us
Secondly, we do often learn things about ourselves which are not positive. The truth about ourselves can come roaring in, and it hurts. This can often be something we might be afraid of learning, but in my experience, the things we learn about ourselves in therapy and counselling are things we generally suspected about ourselves anyway.
Learning these things as we live our life can be very painful; learning them in therapy helps us process them in a supportive place. Knowing ourselves this way also lets us try to do something about these negative qualities.
Psychological Growing Pains
When we discover new things about ourselves – either positive or negative – it can often feel a little bit uncomfortable. The person we knew ourselves to be is now expanded, and we have to do some mental adjustment to accommodate this new expanded view of ourselves. This is what we mean by psychological growing pains.
In these times, we're probably best served by looking after ourselves a little bit more than we might otherwise do. Seek out understanding rather than advice.
Before too long, this adjustment to the new, expanded self becomes a lot more familiar and we start to integrate that.
Truth is better than ignorance
It's true that we can sometimes regret knowing more about ourselves. However, a consolation for this is that truth, no matter how difficult, is better than ignorance especially when it comes to ourselves.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about whether traumatic change ever does us any good.
– Tim Hill