Yes, therapists get stuck.
I am sorry to burst anyone’s bubbles about therapists being perfect, knowing everything, always having it together, and not having problems. That is not true.
For about the past month, I felt emotionally stuck. I was still going to work, seeing clients, playing with my son, exercising, and talking with my spouse, but not as much as I would normally. My attitude was not as cheery as usual. My thoughts were focused on the past: How did I not follow through with a particular plan?
I was not feeling depressed, but my thoughts were stuck. I was tired. I was frustrated, and felt like I could not share with my friends or spouse my feelings regarding the situation. I was a little shameful and embarrassed, but I knew that being stuck was not a good option, either.
What did I do?
- I listened to my own advice. I did tell a friend. She understood and reminded me of my accomplishments, what I am still able to do, and reminded me that the past is behind me and cannot be changed.
- I decided to let it go. That is hard, and it’s a daily practice. Our thoughts can fluctuate at any time with any situation, and knowing that will help to identify when the hurtful thoughts return. I am working on telling myself, “That was then, this is now.” It helps. I can’t change the past—and if I could, it would most likely change the present, which would in turn change the future. There are things that I really enjoy in the present.
- I forgave myself—for not doing right, for not staying on plan, for allowing emotions to get away from me, to name a few. I reminded myself that I am going to make mistakes, and hopefully there will be wisdom that I gain so I will make fewer mistakes.
- I prayed to god. I sought his help. This is what I believe in, and if you believe differently, that’s OK. This is what helped me. I got back to reading the Bible. Being centered on my spiritual foundation helps me to be more at peace and recognize that I am not alone and that there is hope.
- I focused on solutions. Focusing on how to work through something is more productive than lingering on any mistakes that you may have made. Lingering on mistakes does not help a person feel better, but rather keeps us stuck. This also reinforces that communicating with my spouse is very important because we are a team.
- I reminded myself, again, that the past is the past.
- I was thankful that, in spite of past mistakes, I am OK. My family is and will still be blessed, and I continue to be able to work and enjoy life. I may need to make other decisions, but that is OK.
- I was mindful of today. Today is what we have. It’s my choice if I am going to spend my hours with regret and worry, or whether I will use the wisdom gained from past decisions.
- I believed in myself that I am capable of making better decisions and that things will turn out well.
- I took it day by day. I decided to move forward and realized that even if I am still worried, things do turn out well.
No one is above making mistakes; we all make them. To be an emotionally healthier person, we need to be aware of the past and see how the present can be a little different so that our future is even better. Rehashing the past does not change anything. It just makes things more frustrating, brings on depression, and keeps us stuck. In order to move ahead, we need to see the positives and ways to work through things. The 10 points above can help. You might come up with other ideas, and if those ideas are helpful to you, great!
I just wanted you to know that because I am a therapist doesn’t mean I always have it all together … but I do use the healthy coping tools that I suggest for my clients—and for you. They do help!
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Sanders, MFT, Child & Adolescent Issues Topic Expert Contributor
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