Views and opinions about therapy are polluted by the media, and social ideas regarding what’s normal and acceptable. Many people interpret therapy as a go-to for those who have a detected mental illness or have experienced some life shattering, traumatic event. The common misconception is that people should be able to solve their issues on their own, and if they seek assistance– they’re “crazy”.
Society leads us to believe that if we gain support from loved ones, join a gym, or memorize positive quotes, that our moods, behaviors and stress levels will be managed accordingly. This is not 100% true!
While these routines contribute to a healthy lifestyle; many people tend to increase their susceptibility to poor mind health when these seemingly easy habits don’t function as a quick fix to their stress and anxiety.
Those who suffer with issues like bipolar disorder, the loss of a loved one, divorce, and post-traumatic stress disorder, are not the only populations that benefit from therapeutic treatment. There are widespread and unhealthy behavioral/cognitive habits that we may all exhibit, that affect our mental health at some time or another.
The list below describe a few unhealthy and common practices that can be modified with skills learned in therapy.
1. All-or-nothing thinking. When something occurs you have a hard time thinking in facts versus in extremes. You may only see the disadvantages of situations, and find it hard to maintain optimism. For example, an all-or-nothing thinker gets laid off and immediately thinks “I’m a failure at life.” This type of thinking leads to heightened stress and unhappiness.
2. Taking things personal, and becoming consumed by what other’s think of you. You are quick to take offense. You often believe that the words, actions and behaviors of others are because of you or directed to you in some way. This hypersensitivity and internal struggle with self-image, may leave you constantly seeking validation and acceptance from others. Therapy helps us recognize errors in our thoughts, and teaches us how to build self-confidence.
3. Holding yourself accountable for other people’s issues. Yes, it’s great that you are helpful! However, the help you offer to people should come with limits, and not mental exhaustion. Paying all the bills because your partner doesn’t feel like working is not providing constructive help. Being supportive to others differs from being responsible for others. Therapy can help you identify this unhealthy behavior, as well as its source.
4. Feeling a loss of control when you are stressed. Stress is normal. However, feeling trapped in your stress signals that you can afford to learn healthy coping and responsive skills. Coping with stress in unhealthy ways increases your vulnerability to depressive symptoms.
5. Avoiding conflict. Your boss disrespects and humiliates you, and instead of expressing your disapproval, you keep quiet and evade the issue. Therapy can teach you assertion skills that enable you to handle conflict and defend yourself in healthy, respectful ways. This will not only help boost your self-esteem – it will also help you establish boundaries, and convey the type of treatment that you are willing to accept.
Remember that you are human! Addressing these behaviors through expression and work with a skilled mental health professional, can lessen your load and prevent it from progressing into more serious concerns. Proactive mind care is preventative mind care.
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.