Why Feelings Aren’t a Waste of Time

Feelings do take up time in therapy. Some people are okay with this, but others feel as if feeling in therapy is a bit of a waste of time. They want to get to the answers and figure themselves out. They have a hard time seeing how crying about the upsetting memory they had before lunch can in anyway help them move forward.

Some people don’t want to smear their make-up. Some people are experts at tucking those pesky feelings right back where they belong—hidden deep inside, where they can continue to cause anxiety, chronic illness, poor behavior and bad decisions— if they aren’t seen, accepted and dealt with.

I’ll be honest—I’m not a big fan of feelings all the time either. They are so non-linear. They are so indirect, so out of control, and ugh—so vulnerable. And this is why it is so important to get to them in therapy. Because if you can get a little more comfortable with being vulnerable in therapy, you can get a little more comfortable with the part of you that is most YOU. And don’t you want that?

And no, just because your feelings feel out of control sometimes, doesn’t mean that that is YOU. Out of control emotions come from not knowing how to deal with emotions, not giving space to emotions, judging emotions, and not knowing how to be with ourselves, and our emotions. Emotions are meant to just arise, be felt, and move on through. If they don’t there is something there that is getting in the way, which needs to be identified and addressed.

Why NotTherapy

Why would you want to go tell a perfect stranger your problems? I have heard people say things like this when they are considering—or resisting therapy. What if the therapist isn’t helpful, or they have an unappealing personality? These are some really good excuses for not going to therapy, and can keep you from taking a step toward healing that you might wish you had taken, once you finally see through your excuses.

I hear the same types of things when someone is considering, or resisting getting into a relationship. “It will probably go wrong. What if they don’t like me. What if I don’t like them?” And other worse case scenarios.                 

Now why would a person avoid a therapist or a long term romantic relationship? The answer is fear. And why does fear work so well to keep us from the things that most benefit us? Because we don’t recognize it as fear. To us it sounds as if it the most rational, logical sort of thinking we have ever had. This is where a therapist comes in handy.

One thing humans do really well is lie to themselves, and one thing humans don’t do really well is see when they are doing this. Who is going to point this out to you? Your agreeable friends and family who just want to support you and encourage you? Maybe. But usually friends will err on the side of not confronting the things you have failed to confront yourself.

They want to keep you as a friend, and worry that telling you what they see might bring a conflict between you both. But also, friends and family are sometimes too close! In some ways they are an extension of you, and may join you in the lies you tell yourself. Not on purpose, but because those lies serve a purpose. They keep you safe. They keep you from change. They protect you from the scary unknown.

Not every therapist is for you. If you go to a therapist you don’t like you can stop going! You don’t have to tell your therapist things until you feel comfortable with them. You can wait until trust develops to go into your most vulnerable places.

A good therapist will respect your speed and let you set the pace the sessions— at least at first. They will wait until you trust them to push you where you need a push. And that, is what you pay them for.