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What to Expect from Your First Therapy Session

Any therapy session can seem daunting. Opening up to a stranger feels like a monumental task, or even downright impossible. So, having a few misgivings about the first session is normal.

Still, your first therapy session doesn’t have to be frightening. In fact, with a little prep work, you can expect a positive experience. Let’s go over what to expect and how you can ready yourself beforehand.

How to Prepare

How do you prepare for a therapy session? The answer varies for everyone. We all have have different needs and expectations.

It helps to start by identifying your emotions. What are you feeling right now? Do you have any concerns about therapy? What do you feel consistently troubles you?

You don’t have to just focus on what’s “wrong.” Think about a goal you want to accomplish after you start therapy. Where do you want to be after, say, 5 sessions?

Keep a running list and read that list out loud to yourself. Tuck it away somewhere safe for you to reference later. You’ll be needing it.

Honesty & Establishing Needs

Here’s the thing. Therapy doesn’t work without honesty. And therapy is something that you’re going to have to work at. Many people hold onto the misconception that simply attending sessions leads to improvement.

I wish I could say it was that simple. Unfortunately, it’s not. There may be times where you have to dig up some uncomfortable stuff. And it will feel EXHAUSTING. That’s part of the process.

That’s why it’s important to communicate and establish boundaries with your therapist. Express what your triggers are as soon as possible. Your therapist will work to ensure you feel comfortable enough to open up to them.

What Questions Should I Ask?

It’s expected you’ll be curious as well as cautious. In fact, any therapist worth their salt expects plenty of questions and concerns.

You may hear words or phrases you don’t quite understand. Ask for clarity and don’t be afraid to speak up. Your therapist wants to help you. You shouldn’t feel intimidated or ignored.

Refer to the list I mentioned earlier and bring it with you if you’re worried you’ll forget any concerns you might have.

What Happens After Your Therapy Session?

Hard part’s over right? You made it through your first session! So, now what?

Now, it’s time to do a mental and emotional check-in. What are you feeling? HOW are you feeling? Identify your thoughts and emotions as clearly as possible.

Consider also how you felt about your therapist. Did you feel a connection? Do you feel like they were listening to your concerns? Not every therapist will be a good match, and that’s okay. You may end up trying out several before you find someone you feel comfortable with.

Develop a Strong Foundation

Many instances of depression or anxiety can be traced back to low self-worth. A positive outlook on life can be achieved through improving self-esteem. My book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, shows how that can be accomplished.

Remember. Therapy isn’t a quick-fix, and it doesn’t have to be terrifying. With preparation and patience, you’ll succeed.

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Being Lonely Shouldn’t be Terrifying

Lonely. It’s a word few of us say out loud.

We know someone who seems lonely, and sometimes we perceive them to be miserable. After all, we’re conditioned to believe “miserable” and “loneliness” go hand-in-hand.

So, we don’t talk about how lonely we are. Instead, we push that feeling away when it materializes. We don’t want to be miserable or be perceived as such.

However, we don’t have to fear being alone. It’s possible to work through those feelings of loneliness while eventually establishing new bonds and relationships. Let’s go over a few ways to accomplish this.

People Want to Hear From You. Reach Out

As I mentioned before, shame often accompanies loneliness. We feel like we have it stamped on our forehead, so we avoid others. We retreat into our safe places, running from the idea of someone else knowing.

The truth? It’s not as bad as we think, even if someone else knows we’re lonely. In fact, it’s an opportunity to show that it’s not a big deal.

We hesitate at times to reach out because we think “If they’re not reaching out, they must not want to hear from me.” Honey, if they’re your friends/family, of course they want to hear from you. Reach out!

Break the Negative Thought Cycle

Be kind to yourself. And honest.

Sometimes, we’re going to get it wrong when it comes to emotions. We all do it. It’s normal, and it inspires growth. That’s why it’s so important to be able to identify what we’re feeling and respond appropriately. We’re able to break those negative thought patterns this way.

Sometimes, we create these self-centered views based on our negative emotions. We assume people don’t like us, which is why we’re lonely. However, if we’re honest about our situation, that’s usually not the case.

We have friends and family who love and support us. We’re just focused on the emotion that’s most intimidating. Happiness doesn’t scare us as much as loneliness does.

When we’re overcome by loneliness, it’s important to stop and identify it.

Join a Community. Help a Cause

Perhaps now you’re ready to do something about feeling lonely. So, where do you start?

Many people find benefit in volunteering or joining cause. It’s a chance for individuals to meet new people with shared interests. If you’re new to an area, for instance, it’s a great way to not only help your community but get to know it as well.

It’s also a great time to practice those social skills! Not everyone thrives on social energy, and that’s fine. Some people are more introverted than others. Some are shy and need a little time to warm up to new faces. With time and the momentum gained from interacting with like-minded individuals, it’s much easier to establish bonds and friendships.

Beyond that, volunteering combats the effects of stress, depression, anxiety, and much more. What you put into your community ends up coming back to you. That’s something to reflect on!

Remember Your Sense of Self

It all starts with knowing who you are. In my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, I touch on practices to establish a positive self-identity. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

And remember. Loneliness is nothing to fear.

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When Cutting People Off Becomes Toxic

So, I went into detail about why I let people go. For most, the act of cutting people off emerges from a place of self-care. We realize we are being mistreated, and we seek to remedy the problem.

However, just like with anything, there’s a wrong way to go about it. Instead of cutting ties with toxic people, YOU become the toxic person needlessly burning bridges.

Let’s walk through a few ways this can happen.

When You’re Not Honest With Yourself

Be honest. Did your boyfriend really treat you as badly as you claim he did, or were you exaggerating a little? Did you eject that long-time friend from your life because they did something wrong? Or was it because you didn’t properly communicate your expectations?

Something I’ve been guilty of is expecting people to know what I want from them. I’d get frustrated because I’d think “Why is it so hard for them? I don’t expect much anyway!”

So, when they’d make a misstep like forgetting my birthday, blowing me off to hang with other people, etc, I’d just nix the friendship without communicating with them. Then, they’d be confused and hurt, and we’d both end up with unresolved issues. Nothing would get solved.

Turns out people can’t read your minds, and you can’t read theirs. They also can’t be held accountable for things you never properly address.

When You Simply Isolate From Everyone

Sometimes we think we’re punishing others by removing ourselves from their lives. We think to ourselves “This’ll show them!” as we deactivate all of our social media accounts and refuse to answer anyone’s texts.

Then, inevitably, we realize this solves little and wind up returning to our circle with our tail between our legs. We don’t punish anyone but ourselves.

Isolating from others does more harm than good in nearly any situation to begin with. If you feel neglected by others, it’s better to communicate with them as to why.

When You Recruit People to be Spiteful

You’ve decided to bestow your boyfriend with the ex qualifier now. You’re officially done with him for life, but that’s not enough! Now you have to get your friends, family, and pets to disown him as well.

You decide your best friend has disrespected you one-too-many times, so you break free. Except now you want the rest of the circle to leave them out as well. So, all of you regularly go out without including them.

Now imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you like it if an entire group suddenly shunned you and left you out? And we’re talking about for minor offenses like forgetting birthdays, not cheating or trash talking. Does it really warrant all that?

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have boundaries. It’s okay to express to people that you need your space. What’s not okay is banding a troop together to slander and tarnish someone because of a bad breakup, relationship or otherwise.

It Starts With a Sense of Self

Cutting people off shouldn’t always be the answer.

The above scenarios happen usually because we need to work on our communication skills. We struggle to express our feelings sometimes because we feel we can’t stand up for ourselves.

This often stems from low self-worth or self-esteem in the individual. That sounds a little drastic, right? Except, it’s not! Improving your self-worth is relatively easy and something I recommend to most people who struggle with communication. Check out my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, for more details.

And remember. Cut people out when it’s appropriate, not because you’re afraid to express yourself.

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Okay, I Admit I Am Sad. Now What?

I am sad. I admit it. So, now what do I do? Where do I go from here? Is this just sadness, or is it something more?

We all get down from time to time. Life comes at you fast. So, what are some things we can do to “nip it in the bud” so to speak?

And what if we feel like it’s more than just sadness? Let’s cover a few ways we can work out our emotions and plan for success.

How Can I Tell the Difference Between Depression and Sadness?

Sadness is an emotion everyone experiences periodically. It can be brought on by a life change such as a death in the family or a job loss. There’s a specific trigger behind it.

Many benefit from just “letting it all out” with actions such as crying, venting, or recreational activities. These actions serve to alleviate the mental and emotional pain we’re experiencing due to sadness. Of course, it’s important to remember what counts as healthy self-care and what doesn’t.

It’s also short-term and passes with time. However, if feelings of sadness last beyond a 2-week period, it could be a sign of depression.

You can find resources for depression and other mental health needs here.

What Can I Do If It’s Just Sadness?

  • When I am sad, I normally turn to cleaning. Clean something you’ve been needing to spruce up for a while. There’s a soothing sense of satisfaction that comes with the act. For me, a messy head equals a messy mind. So, I strive to tidy up when I can.
  • Exercise and do a workout you’ve been wanting to experiment with. Go to the gym! I’m a huge procrastinator, and I have to work myself up just to put my workout clothes on. Still, even the act of walking into the building can put you at ease and motivate you.
  • Help someone else out with something. There’s always someone in need. Whether it’s errands or a quick favor, help people. Think about how you feel when someone makes your day. Now put that energy out there!
  • Write your feelings out. I’m not saying write an entire novel. That’s a very demanding process. Find something that works for you. You can diary, blog, or just jot some thoughts down here and there. When I am sad, poetry helps me turn my thoughts into art. I always feel accomplished and creative once I’ve completed a poem.
  • Ask for Help. Don’t feel like you need to go through this alone. Besides, you never know who’s gone through the same thing and can empathize. Sometimes, just knowing someone else understands is all that we need.

What if it Happens Again?

The first thing I want you to do is not be hard on yourself for being human. Sadness is a natural state that we all experience. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of it.

Allow it.

Then, I want you to remember the points we discussed earlier to help alleviate some of those feelings. When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready, right?

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, here’s a link with a pretty extensive list of resources for you. I also wrote a book about overcoming low self-esteem, which I highly recommend.

Don’t be afraid to be sad.

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11 Effective Ways to Conquer Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is a lifelong struggle for most of us. As someone who has had a longstanding battle with a negative self image, I get it. There are days when I just don’t feel pretty no matter what I do.

And believe me I put in the effort. I get up in the morning and do my best like many people do. I get enough sleep. I eat breakfast. I work out (sometimes). I put hundreds of sticky notes on my mirror telling me how awesome I am. I even try to read each one every single day.

Yet, try as I might, it never feels like it’s enough some days.

So the question remains. Is there such a thing as “life after low self-esteem?”

The short answer is: absolutely. However, it’s not going to be an easy journey. Luckily for you, there’s a few tips below to help you get started.

Stop the Comparisons

Your value as a person isn’t measurable. In fact, it’s immeasurable. That means it’s time to stop with the comparisons. Someone has a nicer car? House? Job? So what? Material things can be gone in an instant. At the end of the day, all you have is yourself. You and your unique life are more valuable than any material possession.

Avoid Social Media

Look, social media is designed to make you feel inadequate. You log on every day just to figure out a way to get “likes” or whatever popularity currency is being used at the time. How many likes you have seemingly determines how funny, smart, or likable you are. But here’s the thing. Such a system doesn’t exist in the real world. So leave it on social media where it belongs and avoid it.

Don’t Assume People Will Hate You

How many of you have struggled with this? You avoid socializing because you assume you’ll be hated the moment people look at you. Seems a little unfair though, right? Think of it this way. What kind of person would go out of their way to hate someone they don’t even know? It definitely sounds like a personal problem, doesn’t it? It just isn’t yours. Not everyone will have a problem with you. Give people the same chance you’d want them to give you.

Social Skills Are Just That: A Skill

There tends to be a stigma towards socially awkward people. People even go so far as to treat it like some sort of disease. Luckily for you, it’s not. In fact, with practice, anyone can overcome it. I know most of you hate the dreaded act of small talk. However, it’s a useful skill to develop when interacting with new people. Over time, it’ll become so second nature you won’t even realize you’re doing it.

Embarrassment is a Choice

I don’t care how poised of a person you are. We all goof up sometimes. Whether it’s tripping and falling in public or having a booger in your nose, life happens. However, you can choose what you’re embarrassed about. Everyone trips, and everyone at some point doesn’t realize they have a gigantic booger in their nose. So really, what’s the big deal? Blow your nose, pick yourself up off the ground, and keep it pushing. Learn to laugh at yourself, too.

What You Think Isn’t Always Reality

You walked into a store and felt like everyone was staring at you. Their eyes burned into your skin, and it seemed like they were judging you and deeming you unworthy. You ran out of the store and vowed to never return. Remember what I said earlier? People who decide to dislike you at first sight have problems of their own. Let them deal with that and remember this. It is not the event that destroys us. It is our interpretation. Those people simply could have been looking to see who was entering out of curiosity and nothing more. By the time you walk past them, they most likely won’t remember or think anything else of your presence.

Counseling Isn’t an Admission of Failure

Low self-esteem can often lead to bouts of depression. Seeking help doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a person or that something is wrong with you. Just as we all get sick physically, we also get sick mentally. Just like some treatments require physical therapy to regain strength, the brain also needs counseling. Catching a cold doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a person, right? The same is true of any mental illness.

Passive-Aggressiveness Solves Little

Part of overcoming low self-esteem is learning how to communicate your feelings. Often, people with a negative self-image can resort to passive-aggressive behavior instead of being assertive. Have you ever given someone the silent treatment when they’ve made you upset? Did giving them the silent treatment really solve anything or simply delay the inevitable conversation where you revealed what you were upset about? By being assertive and calmly expressing your frustration at the beginning, the issue could have been quickly neutralized. Passive-aggressiveness doesn’t give you peace of mind. It simply drags on issues for much longer than necessary.

It’s Time to Set Boundaries

It’s time to stop being a “people pleaser.” If something makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to say so. Each one of us has limits, both physically and mentally. Setting boundaries is one of the several pillars that hold up your overall well-being. Because, how can you be fair to anyone else if you’re not fair to yourself?

Letting Go is a Skill Too

Often we can get attached to the wrong thing. We can get involved in abusive relationships or one-sided friendships. We find it hard to let go of these relationships because, subconsciously, we feel we deserve to be in them. It can take time to develop a mindset where we truly recognize these relationships as what they are: toxic. Again, this isn’t something that’s learned overnight. It takes time and effort just like everything else on this list.

You’ve Already Accomplished Enough

Recently, I spoke to my classmates from high school. Many of them expressed how they felt like they hadn’t done enough or weren’t “successful enough.” I reassured them that as long as they were living and breathing that they were accomplishing more than what anyone could ask of them. No matter where you are in life, your very existence is an automatic success story. You are enough, were always enough, and always will be enough.

 

I hope this list helped you. As someone who used to struggle deeply with self-image, it took a long time to develop the self-awareness needed to fight back against my depression and low self-esteem. And I don’t always get it right each time.

Listen, you’re still going to have your days where you feel like utter crap. But guess what? Everybody feels that way from time to time. Yes, you are a unique, special person. But you’re also not alone in your fight. So join me and everyone like us as we beat low self-esteem into submission.