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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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Stop Waiting for People to Understand

Sometimes people just aren’t going to get it. So stop waiting.

There’s going to be a part of your mental health journey where you’re a complete mess. That’s okay. It happens, and people don’t have to understand.

And it’s not always your job to explain yourself. Let’s go over a few reasons why.

You Need to Accept Your Mess

Not a “hot mess.” God, do we still say that? Well, stop. It’s not 2013 anymore. Anyway, stop resisting the fact that you’re in a rough spot. Don’t punish yourself for not having it 100% together at this precise moment.

If your house is a disaster, for instance, accept it. If your friends or loved ones are complaining about it, let them know you need more time to figure things out. Yes, you don’t want to wallow in filth forever. Don’t do that. However, don’t kill yourself trying to keep up appearances.

You Have Nothing to Prove

You set the standards. No one can pass judgment on your progress. And you want to know something? You’re not going to please everyone anyway.

You ultimately know your limits and what’s best for you. Your potential and capabilities are not a secret to yourself. You have so much to offer. Don’t overlook it. That means, at the end of the day, you know if you’re giving each day your best shot. That’s all that matters.

Your Worth Should Never Be Tied Into Other People

We want people to love and care for us. That means that we sometimes want their approval. However, we shouldn’t sacrifice our happiness just to appease them. That’s not self-love. It’s co-dependency.

I talk about being a recovering co-dependent in my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem. Give it a read and recommend it to anyone you know who struggles with low self-worth. People don’t have to understand our struggle. Just keep pushing forward.

And stop waiting.

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Taking Care of Yourself Also Means Educating Yourself

We need self-care tips more than ever now. It’s imperative that we discover ways to keep ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. But did you know taking care of yourself also involves education?

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe. Perhaps, you believe you’re done with “schooling.” You’re probably like me. You got your degree, realized it was useless, and burned yourself out on “learning.”

Well, don’t give up on education yet! It’s never too late to learn something new. Let’s run through a few ways to stimulate your mind.

Don’t Just Veg Out After Work Every Day

I’ve mentioned before that there’s a difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Watching TV after a long day at work is certainly relaxing. I definitely partake after my hectic work days.

Still, it’s important to practice moderation. A study conducted by Tohoku University found that watching excessive amounts of TV can lower your IQ. If you really think about it, that adds up. Even though I love it, what exactly is intellectually stimulating about most reality shows?

I’m not saying cut TV out of your life completely. For me, I need that period of time to just have something playing as I untangle my brain for a few minutes. Just don’t forget to find a way to stimulate your mind at least once a day.

Reading Helps Reduce Stress

Yes, you’re going to have to start reading if you don’t already. It’s an integral part of taking care of yourself.

According to research, reading helps alleviate stress more than other mediums. In fact, it can reduce stress by about 60% in just 6 minutes. It’s more beneficial than taking a walk, listening to music, or even playing video games.

Reading achieves this by lowering your heart rate, easing muscle tension, and altering your state of mind. We all love to escape into a new world when we read, right? Well, now you have even more reason to.

Learn Something New. Make New Mistakes

Say it with me. It’s okay to get it wrong at first. Learning is all about making mistakes, if we’re being honest.

Don’t be afraid to learn or try something new. Whether it’s a new skill or simply a new word, make every effort to expand you mind. Learn how to cook (or find a way to improve it). Expand your vocabulary by learning one new word a day. It’s really that easy.

You’ll be surprised how accomplished you feel no matter what the task is. I go into more detail in my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem. Be sure to check it out and recommend it to anyone you know.

And remember. It’s never too late to start educating yourself.