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What can go wrong with therapy - #1 It piggybacks on our need to "do more" and "be perfect"

I love therapy, as a client and as a therapist.

It's also my bread and butter.

And I have such a critical eye.

Here's a big beef.

Therapy may simply piggyback on our belief that we need to overachieve and be perfect in order to be in relationship.

There's a reasonable chance that many of us going to therapy have learned somewhere along the way that relational survival means overachieving and "being better." We have learned to work hard, care-take, and be "on" when it comes to relationships (romantic and otherwise).

This will show up in a million subtle ways:

  • the tone of our voice and the "on-ness" of our facial muscles

  • the way we watch and monitor our words to the point of having a hard time saying anything

  • spending a great deal of energy analyzing and attending to the relationship and the meaning of text messages

  • our downloaded podcasts and audiobooks

  • the state of our digestive tracks

  • explaining or excusing your partner's/friend's actions by constantly acknowledging the hard life they've had

One way you could test out whether this is you or not is to perhaps close your eyes and imagine that your partner, the Dalai Lama, your favourite grade 2 teacher, or a good friend is sitting beside you to support you. You are not going to DO anything for them. Sit there quietly imagining this, and feel how your body responds. Maybe they put their hand on your shoulder. Maybe they say a gentle simple sentence. This is all they do. And all you do is notice what it feels like in your body to receive support or attention.

Even just the thought of this may bring up physical feelings.

Don't dive deep into this place if it feels too big. It is, actually, really big. The reality is that you might need someone to support you in experiencing it, and it might take awhile.

If this feels unfamiliar and brings up sensations in the internal landscape, it might be something to get curious about.

This is often the felt sense we're working with in a relational pattern of believing we need to DO in order to be LOVED.

If this is our pattern one of the BIG ways we care-take those we are in relationship with is by constantly trying to improve ourselves and be good enough rather than ask for what we need, leave, or rest in relationship. We take it all on and try our best to not inconvenience the other person with who we actually are.

In doing so we lean out of ourselves.

We step out of the relational wrestling ring.

Ultimately WE don't show up in relationship even though it FEELS like we're showing up at 200% based on the work we do.

Then we get into a therapy session and try to figure out why we're not feeling ok in our internal landscapes.

What can happen is that we try our best to productively and efficiently work hard in that hour to figure out how we can "be better" in order to be "worthy of love," and, there we are again, in our pattern.

Of course this doesn't happen with all therapists, but it can be sneaky. I can get tricked occasionally.

We end up DOING more of the same and miss the fact that there is an internal somatic shift that needs to happen towards rest in relationship. Here's where it gets tricky. We might even TALK about resting or doing less but our BODY doesn't know what that feels like or how to get there when with other people. Remember the visualization above?

How do we simply be with one another, quietly and at rest, and learn that this is perfectly ok; that we are enough and worthy of company.

I get that it's hard to pay $100+ and feel that resting with your therapist is justified. But, if actually felt and experienced, it can be incredibly powerful.

What if you didn't have to DO so much to BE in relationship?


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