By Erica Basso
At a young age I knew I wanted to help people live better and happier lives. The experiences of my life have led me to believe we all have the natural capacity to grow and flourish in a positive direction if we have the support we need. I often work with individuals and couples, many of whom are professionals and creative types who feel disconnected, frustrated or lonely. I’ve always been fascinated with how people have developed into who they are today, their stories, hopes and dreams, and how they choose to use their unique gifts.
It’s both an honor and privilege to witness individuals as they overcome roadblocks and generations of passed down shame and fears. I understand the reluctance people have in seeking therapy and I want to stress how beneficial taking that leap of faith can be. Feeling hesitant is normal and stems from the way much of society devalues mental health. Asking for help can also be incredibly tough and outside one’s comfort zone.
First, I’d like to validate a person’s apprehension with coming into therapy. We are socialized to “go, go, go” and for most of us, just simply slowing down and allowing ourselves to be seen and heard is foreign in our every day lives. It also doesn’t help that many of us were taught, growing up, that vulnerability is a weakness. For many of us, we learned early on to suppress certain emotions, or that it was only safe to express certain emotions. For a lot of households, anger is considered a ‘safe’ and relatively easy emotion to express. Whereas, more vulnerable emotions, like loneliness and fear are not safe. When individuals come to me, they have typically gone a long time without getting their primal needs met. They believe that their needs won’t be met if they do express them, or they just don’t have the skills to effectively ask for what they need.
Brene Brown emphasizes that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage. She says,
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”
The acknowledgment of both of these ideas has been extremely helpful for my clients. I have found that for some, it is helpful to give them permission to slow down, to be seen, and more importantly, to be able to see themselves accurately. It is also notable that any meaningful change can initiate some level of fear and worry. Remember, if you’re feeling outside of your comfort zone, it is likely that growth is on the horizon! Part of my job is to change the perspective that vulnerability is negative. As uncomfortable as it may be in the moment, those emotions are a good thing, and you are capable of managing them. Therapy is truly one of the best gifts we can give ourselves; you deserve to begin the journey toward creating a life you love.