By Ali Vogt, MFT –
Alone with our thoughts.
We spend most of our lives alone. In our own heads. Thinking.
Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.
Sometimes those thoughts are kind, but in this capitalistic culture I find that most people’s thoughts tend to be about what they need to do, figure out, buy or become in order to “be done.” And as we all know, none of us are ever “done.” No one is a finished product.
It helps to have friends, a romantic partner, a meditation practice or a therapist to share our thoughts, frustrations, illnesses and wins with, but in the end we are alone. No one can be in “there” with us.
“But I go to therapy,” you think to yourself. “Should I see my therapist a few times per week?” Thankfully, utilizing psychotherapy a few times per week can help with that aloneness.
Alone with our emotional experience
“Why or how does that work?” you ask. Well, as children our parents often fail in reflecting our emotional experience back to us – and that makes us feel alone. Over time and based upon how skilled a parent is at mirroring, children often end up feeling very alone. This leads to grown children believing that that no matter how well someone is listening in the moment, no one is actually “with” them. This belief becomes part of the fabric of our identity. We see aloneness at every juncture and with every person. The early experience of being correctly mirrored by a parent is that important – it can chart the course of our internal beliefs for the rest of our lives. We end up believing that because our parents didn’t get us, no one really does.
Internalizing a kinder voice
But seeing your therapist a few times per week can correct this. When one is in therapy, one of the goals is that someone else’s voice – hopefully a kinder voice – becomes internalized. If we hear the same voice repeatedly, over time we start to hear that voice in our head. This internalized voice gets stronger and enters into our internal dialogue. That voice then makes us feel like we are actually “with” ourselves.
Therapy a few times per week can also help lessen the impact of our inner critic. The more we hear an alternative perspective, the more our inner world will accept it as its own. For example, if you are someone who tends to criticize yourself, then you might wind up saying to yourself, “God, I can’t do anything right!” If you were to say that out loud in your therapy session, your therapist might say, “That critical voice can’t help but chime in.” Your therapist is noticing, without judgment, how your critical voice makes itself known. This occurrence and response need to happen again and again and again. In time you will start to catch yourself when you are being critical and answer it with a more compassionate voice.
“But isn’t that too expensive?” you ask. If this seems interesting to you, talk with your therapist about increasing your number of visits each week. Some therapists are willing to slide their fee for clients who want to come more than once per week.
“How will I find the time?” you ask. It just becomes part of your schedule – you go to work, you go to therapy, you go to the gym.the regime of your life starts to include one more thing.
Therapy twice (or more) times per week also makes the therapy process go a bit faster, which is good, as therapy can be quite slow in its progress. I that wish it would move more quickly, but we are complicated beings, and this is the one way that I know to create change in a person’s fabric.