Trust Your Process
By: Patricia McGuire, MA, LPC
Many of us come to therapy looking for answers, insight, and relief. We may feel hopeless or stuck. Often, we want to find a way out of our painful experiences. We want to work around or avoid the difficulty of our overwhelming thoughts and emotions. The pain feels too great and we may feel alone or hopeless. However, it’s by going through the difficult parts of our experience that we can find healing.
Life stressors, big and small, impact us and can overwhelm our ability to cope in the moment. There are many ways we respond to disruptions and suffering in our lives. We are resourceful, often developing new ways to cope and forming different narratives for ourselves and those around us. This resourcefulness helps us manage stress or trauma yet may not be supportive once we are on the other side of the stressful experience or through changing life seasons.
Experiencing stress and suffering can also bring light to existential questions most of us try to avoid. Questions about the meaning of life, death, identity, and purpose. We can create barriers and distance from others and even from ourselves; feeling numb, easily distractible, or constantly in autopilot. We often lose the ability to be vulnerable with others. It may have been easy or safe to disconnect during times of stress; however, connecting with others again and being vulnerable in a safe space allows us to develop new narratives and heal. Within safe relationships, such as the therapist-client relationship, we can explore the nuances of our experience—both good and bad—and gain new insights.
The process of therapy is dynamic. We may work through the same parts of ourselves over and over again. We often discover new parts of our experience or understand ourselves in a new way. Within the therapeutic relationship, we find challenges, relief, and clarity. Our process allows us to feel vulnerable in a safe space and dig deeper. One thing is certain when we enter into the therapeutic relationship: we are not alone.
There is no formula for transformation. Most healing and long-lasting change does not move in a linear pattern--there may be spirals of ups and downs. There is more open to each us than just “getting by.” We are invited to be active, thriving participants in our own lives. Trust your process. The therapeutic process is not easy and rarely yields quick “results.” With care, patience, and curiosity, transformation can be found in and from these difficult experiences. Brene Brown puts it this way, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”