Column: The three important concepts I’ve learned since being in therapy

Malik Harvey, Staff Writer

At the beginning of this school year, I was in a rut. Stress began to weigh on me like a heavy book bag.

Being away from home, a hefty serving of new responsibilities and an unshakeable feeling of regret all convened on my conscious and produced a rather dark shadow.

For the second time in my life, I knew I needed to talk to a professional about my mental difficulties. 

My first time starting therapy ended after two sessions due to COVID-19. Two years later, now seven sessions in, I feel equipped with tools and concepts to help manage my day.

I share these three concepts in hopes at least one person uses them in their own life and is empowered to change or seek help. 

The first concept is “Being your own Best Friend.”

Times where I’ve felt I didn’t say enough, said too much or didn’t say anything at all play like reruns on a small screen in my head. My therapist advised me to close my eyes and picture the younger me who made these mistakes; thinking of the advice or comfort I needed from someone at that time. Once the words and emotions came to me, I was to verbalize them.

After a few deep inhales and even deeper exhales, I opened my eyes to what felt like a new room. I felt light as snow while sitting adjacent to my therapist, in that moment, any feelings of regret seemed to have melted away.

I’ve begun implementing this concept in the morning. I do a self-scan of what I’m lacking emotionally, and once I’ve honed in on that empty bucket, I fill it as best I can. To help give perspective, you can think of it as a meditation and affirmation practice. 

The second concept is “Being Enough.”

My therapist asked me a poignant, follow-up question at the beginning of a session: “When was the first time you felt as though you weren’t enough?” For me, this emotion presented itself in a letter from my elementary school, saying I should be placed in special education as a 5th grader.

Luckily, my parents opted for Sylvan tutoring instead of heeding the advice of my teachers. The six months that I was in the Sylvan program helped set an academic foundation that’s allowed me to achieve more than I could’ve imagined, yet, emotionally, the pretense of “not being enough” still casts a shadow on any accomplishments.

While on this journey, becoming a college student can only exasperate this idea, as rejection has many faces in academia. It’s become important for me to act like a quarterback who just threw an interception when moments of rejection occur; acknowledge it happened, extract the lessons from it, then, clear my mind so I can move on to the next play.

“The Power of Imagery,” is the last concept.

One thing that can be crippling for me is social anxiety. My therapist suggested I close my eyes, once again, and picture what my anxiety looked like. I imagined a green, decrepit thing, hunched over, with no teeth and a wizard’s walking staff. The walking staff was broached in my heart.

I was then asked to open my eyes and imagine my foe in the palms of my hands. I was asked what it felt like to see my anxiety standing apart from me, and I thought it felt like blowing a runny nose. I was relieved.

Being able to picture my anxiety taught me it’s a lot easier to win a war when you know what the enemy looks like. 

Just like skydiving, therapy isn’t for everybody. If you feel like you’re going through a difficult time mentally, as I felt, then it’s best you find a therapist to help you through your angst.

Submit to the process. It’s the only way you’ll get anything out of it.