Whose Life Is It Anyway?
The value of individual therapy is increasingly understood and accepted in our culture but translating the benefits to a single person is tricky. Time and resources are finite and sacrificing them to our mental health is difficult when the outcomes are unclear. The question of why to engage will always be difficult when we don’t know what we will get. I will try to help illuminate what might be on the other side that is worth sacrificing your time, resources, and comfort for.
Imagine watching yourself in life as a simple puppet moving about your daily tasks and experiences normally with control. (Bare with me here!) Visualizing this is probably more strange than distressing. Now look at yourself in critical moments or stressful periods where you see the puppeteer taking control. Noticing the puppeteer compelling you towards people and life changes. A force that is not your own guiding your life towards this present moment. Always lurking within and varying in influence on your life. Knowing deep down that something is going on that you cannot put your finger on. Now it's probably a strange and distressing feeling.
The metaphor of the puppet and puppeteer is that of the person and their emotional complexes. These complexes good and bad live within us and shape our daily life. They develop over time from our temperament, experiences, relationships, choices, and reactions. Our sense of self worth, whether we perceive ourselves as safe with others or by ourselves, and the meaning structures are all dynamics that we manifest through behavior.
What you can get out of undergoing the therapeutic process is seeing how much you (The Puppet) is in control vs your emotional complexes (The Puppeteer). Of course, you feel that you are in control. We all do. However I do wonder how much the puppeteer comes out in your life or the situations in which you know its there. If you are struggling for an example think of when you are hangry, lonely, tired, or stressed.
Achieving illuminations into deeper processes and how they dictate your life is what you can get out of therapy. (Seeing how much the puppeteer is present) Shining a light onto dynamics that you thought were normal, differentiating that the critical voice in your head is actually your mother’s, finding out that you use work, drugs, relationships, thrill seeking, etc.. to fill the void of feeling unworthy. The list is endless. In the vast majority of cases I see the patient was not responsible for putting them there and are relieved to become aware.
A second major component in what you can gain from therapy is how to understand this puppeteer within you. Where it comes out, how you react to it, and how to reclaim that space for yourself. The reintegration process. Many people increase their self esteem and direction through therapy because they became aware of areas that they lacked control in and did something about it. Whether it be something more subtle like asserting yourself in difficult work situations or coming back from the brink of an addiction, we all must interplay with the puppeteer that lurks within us.
If you were able to make it through the metaphors and have an affinity for Pinocchio please feel free to reach out for a consultation or session.