You are not lost. We are a personal finance business. We read and reviewed the 15 best investment and money books (according to the experts) so you don’t have to.
However, money is as much the mastery of mind over money as it is money over math. Therefore, as hosts, we also explore work, money, and life. On the “life,” side of our tagline both individuals have gone to there own therapy sessions. We try to normalize conversations around work/life/balance, mental health, and self-care for ourselves and others. That is the purpose of today’s post and review.
For many people, going into the depths of their thoughts and feelings is like going into a dark alley—they don’t want to go there alone. People come to therapy to have somebody to go there with.
In my case, my psychiatrist (Editor’s Note: I am not flippantly interchanging the two professions. I went to see a psychiatrist.) helped me work through a Millennial mid-life crisis I was experiencing. Before finally breaking down and scheduling the appointment, I had unsuccessfully experimented with several of my usual coping mechanisms (most of them negative habits).
You know the list: alcohol, denial, and other unsavory characters that round out the usual suspects. Fortunately, I realized early on that I was spiraling.
The catalyst, or so I thought, was my inability to find work after applying for hundreds of jobs over two years. Trapped in a boiler room I was trying desperately to escape, which was further inflamed by the continued exposure to chronic stress within a working environment that was not mentally healthy for me in a field I was completely indifferent about finally proved too much around the 1,000th plus day of confinement. I mistook indifference for acceptance. After I lost two jobs in one week–leading to a complete emotional meltdown in the process–I realized maybe I wasn’t as put together as I was pretending.
People often mistake numbness for nothingness, but numbness isn’t the absence of feelings it’s a response to being overwhelmed by too many feelings.
Fortunately, I was able to find a mental health professional to talk to (a few insurance hurdles notwithstanding, which you can avoid with this free resource). As evidenced by the existence of this piece, I arrived on the other side of my journey a better person with a greater perspective of myself and how I handle stress.
Not everyone is so lucky.
The four ultimate concerns are death, isolation, freedom, and meaningless. What they forget is that therapy is one of the safest of all places to bring your shame. Do I want advice (counseling) or self-understanding (therapy)?
If you can relate, you are not alone. Interestingly, we know to go to personal trainers for physical therapy, doctors for a fever, dentist for a toothache, yet we leave our minds to fend for itself against a growing onslaught of mental triggers and cumulative emotional damage over the course of an entire lifetime. You don’t have to face your stressors without professional guidance, nor should you.
“There is no hierarchy of pain. Suffering shouldn’t be ranked, because pain is not a contest. You get through your pain by accepting it and figuring out what to do with it.“
- PaychecksAndBalances: Millennial Burnout
- BuzzFeed: This Is What Black Burnout Feels Like
- Mashable: Our best bet against burnout is self-care, just not the kind you think
- Harvard Biz Review: Cope or Quit? Facing Your Mid-Career Crisis
- Bazar: Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden
We talk to ourselves more than we’ll talk to any other person over the course of our lives but that our words aren’t always kind or true or helpful—or even respectful. Most of what we say to ourselves we’d never say to people we love or care about, like our friends or children.
A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
“What I tell everyone who’s afraid of getting hurt in relationships—which is to say, everyone with a heartbeat. I explained to her that even in the best possible relationship, you’re going to get hurt sometimes, and no matter how much you love somebody you will at times hurt that person, not because you want to, but because you’re human.”
Be thou forewarned, therapy is not a panacea.
The nature of life is change and the nature of people is to resist change. We can’t have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want to change but nonetheless stay exactly the same. The inability to say yes, however—to intimacy, a job opportunity, an alcohol program—is more about a lack of trust in oneself. Will I mess this up? Will it turn out badly? Isn’t it safer to stay where I am?
There are two universal truths: 1) the world will change; and 2) humans will resist change. You, I assume, being human means you might have to accept the person you are. Even worse for the ego, you might have to change the facade you’ve built of the person you thought you would become in order to evolve into the person you actually could be.
Most of us have a “they” in the audience, even though nobody’s really watching, at least not how we think they are. The people who are watching us—the people who really see us—don’t care about the false self, about the show we’re putting on.
As all Paychecks and Balances fans already know, the key to overnight success if the first 10 years. Similarly, as Lori explains, “The stages of change are such that you don’t drop all your defenses at the same time. Instead, you release them in layers, moving closer and closer to the tender core.”
It’s Never Too Late, Until It’s Too Late
Sometimes in their pain, people believe that the agony will last forever. But feelings are more like weather systems—they blow in and they blow out.
In our egomaniacal arrogance, we all believe we have all the time in the world until we don’t. This isn’t to say that you should spend each day fearful of the next, or the future. It should have the opposite effect.
As the saying goes, give roses to those around you in the present, not to those around you at the obituary.
People may seek peace and clarity, understanding and healing but deathbeds themselves are often a stew of drugs, fear, confusion, weakness. That’s why it’s especially important to be the people we want to be now, to become more open and expansive while we’re able. We also place undue pressure on those last moments, allowing them to supersede whatever came before.
For myself, my father died, and I found a friend in his wake.
When we weren’t sure of the outcome of my father’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, one of the most thoughtful things he shared with me during that difficult time was that he had in fact shared all there was to share with me his son as my father.
In other words, if things didn’t work out for the best, I wouldn’t be left to spend the rest of my days wondering if there was “anything else” he had to tell me. He gave me the best gift of all that day: freedom.
Without that gift, I may have spent the rest of my life frozen in time. Longing for some lost conversation we never had. Some trip we never took. Or some life-altering wisdom that we never got to converse about over whiskey and cigars while my mom glared at us…for smoking cigars and drinking whiskey.
His admission brought me peace at a time when I didn’t know much else in life but pain and sorrow.
Ultimately, the cancer treatment worked and my father has gone on to live another decade in remission. While still very much alive, the father I knew as “dad” for the first 27 years of my life died the day he confessed he had nothing else to share as a father. From his ashes, I lost a father, but I gained a new best friend.
In the best goodbyes, there’s always the feeling that there’s something more to say.
Don’t wait for tomorrow what can be addressed or said today. Statistically, tomorrow will come, but in reality, tomorrow is not promised to us.
Almost is the Hardest
As Lori accurately observes, “Our past doesn’t define us but inform us.”
I thought about how many people avoid trying for things they really want in life because it’s more painful to get close to the goal but not achieve it than not to have taken the chance in the first place.
If you find yourself stuck at the foothills of “almost” today, I highly recommend Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb. Life may feel like an uphill battle, but I know you’ll enjoy the view on the other side of the mountain way more. Because on the other side of almost awaits a valley of personal accountability and achievements.
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