28 People on the Best Advice They Ever Received from Their Therapists
During the hardest times of my life, there have been certain words—be it from books, a podcast interview, a conversation with a friend or my therapist—that have served as an anchor for me to hold onto whenever I felt overwhelmed and untethered.
Just last year, as I was navigating the grief that came after a capital B breakup, my therapist told me that whenever I felt sad about what I had to say goodbye to, to acknowledge those feelings, but then also think of what I’m now able to say hello to. So, for weeks and months afterwards, I’d recall her advice and try to put it into practice.
I’d mourn the loss of a shared home, and then, look around and marvel at my new space that I can keep as clean as I want. I’d miss the rituals we had of eating dinner and watching a show together every night, but then celebrate the extra time and energy I now had to take dance classes and writing workshops in the evenings instead. It was a subtle reframing that continues to bring me comfort and clarity as I move forward on my own.
In thinking about how helpful this one piece of advice was for me, I asked people to share the best advice they ever received in therapy. Here’s what they had to say.
“Sometimes you don’t need to worry or act. You just need to observe and gather more facts.”—Sukhie
“Change doesn’t need to be huge. You can make small shifts in your mind that make a big difference.”—Didi
“Teach people how you want to be treated. It puts you in the driver’s seat vs. merely reacting.”—Tova
“When you’re feeling depressed, don’t aim for total happiness. Think about what will make you feel just 10 percent better.”—Molly
“For everything you think you did ‘wrong,’ ask yourself what you did right.” —Rebecca
“There’s a logical mind and an emotional mind. Use the middle. The wise mind.” —Fatima
“You won’t feel like this forever.” —Annabelle
“You’ve been telling yourself this narrative about your life for years. It’s not going to change overnight. It’s going to take work and time to undo and reset.” —A.C.
“Sit with your feelings instead of suppressing them or turning towards toxic positivity.”—S.S.
“Feelings are not facts.”—Lori
“Don’t judge your insides against someone else’s outsides.” —Jaime
“If I say yes, will I resent it?” —Aviva
“To differentiate between what’s in my circle of concern and what’s in my circle of control. To visualize this, draw a big circle on a piece of paper and label it 'circle of concern' and then, draw a smaller circle inside of the bigger one and label it 'circle of control.' Write down all the things that worry you. You’ll find that most of the things that worry us are often beyond our control and live in the circle of concern, and while those things can be stressful, there is nothing you can do about them. Traffic? Can’t control it. Leaving your house earlier? Yes. Pandemic? Can’t control it. Keeping clean? Yes. World on the constant brink of disaster? Can’t change that, but you can make sure your own little world is the best and brightest place it can be.” —Emily
“Your presence is your power. If you’re not present, you’re not in your power.”—Cary
“If you keep doing things the same way, you’ll get the same results.” —J.W.
“When having to confront someone, focus on how you feel instead of their actions.” —Gabby
“For POCS who never feel like they’re good enough, it’s rooted in the framework of white supremacy, so we should be extra gentle and kind to ourselves.”—Sabina
“Dating is a skill. To be a good dater, you need to be OK with giving and receiving rejection.”—Kelley
“To stop breaking my own heart.”—Jessica
“To not fear the worst-case scenario. Because there have been some very bad things that have happened before, and yet you always made it through them. You have always survived.”—Summer
“Don’t let someone else tell you what you should and shouldn’t be upset about.”—Leah
“Having all the feelings is human and it’s OK to cry.” —Gloria
“Sometimes people won’t like you. You will survive not being liked.”—Jillian
“Make peace with a parent on this side of the grace. Don’t wait until they’re gone.”—Lynne
“Stop apologizing for things that are not your fault or responsibility.” —Erin
“To mother myself.” —Kathy
“It’s OK to have to take medication to help you. And take care of your physical body.”—Kerry
“People have their own loyalties and things they’re working through. It’s not always about me.”—Emily