I thought I was good at talking...
Most of us are excellent at talking about ourselves in certain contexts and/or perhaps with certain people but, in my opinion, it is very much worth prior to coming to therapy, preparing oneself for how unfamiliar it can feel to truly talk about ourselves without any reservation. Often when clients come to therapy for the first time, at some point in the session, they will comment on how strange it is to actually say some of the things that they’ve been thinking, in some cases, for years. Sometimes this hits a client so forcefully that they may require time to gather themselves, whilst being simultaneously shocked that they are reacting so strongly to simply talking about themselves. Much of the time it is not so much that we find ourselves telling a relative stranger our most intimate thoughts unsettling but more that we are hearing ourselves saying things that we usually only think.
So then, why is saying something so much more powerful than thinking it? My theory is this: thoughts rocket through our mind at epic speeds, often to the degree that we are unable to ascertain precisely what they are, or mean, in context with the rest of our lives.
Thoughts can become blurs that we refuse to slow down for fear of what they truly look like, whereas speaking our thoughts forces these blurs to slow somewhat into focus. As a result, even though you may have had certain thoughts regarding particular behaviours for years, it is important that one prepares oneself for the fact that such thoughts may seem almost unfamiliar when they become words.
So, with all of this in mind, it is my opinion that a person should consider verbalising some of their thoughts prior to therapy - even if it is simply under their breath (at an appropriate and private time and place!). If one is able to do this it may help to make that first therapy session slightly less daunting and will perhaps prepare you for how emotional it can be to turn blurry thoughts into ‘high definition’ words.
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