In Psychotherapy people learn how to reflect more on their lives, choices, behaviours and feelings. This more thoughtful and reflective mode translates into how one sees her or his world and their place within it.
We learn to feel more connected to ourselves and others, and to behave in more thoughtful ways as a result of greater self-awareness. This ‘looking inwards’ has sometimes been mistaken for individualistic or self-indulgent. However, what it does is exactly the opposite – we can only relate better to others and the world around us when we have first developed a better relationship with ourselves. Qualities which are usually seen as altruistic, selfless, and giving usually stem from a place of gratitude and generosity. Whilst some have it in themselves already, others will need to learn it.
Psychotherapy is also about congruence and authenticity. The more out of touch we are with our true values, needs and wishes, the more we suffer. Psychotherapy puts us back in touch with those values, needs and wishes, through a complex process of working through barriers which we have put in place early in our lives.
These needs and wishes are not material or superfluous, but are universally felt needs for connection, love and belonging. The more we diverge from these needs, the more alone and isolated we become. Admitting the need for connection and love can sometimes be painful and even shameful. This is because our fundamental early needs for connection, attunement and love have not been met in the past – to varying degrees.
Only through realising our early wounds, can we begin to heal and move past them into a different way of being in the world which entails connectedness, support, caring and giving. In essence, some of us will need to learn how to feel and give love.
Learning how to love others is the most fundamental quality needed during any crisis. If we can’t love, we harm – ourselves and others. When we love, we can extend ourselves to others, empathise and feel with others. When we truly see someone else’s pain, we see them as a ‘real other’. This applies not just to human beings, but also animals and nature.
In Psychotherapy we can work on lessening this ‘disconnect’ between who we want to be and how we currently live. People discover new ways of being and living as a result of this work. Therefore, in key times such as these, let us move consciously into shaping a better world for everyone and the planet we live in.
Sam Jahara is a Psychotherapist and Co-founder of Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy. She has a special interest in how Psychotherapy can influence social change.
Further reading by Sam Jahara
Making the most of your online therapy session
How Psychotherapy will be vital in helping people through the Covid-19 crisis
Psychotherapy and the climate crisis
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