Your loved ones are concerned about you. They think you need to talk to a counselor. Counseling has helped them, and they want you to get the same benefit.
Only… You don’t want to talk. You have no experience with therapy or counseling, or you had a counselor once who missed the mark, made you feel bad, or just wasted your time.
The idea of sitting with someone to talk about your “feelings” seems daunting or just stupid.
I get it.
Here’s the thing: Counseling is not for everyone. While we all need support and resources during hard times, therapy doesn’t always fit the bill. You need something that helps you, but that something can come in many other forms. “Talking about it” is not always the answer.
Figuring out what you need is not always easy, though. You may consider a few sessions with a counselor just to identify some non-therapy options for you, but if you have an absolute aversion to even brief therapy or counselors in general, here are a few ways you can get “therapy” without going to therapy:
- Your Tribe
Flow. Entering a state of flow is an inherently therapeutic practice, akin to meditation but without the “mind clearing” mandate. Flow is the state of total focus and absorption in an activity, to the point where nothing else seems to exist and you lose time without realizing it. To enter a state of flow, you need to identify an activity that holds your interest and is just a tad more difficult than your usual activities. This activity can’t be something you can do automatically, but must require some focus and sustained attention. Clearly this is different for everyone but some examples are: Completing a puzzle, Doing academic research, Fixing something, Practicing a precise art, or mastering a physical feat (such as a headstand for you aspiring yogis).
Sweat. The benefits of sweat can not be overstated. Our emotions and reactions are not just in our minds; they are in our bodies, too. Without saying a word about what you’re going through, a good sweat can provide a sense of calm and clarity. There is a reason that sweat lodges have been part of spiritual ceremonies for hundreds (or thousands!) of years. You might break a sweat by exercise or by sauna. You absolutely must consult with your doctor about the proper amount of sweating that is safe for you, given your medical history. People with low blood pressure and other health issues may have to skip this option.
Create. Making something has multiple therapeutic benefits. First, when you create, you are very likely to enter the flow state mentioned above. But also, creating provides a gratifying sense of control that can help improve your confidence and remind you of your strength. The creation may be art, but it could also be cooking, developing a new program, or building something. You don’t have to be “creative” to reap the benefits of creating.
Write. There are so many ways that writing can help you if you don’t want to “talk.” Writing is a private way to express your reactions and process your experiences. Writing can also be shredded or deleted if you don’t want any evidence of your mental purge. There are many ways to write for therapeutic purposes, but here are some examples I’ve shared before. Therapeutic Writing – Angela Dora Dobrzynski, LPC
Your Tribe. Without saying a word to them, being in the presence of people who get you and accept you is therapeutic. To exist without explanation and to just be with people can be a healing gift. If you have people like this in your life, spend more time with them. You don’t have to talk about feelings, but when in the presence of your tribe, you undergo some healing by nature of the fact that you are a part of something.
Nature. Exposure to nature decreases mental distress and anxiety, while improving many physical functions such as heart health and blood pressure. Additionally, the cognitive benefits of clarity and increased ability to focus can prime you for “flow state activities” or writing activities discussed above. You don’t have to do much to reap therapeutic benefits of nature. Sitting amongst trees, walking on grass, or lying under a night sky all help.
Clearly as a therapist I know there is value in counseling, but I also know that you may never feel comfortable with it. The interventions above are a good start for some self-healing and may be just what the doctor ordered. I would love to hear what works for you!