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the power of being witnessed

I have worked with 4 different therapists in my life. Every single time, I have started therapy in February or March. This is a season where my mind starts spiraling, I get panicky and my mental health is at its worst. It’s my breakdown season.


Now that I have noticed this pattern, I have been able to offer myself supportive strategies, like calling it a “sprint season” (it just sounds better than breakdown season), and booking more therapy appointments during this time, and pre-scheduling times with friends.


As a therapist, one of my phrases that I find myself repeating a lot is: “that makes sense”.


Your experience makes sense and the feelings that you’re having make sense. Even when feelings are uncomfortable or scary, they make sense when put in a compassionate context.


This phrase holds so much value for me. One of the greatest things about therapy is that you are witnessed in your entirety. I have had some really hard experiences with anxiety and burnout and I can pinpoint key moments when my therapist have sat across from me and offered this compassion. Gently offering, “That makes sense. Tell me more”, while I sit crying on their couch. If it makes sense, I feel like everything will be ok.


Being witnessed in therapy has led to subtle shifts that created big changes in my life. I try to live in aligned action - asking myself what makes sense as a coping strategy, and what makes sense as a values-aligned action?


People-pleasing actions make sense because they keeps us safe in relationships, but I found myself offering help and support to people who would take advantage of my generosity. Now I prioritize more reciprocal relationships.


Avoiding anxiety makes sense, because it is uncomfortable and scary, but avoidance was creating an unhealthy stress response that took years to recover from. Now, instead of avoiding my anxiety, I acknowledge it and create supportive practices for myself.


When I’m in a place where it feels like I don’t make sense, I offer myself a new place. I always feel like I make sense in the forest - at least there, I am just another living being bumbling around, trying to survive and experience the world in all of its fullness.


March is almost over, spring is finally here and this weekend I went to the forest. I still feel anxious and uncomfortable like I do most of March. But I’ve learned that those feelings make sense, and everything will be ok.


Maybe you need those words too. You make sense. Your experiences and feelings make sense. I hope these words can help you through hard times like they have helped me.

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