If you are a busy mom, you might think, “Therapy? Why make the time for that when I generally feel fine?” However, working through your emotions isn’t the sole province of the mentally ill — everyone can benefit.
Society doesn’t offer any crash courses in emotional intelligence, even in schools. How are you supposed to teach your children a skill when you never received any training in it yourself? If you’re a mom, you should go to therapy — if for no other reason than to give the future generation the tools they need for maximum success and contentment in life.
1. It’s Much More Than a Couch Trip
What do you visualize when you imagine a therapy session? You probably picture someone reclining on a couch sharing their most intimate secrets. Traditional talk therapy does operate on the principle that discussing your problems can bring clarity — but it’s only one modality.
Today, researchers understand more about how the mind and body are one. Treating one can often help with issues in the other. For example, exercise and proper nutrition are vital therapies for treating depression. Both can help ease the lack of energy, and correcting nutrient deficiencies can further alleviate symptoms.
Some therapies can supercharge your progress if you are coping with past trauma. For example, many survivors of childhood sexual abuse find yoga therapy helpful — but you might need to do so under the guidance of a professional. Poses like puppy and happy baby can trigger flashbacks if you attempt them in a standard class. However, you can learn to work through these postures and reclaim a sense of control over your body with the right assistance.
Addressing your issues is vital to positive parenting. As much as you try to compartmentalize, you can’t keep past experiences from coloring your present. Repressing your emotions will at best drive you toward negative coping mechanisms like drinking that rub off on your children. At worse, it can cause you to unconsciously traumatize your child.
If you had an abusive parent, for example, that manifested certain physical quirks — always twirling their hair a certain way or making specific hand gestures when they talk — you could unconsciously become triggered when your child exhibits similar innocent behaviors. You could become irate with your little one without ever knowing why and snap at them for no reason. Through therapy, you can learn to identify these triggers and use what psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl refers to as the freedom pause, where you actively choose your response to stimuli like your son’s finger-tapping.
2. Discover and Tweak Your Parenting Style
As much as you love your folks, chances are, you’d probably have parented yourself a little bit differently. If you have a history of childhood trauma, you might want to take the polar opposite of your parent’s approach.
People tend to imitate the child-rearing techniques their parents used, even if they consciously want to change. You probably noticed this phenomenon the first time you heard yourself speak and realized, “Oh, my gosh, I sound exactly like my mother.”
However, if you never learned how to do things differently, your parenting journey is a lot like trying to build a house with no nails, possibly only a few broken tools. Therapy gives you the raw material necessary to hone your parenting style in a way that aligns with your intrinsic values while remaining realistic among day-to-day hassles.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a parenting coach for those moments when you just don’t know how to handle a challenging situation with your little one? If you have a therapist, you already have this resource.
3. Pass on a Positive Legacy
The ultimate goal of parenting is to leave humanity’s future self-sufficient and better off than previous generations. The last part of that equation doesn’t only refer to material things — your child’s monetary inheritance is secondary. The parents who leave a lasting positive impact give their children tools like emotional intelligence and resiliency to manage life’s ups and downs.
You can’t overemphasize the importance of passing on positive coping skills. Your children imitate what you do far more than what you say. If you panic at the least provocation and respond by breaking down, becoming hostile or retreating into your shell, your little one will learn to do the same.
Therefore, you have to do some heavy-duty soul searching and recognize that your way of dealing with things might not be the most effective. Lingering in denial doesn’t hurt only you — it can impact your child’s entire future. How do you want them to respond to future layoffs? If you want them to lick their wounds, then get back out there and supercharge their resume, you need to step up your job search instead of bemoaning the economy while you binge Netflix.
Here’s the thing, though: deep-sea behavioral changes don’t happen overnight. Think about it — you probably learned your negative coping skills from watching your parents over the years. You have the power to break the cycle, but you have to dedicate time and effort to it — and therapy can give you the tools you need.
If You Are a Mom, You Should Go to Therapy
Please don’t think that counseling only helps those with severe mental health issues. Everyone can benefit — and if you are a mom, you should go to therapy for your children’s sake.