The Mandatory Tony Soprano Guide For Guys Giving Therapy a Try (In Honor of Mental Health Awareness)
As Mental Health Awareness month comes to a close, we’d like to say thank you to our emotional support pony, our jumbo jar of spirulina, and of course, our new therapist Wendy.
After a grueling year of lockdowns, financial hardships, tested relationships, and watching the world-at-large act like a dickhead, our mental health has taken a hit. But through it all, we’ve been given a chance to reexamine what’s really important and come to the realization that our own mental health is one key to a better world.
But let’s be honest: Therapy was not an easy pill to swallow. We fought it tooth and nail. But like a naked cold-plunge in our neighbor’s backyard ice tub, the experience ended up being incredibly rejuvenating despite initially making us want to curl up and die.
So in honor of this special month where mental health takes front and center, we’re celebrating those brave souls who have ventured forth into the dreaded cold-plunge of therapy (and those who need a nudge to jump in) with The Tony Soprano Guide For Guys Giving Therapy A Try.
Cover Photo: HBO
Feeling Less Than Stellar
Just like athletes need a trainer, mental health takes work. If you're like us and have eaten the mental equivalent of 12 jelly donuts a day since the start of quarantine, you might be waking up feeling a bit sluggish too.
Taking Your Issues Out on Others
The little seed of ennui grows into a bigger problem, manifesting itself in various ways. Before long, it can lead to unwanted actions (and reactions).
Asking a Friend
Friends are great for everything but good advice. If we had a dime for every time our buddies told us to go out and get laid to solve our problems we'd have at least enough for two hotdogs. Time to consider a professional.
Before Your First Session
So someone proposes seeing a therapist. A shrink. A mind-quack. It doesn't sit right with you, but you figure, what the hell? How many more times are you going to faint while grilling kielbasa before you go out on a limb here?
It's normal to be resistant at first. Initial thoughts range from: What's the point? This person can't outsmart me? There's nothing wrong with me anyway? A good therapist won't mind you clamming up and sitting in judgment. They'll be patient and wait for you to come out of your shell.
Finding the Right Therapist
One of the keys to good therapy is finding the right match. Not only do you want someone well-qualified and insightful, but you deserve a person you respect and feel comfortable opening up to. Insurance may be limiting with in-network policies, but even within this framework, it's important to play the field until you find the right therapist for you.
It may take three minutes or it may take three months. But eventually, you'll feel comfortable enough to open up about what's eating you. When this happens, the real work can begin.
Riding the Ups and Downs
As you start to unpack what's on your mind and dig at the root of your issues, there's always a rough patch to weather. It takes time to adjust to new revelations and put into action the mental health skills you're beginning to learn. Just keep sailing, you'll get to where you need to go.
Asking Big Questions
Therapy has a way of contextualizing your life by asking where you come from and why you are who you are. Long-forgotten imprints of your personality will be examined to find out where your mental patterns first began. Answering these big questions will demystify the big issues that gnaw away at us.
Working Through Emotional Turmoil
There will undoubtedly be bad sessions. as you dredge things up you'd rather not talk about. It will probably make you want to quit going to therapy. But stay with it. Coaxing the fragile and deep-seated parts of yourself into the light will help you see them for what they really are so you can master them.
Yep. Gaining control of your issues feels pretty great. Knowing the what, the why, and the how of them - combined with the tools to rewrite negative patterns of behavior - will free up so much misspent energy you can now spend on way better things.
Don't waste time looking for a quick fix. Therapy is a long-term commitment. It takes time to reach a quantum change in your psychology and lay a new foundation to build upon. Like an oil change on your car, routine maintenance is a way to keep your mental health purring through all the many beautiful miles you'll travel in your life ahead.
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