“Is this normal?”
“What should I do?”
“How can I stop feeling depressed?”
“Can you talk to my so-and-so about her anxiety?”
“Why am I like this?”
These questions are understandable and reflect a certain amount of frustration with the difficulties at hand. At the same time, they are asked as though a simple answer exists.
One of the most important tasks in maintaining mental health is the development of cognitive flexibility in order to accept the complicated nature of the world and move forward with purpose and balance. We seem to oversimplify everything with lists, dichotomies, buzz words, and catch phrases. Consider the answers people seem to seek to the above questions.
Q: “Is this normal?”
Q: “What should I do?”
A: “Move to Italy. Here’s a person who will set everything up for you.”
Q: “How can I stop feeling depressed?”
A: “Focus on the positive!”
Q: “Can you talk to so-and-so about her anxiety?”
A: “Sure” – and an hour later, so-and-so leaves therapy without a worry
Q: “Why am I like this?”
A: “It’s all because of your mother.”
Do some of those answers seem ridiculous? I hope so. Therapy is not about simple answers. In fact, aside from offering insights based on psychological research and theory, therapists typically don’t give the answer. We are not trying to be annoying. We are simply trying to help you find your own truth. Normal is relative. You should do what makes sense based on your values and resources. Managing depression and anxiety takes effort and time. You are the way you are for about a million reasons, and there are about a million different ways to get you where you want to go.