The pros and cons of "Therapy talk" in relationships
Do you recall a time when the mention of "therapy" was enough to repel others and make them think something was wrong with you?
Therapy has reached a transition in recent times due to the shift in narratives that our culture has taken on
We now hear the mention of someone seeking help, and we assume they are evolving and honing in on their emotional intelligence. Our binary lenses have allowed us to simplify circumstances to understand their meaning and attempt to navigate choices.
It works well in certain aspects of our life but has negative consequences if it is our only relationship view. This is where the notion that your partner is seeking assistance in regulating their thoughts can be seen as a positive. This presents a problem when we are having an argument with our partner and feel that we are right and they need to take the time to see the narrative from their point of view.
In this post, we will cover the pros and cons of therapy talk and how it can sometimes hinder relational dynamics when used as a weapon rather than a tool. This means that we are molding a situation to have a different outcome than what may happen to keep ourselves safe from it. An example of this can be when we see someone whispering to another coworker, and immediately we shift into the thought that they might be talking about us and begin to pathologize their actions. We then categorize that person as "bad" and create a reality in which they gossip and say mean things or gaslight us. This can be problematic because we must often attempt to disprove this thinking and believe it to be fact.
This distorted view of the world aims to protect ourselves from being "hurt." The impact is that we walk around believing that our story about others is the only story and isolate or seek confrontation due to this believed injustice. Other areas where this can impede our development are when we apply for jobs, school, take a test, etc. If we think we are "not worthy" and "bad," we act accordingly because we prevent ourselves from listening to evidence of the contrary.
A famous family therapist states, "In the past, you could have said, 'I think this, and so does the rest of the community.' So does the family, so does the church. Today you say, 'I think this, and so does the DSM-5.' I don't like what you do, so I say you're gaslighting me. You have a different opinion, and I bring in a term that makes it impossible for you to even converse with me. Labeling enables me not to have to deal with you."
This brings us to when having good knowledge of standard therapy practices is helpful to our relational intelligence. Once we take the time to understand ourselves, we are better able to understand the world around us and show people grace.
Two pros to therapy talk:
First, we can understand our emotions and our triggers.
Categorizing the levels of a conversation and being able to take inventory of an argument and using it as a preventative measure for future conflicts. When speaking to a partner or friend, ask, "How did you hear me say this is helpful?" Presenting your intention and leaving room for error with your impact creates space for the other to see that you're being open to their perspective. The same can be said when conversing and realizing your inner alarm is ringing. Simply stating, "The story I'm telling myself is..." opens you up for multiple interpretations of the dialogue.
2 Cons to therapy talk:
Why we should be cautious of too much "therapy talk" outside the sessions because we start to blur out nuances in real life.
One last question to ask yourself is; can we become informed about our behavior without using it as virtue signaling and having contempt for our partner in the process? Is it possible to be informed and use it for better? If so, is it possible that this is my tool for regulating myself?
These are learned survival skills that we attributed from a young age. As great as it is to protect ourselves, it also prevents real connection because we are silencing the other person's voice, and how will we grow if we cannot have circumstances with multiple lenses?
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