One of the common themes among clients in therapy is that they are the only one. They fear they are abnormal, that they are doing something wrong, or that they face their challenges alone. This worry seems nearly universal. We hear it with adults and teens, with couples, individuals and families. We get asked the question “am I normal?” a lot!
We tend to imagine that others must live uncomplicated and well-adjusted lives. Perhaps this notion is fueled by several factors: Hollywood images of “perfect” people living productive and happy lives, our relatively isolated nuclear families, and the pressures of workplace decorum to keep all of our troubles under wraps.
While it can be helpful to be able to compartmentalize our troubles in order to deal with our daily lives, there is a downside too. Our lack of interpersonal intimacy can also create a very real isolation and a crisis of confidence in the normalcy of life’s difficulties. As isolated as we tend to be in our society, we lose opportunities to be “keepin’ it real” with each other. We are left with an separation that fuels misgivings about our own imperfections.
You are not alone!
Anxiety counseling can provide a powerful antidote to the perception that we are alone in our struggles. Once we realize we are not alone in our struggle and that they are relatively normal experiences, we release ourselves from the existential questions of loneliness and normalcy and move on to the tackling the present issues.
For new parents we work with in new parent counseling, the number one piece of feedback is how relieved women are to know that they are not the only ones finding new parenthood to be difficult. Mothers share the universal experiences of sleep deprivation; worries about their baby’s health, weight gain, and sleep patterns; adjustments in relationships with friends, family, and marriages; and re-configurations of self-care habits, career focus, and social interactions. It helps lessen the challenge you are going through when you can hear for yourself how you are not the only one that struggles in this way as a new mom or dad!
As Irvin Yalom, group therapy pioneer and expert, discussed, people in psychotherapy also benefit from seeing others who struggle. We see this in our Hold Me Tight group for couples participants see how others have come through their relationship challenges to discover a sense of secure connection with their partners. They gain the support and inspiration of others to fight their couple challenges knowing they aren’t alone.
Sign up for blog updates on relationships, parenting and anxiety challenges!