Things I Learned from Group Therapy

After a challenging student placement that saw me withdraw from university, I decided to seek out a counsellor. I attended weekly group sessions for about two years where I learned a lot about myself, the world and other people. I wanted to write down the key lessons I have learned in case I ever forget them, and in case they are useful to others. This post is the very essence of everything I have worked towards since I chose to do something about my mental health. In no particular order, here are the life-transforming lessons:

  1. It is more important to give energy than to take it. When I say energy, I mean love, attention, kindness.
  2. Don’t be so selfish all the time. Other people matter just as much as if not moreso than you.
  3. See each person as beautiful and love them. Open your heart to everyone you meet.
  4. Centre yourself when you are adrift. When you realise you are acting in a way that dishonours your most authentic self, take a breath, centre yourself, and then do what you need to do. (Be part of the Way.)
  5. Life can be tiring, but giving energy to others is invigorating.
  6. When you start to change, you meet resistance; keep changing. When your old beliefs fight for importance in your life, keep walking along and choosing your new beliefs. The more resistance, the more profound the breakthrough if you don’t give in. (There is always resistance before a level jump, a shift in energy.)
  7. Be mindful. The world is full of miracles to witness. Don’t miss out on them.
  8. One small success is worth celebrating over x amount of failures.
  9. If nothing changes, nothing changes. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got. We must change if outcomes are to change.
  10. There is a whole world outside of your head. Don’t forget the ducks.
  11. Listen when people speak, don’t just wait for your turn to talk.
  12. If you concentrate on stressors, particularly negative feelings in your body, they amplify. Focus on something else and they diminish. They rely on your attention to become important.
  13. Everyone has their flavour, even if they don’t know what it is. We are irreplacably unique, and we change the world in our own ways.
  14. You can find out who you are by cutting out the unnecessary things in your life and challenging yourself to do what scares you.
  15. Cherish life. Be aware of death; none of us can say we won’t die today. It’s better to let go now rather than kick and scream at the end.
  16. I’ve never heard anyone who was on their deathbed say “I wish I had more time to earn a few more dollars.”
  17. All people are broadcasters and receivers of energy, whether they know it or not. We affect the people around us just by what we’re sending out. Don’t be a drag on other people: uplift them, support them and give generously.
  18. We can’t stop thoughts/feelings from coming in. We can choose whether to hold onto them.
  19. It takes time for change to manifest. There is sometimes a delay in applied efforts and visible results. Don’t be disheartened.
  20. Let go of things that are not helpful. Hold them if you need to, but then tell them to someone, let them go, and don’t pick them up again.
  21. Writing or saying affirmations are a stand in time. They are a way of standing up to all your old beliefs, saying “I don’t need you any more,” and choosing to believe something different.
  22. Happiness is not a thing you get and keep forever. It is an attitude, at every moment of every day, no matter how you’d rather feel instead.
  23. Let go of your tight hold on things. You’ll be happier.
  24. That means you don’t need to work everything out. There’s no need to. It’s not your job to. It doesn’t improve your life to.
  25. Letting go of fear facilitates peace. You will never become peaceful by running from what scares you.
  26. Running from what scares you makes your fears stronger. It gives them power. Every time you get scared you have the choice to empower yourself, or empower your fear.
  27. There are three levels of becoming an active agent of change: 1) feeling without any idea what’s happening; 2) becoming an observer of one’s thoughts and feelings, and; 3) standing at the bridge of your authenticity.
  28. When you start to go into the whirlpool of stress, focussing on problems and negative feelings, the thing you need most is a slap in the face with a wet fish. That is to say, a reality check, so that you don’t keep contributing to the spiral of stress and you realise that actually things are pretty okay. (See Point 10.)
  29. Difficult people can be seen as gifts, treasures and teachers: as opportunities to learn what you still need to let go of. Thank them for it.
  30. Whenever you think of someone that has hurt you, send them love from your heart and wish them the best. It will make it easier to let go of them.
  31. When you have your head stuck up your arse, try caring about other things and other people to break the cycle.
  32. It can be impossible to project a positive future when you’re stuck in an anxious mind-set. But trust me, the future can indeed be positive and bright, even if it’s hard to imagine.

3 thoughts on “Things I Learned from Group Therapy

  1. […] This haiku is also a metaphor for not being able to imagine a positive future because you’re currently in a negative mindset. […]

  2. Well said Xin. Some important lessons here. Thanks for posting them.

  3. […] part of my counselling is attending group therapy workshops. It’s hard to explain what’s involved, but they take a “three-pronged […]

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