6 Things I’ve Learnt From Seeing A Psychologist

Last year I started seeing a psychologist. And before you think ‘big deal,’ ‘why should I care,’ ‘what,’ – it is a big deal and I’m damn proud of it. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes commitment, it takes money, it takes a generous mental health care plan to make it affordable, it takes vulnerability and it takes a leap of faith. It requires the thinking ‘maybe this could work.’

I started seeing my psychologist about 12 months ago for a whole range of reasons that I won’t go into. But I must admit, I was very skeptical at first. I always thought I was tough enough to get through anything myself or didn’t need help. But I’ve come to realise that everyone needs support every now and then. That life can be tricky and sometimes you need a roadmap and the tools to get you through it. That sometimes you need an outsider to see you clearly, and help you understand more about yourself.

So, a few sessions, a few breakdowns and a few lessons later, here are a few things I’ve learnt from my psychologist.

Understanding my values

I’d say the biggest takeaway from my psych was coming to understand my values. To identify them can be challenging, and sometimes it’s not until you’re grappling with things that you know are not your values. I narrowed mine down to 8.

  1. having a sense of accomplishment
  2. being honest
  3. being courageous
  4. being loyal
  5. feeling good about myself
  6. striving to be a better person
  7. relationships filled with love and affection
  8. living a life filled with purpose

By knowing what your values are, it helps guides your decisions and helps you live in accordance to your values. And to keep you centred.

Self compassion is key

I’ve learnt that I have this habit of putting everyone else’s needs before mine. And whilst I pride myself on being kind and generous, learning to put my own needs first is something I’m trying to learn and implement.

Whenever I was struggling or feeling upset, I would always downplay what I was going through and say it wasn’t a big deal, or that other people had it worse than me. It’s a skill to be able to acknowledge and respect the feelings I’m going through, whilst also acknowledging my privilege. But mental health is not a pain Olympics. There is not a ‘worse than’ winner, there is simply a spectrum which fluctuates immensely.

Learning how to be self compassionate has been a huge learning curve and is something I’m still working on. My takeaway is this – however you feel – greet it, acknowledge it, act on it and simply let it exist. It doesn’t need to be compared or devalued, just simply felt.

Make time for yourself

Sure, I may have only committed a few hours to these appointments across the year, but I feel that this left a bigger mark and highlighted the importance of taking time out to look after yourself. Whether it’s a mental health day (or a wellbeing day – as I like to call it), spending a Friday night in, calling your family just to say hello, buying some pizza, getting your nails done, spending a day reading a book – you don’t owe anyone anything, and it’s completely OK to put yourself first.

Balancing being present and looking forward to the future

If anyone knows me, they know that I always have something planned, something in the works to look forward, and that’s usually a holiday or adventure (thanks COVID). Sometimes I get too caught up with planning and organising, that I overlook what I have right now.

But saying that, during COVID I’ve been Miss Present. Taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, because thinking about the future was too daunting. But now it’s July? And whilst I’ve appreciated the slower pace and more meaningful engagement of being present, I’ve failed to look forward and set goals for what I want to achieve. My worst nightmare would literally be waking up and I’m 90 years old thinking, ‘where did my life go?’

So it’s all a balancing act. Being able to accept the now and run with it, but also to make small goals that are aligned to your values, so that when the going gets tough, you’re on a path that you’re happy with.

Being real and vulnerable is hard

Let’s be honest, opening up old wounds is pretty traumatic. The way my psychologist put it was my thoughts and experiences have kind of been shoved into a linen closet. You know when you’re pushing to get that towel in and you shut the door, put your back against it and hope it stays in there? Yea that was my mind.

When you start digging deep and opening up, the doors smash open and the towels, sheets and random tennis balls all flood out, creating a huge mess all over the floor. It hurts, it’s emotional, it’s hard and it feels like you’re getting nowhere. When you start talking about it, you’re slowly folding it up and putting it back in with kindness and care.

Go slow

I somehow got into a bad habit of being busy. Weekends booked out months in advance, running from one thing to the next, feeling pressured to do things, see people and omg it’s exhausting. From working out what my values are and recognising that quality time, self-development and living a fulfilled life does not equate to ‘busy.’

Take the time to go slow, balance the now with the future, say no if you don’t feel like it, get in the ocean, make no plans and go easy on yourself.

***

I’m incredibly lucky to be able to access a psychologist to look after my mental health. It’s something I never thought I would do, it was something I was scared to do, but it’s also one of the bravest things I’ve done. Make sure to look after yourself, especially during these hard times. Reach out to your mates and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is not business as usual

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that ‘the disease that shall not be named’ is posing a much bigger threat to society than initially anticipated. COVID-19 has shown us how connected our world is and has shown that borders, policies or political leaders, cannot stop it.

And while we’ve been stumbling our way through it all, panic buying toilet paper and pasta, we’ve all been acting like business as usual, with a side of panic. The stats and data are there, this thing is dangerous and threatens the vulnerable. THIS IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL.

This means that we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done. We need to be critical, creative and caring. We need to think outside the box, make sacrifices and ultimately adopt a level of discomfort and uncertainty for the foreseeable future.

So I’m interrupting business as usual with some ideas and tips on how to navigate this difficult time without losing your mind, with realising there’s enough toilet paper for everyone, and holding on to what’s left of our humanity.

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats it’s most vulnerable members

Gandhi

There are many people around the world who are doing it tough in this difficult time. Everyone is struggling to adjust and adapt to this new reality, no one was prepared.

Be kind and patient. Assume that everyone is doing their best. Talk to loved ones and reach out, even if they seem fine, remember, this is not business as usual.

It’s OK to turn off news notifications and block alerts from social media. This doesn’t mean you’re being ignorant, it means that you’re trying to preserve yourself. This is a marathon.

Take care of yourself and the people around you. Wash your hands. Drink plenty of water. Invent a new way to give your housemate a hug.

Practice gratitude for the things you do have. Internet, access to information, clear blue skies (for the first time in months), a community, clean water, Netflix.

Remember that your inconveniences and hurdles, could be saving lives. Though I must admit, stressing about toilet paper is extremely inconvenient, I’m reminding myself that the world will not fall apart without it. Yes it sucks that your travel plans are affected, that party, festival, wedding is cancelled, but it will come when the time is right.

It’s normal to be anxious and concerned. Whilst no one knows what the next few months will bring, we all need to realise that we’re in this together. We will figure it out, we will respond, we will learn and we will grow.

We will get through this, but let’s keep our kindness and humanity in tact.

Finding your voice and racing to learn

There’s not many people who can get me panicked that I’ll miss a train at 6:30 in the morning, except for my friends. And on Sunday 8th March, International Women’s Day, I spent some quality time with some strong women that I’m lucky enough to call my friends.

Zina and I had tickets to the All About Women Festival in Sydney. It was our second year attending so I think this is the start of a new and exciting tradition for us.

Race to learn

We attended a session featuring the deity Flex Mami and iconic Clementine Ford all about ‘finding your voice,’ especially in the digital sphere. Just two seats away was my amazing colleague and I knew we’d have a lot to talk about when we returned to the office.

The conversation ebbed and flowed between why we may or may not need to find a strong online voice for ourselves, where our voices develop from and what drives us to voice our opinions and experiences.

“We always race to speak, but we don’t always race to learn and understand.”

Flex Mami

I thought that the biggest take away for me was that some of us are lucky to have a platform, my blog is one of mine. And that with a platform comes a responsibility.

My colleague asked me yesterday at work what was my purpose in life – I know, just small talk.

After thinking about it for some time, now, in the stage of my life I’m currently in, I replied, ‘to learn all that I can.’

I believe, what Clementine and Flex showed was vulnerability in not knowing things, in making mistakes and growing and evolving their ideas and values.

“No one finds their voice or comes into this world as a perfectly politically correct person.”

Clementine Ford

We’re all on this journey together, and this International Women’s Day, with the theme being Each for Equal, is really resonated that we’re all trying to do our best and understand this crazy world and our position in it.

So, what about my voice?

At 25 I know that I’ve got a voice. I know how to use it. I’ve perhaps used it irrationally before. And I’ve said things that I perhaps regret or shouldn’t have said.

But I’m aware of this. I feel so aware of my views, values and voice and I’m always questioning why I think, react and behave this way. I think what’s next for me is refining my voice. Cutting out all the shit, all the nonsense, all of the stuff that does not spark joy, and use my voice wisely.

I want to race to learn, rather than race to speak. Because I think when we learn and take our time, is when we grow and create magic.


A huge shoutout to the incredible women in my life who have shown me the way, and played a pivotal part in me finding more voice. To my family, friends, colleagues, role models, acquaintances… to the people who listen to me, support me and lift me… thank you.

This world is a better place with you in it.

Seeking discomfort

Maybe it’s Mercury in Retrograde, but maybe it means that something exciting is coming… I just have to find my way through it all.

I think it started at the turn on the new year. Entering a new year, a new decade, I felt myself starting to yearn for something big. I am very happy in my life right now don’t get me wrong – I guess it was more of a realisation that if I don’t do all of the things I want to do now, then when will I do it?

For example, I have said I’ve wanted to go to Tasmania for the last three years. I keep talking about it, imagining it, researching it, making plans, and guess what… I still haven’t gone to Tasmania. And if I don’t make my wants and needs a priority, maybe I’ll never go.

I feel like 2020 is a big year and that it’s the year for saying yes to something that scares the shit out of you. I feel that I’m in a great spot, a comfortable spot. I’ve created an amazing environment in my workplace, I’m friends with my colleagues, I’m good at what I do and I’ve been getting coffee from the same guy nearly everyday for 6 years, I live in a nice place with amazing people, I know all the good coffee spots around town… but I am afraid.

I am afraid of becoming too comfortable. I never want to take this comfort for granted, but I’m also not ready for my ‘once in a life time’ comfortable life. I’m 25 years old. Yes I could be engaged, saving to buy a house, heck, even popping out a kid or two. And while maybe that’s coming for me one day, I am currently seeking discomfort.

So this year I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Well, in several different rings. In several different locations, and industries, and positions… let’s just say there’s a lot of hats floating around with my name out there.

And maybe it’s asking too much to expect those hats to land perfectly aligned, perfectly timed, and in preference of where I would like to wear those hats… yep – I know I’m dreaming.

I guess in my current quest for discomfort, I’m bloody uncomfortable. I have to make hard decisions to make and need to dig deep to think about what I really want in life. Seeking discomfort doesn’t mean I’m not grateful and completely in love with my life as it currently stands. It just means that I’m ready for the next challenge, and maybe it’s time for me to step up.

Sometimes, all you can do is throw your hat in the ring and bask in the discomfort of not knowing where it will land.


In the spirit of seeking discomfort, this is the first in a new blogging series. I want to write more, be more open and connect with people who might be experiencing similar challenges, experiences in life.

So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on an update.


Recommendations

🎧She’s On The Money
Their latest episode ‘I see it, I like it, I want it, I got (credit card) debt,’ is a brilliant and important conversation about our society’s view of credit cards. It was a bit scary because they said several things that I have explicitly thought myself like ‘I’ll pay it off,’ ‘I only put necessary items on credit,’ etc. but the truth is, personal debt in Australia is crazy. We have one of the highest rates in the world and I have one. I don’t know if it’s me just trying to justify my use, but…. they’re not evil, I think it’s just a wake up call for me to reflect on my spending habits and think about what I buy on credit and how I could navigate my spending in a smarter way.

📺Liar
Whislt this TV series isn’t the most gripping, best acted show I’ve seen, the framing of this show is incredible. It will make you think about your biases, and turn them on their head. In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein verdict, I think this is incredibly important. The end of Episode 3 will have your mouth wide open in disbelief.