Lately, several clients have come to me worried that the new person they are dating is in therapy or, in one case, in AA and acting as a sponsor for other people struggling with alcohol. There are many reasons to see a professional. Hopefully, the person you are dating is prepared to share more so that you know what you might be signing up for. However, for me, as a coach, it is generally a sign of maturity and high awareness when somebody faces their traumas and takes steps to work on themselves.
It still surprises people that every therapist, counsellor, or coach also takes advantage of seeing their professional mentor. In fact, every therapist has done extensive therapy to become a professional, and most coaches have done something similar. We cannot help others if we have not experienced being at the other end, being vulnerable and owning our struggles. How can I expect my clients to do their inner work if I am unwilling to do the same?
When one of my clients tells me the new person they are dating sees a therapist or coach, I am thrilled. There is still a myth that this is a warning sign and shows that something is “wrong” with this person. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a sign that a person is willing to be introspective and reflective, heal old wounds and become a better, more successful individual and partner.
I’d rather hear that a client dates somebody who has been in AA for a while and mentors others to do the same than denies their alcohol issues and believes they “have it all under control.” There are a lot of addiction issues people live with and choose to ignore despite the impact it has on them and their relationships. We can get stuck on the idea of a partner having “an addictive personality” when they are aware of their struggles and assume problems for the future because of it while overlooking that another person has issues but not the courage or awareness to admit them. Most people have an addictive part or at least the potential for addiction, falling for different obsessions (work, exercise, cleaning) or addictions to substances, gambling, shopping, gaming, or social media. Covert addictions are an issue of concern; the awareness of our addictive coping mechanisms is a forward step, and having found a routine and strategies not to let those addictive issues take over is a positive sign.
I also much rather hear that somebody is seeing a therapist or coach to work on themselves than that they are proudly muddling along on their own with emotional pain, past traumas, depression or anxiety.
And what if your long-term partner or spouse decides to see a mental health professional? If this makes you feel weary, some introspection is called for to explore why. Are you worried they are unhappy in the relationship? Perhaps they have asked you to do counselling together, and you were not ready to do that. Ask them if they are comfortable sharing what has prompted them to make this choice. Consider doing your work in individual coaching or sessions together with your partner. Getting to know ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, and triggers allows us to be better spouses, better parents, and more successful in all our relationships.
Most of us exercise in some form to keep our physical body fit and strong, eat reasonably well to stay healthy, take supplements, and keep our immune system strong. All that is excellent self-care for our physical body!
Self-care for our mental and emotional needs goes hand in hand with our physical health. The inner work is as essential as the outer one. If you are too anxious or depressed to exercise regularly, cook well or take good care of yourself, therapy or coaching is your starting point to get yourself back on track. Or perhaps you feel that you have already done a lot of inner work, but life “keeps happening,” throwing us curve balls just when we think we have it all figured out. So why would you stop your inner work instead of maintaining your mental and emotional strength?
Seeing a professional for your individual needs or your marriage needs is a self-loving gift you give yourself. It is an investment in your well-being and a successful and happy future. So, book the next appointment with your mental trainer today.