Processing the painful emotions, part 3 of 4

Your healing toolbox

As you’ve learned more about sociopaths through this blog and your other reading, you’re heading in the direction of healing, of choosing peace.

Now it’s time to explore the benefits of counseling, because sociopaths are Tricksters Extraordinaire. It takes the wisdom of a skilled counselor to help us navigate those shark-infested waters. Remember from the last post: Truth, boundaries and courage will be the tools you need to rescue yourself. And you’re worth it.

Admitting that your experiences with a sociopath are harmful for you is the first step in healing. To read more about how sociopaths operate, check out my Portrait of a Sociopath series.

Keep moving forward—with truth, boundaries and courage in your Healing Toolbox.

It takes courage to reach out for help to someone who can actually help you.

Processing the emotions
Talking about what happened and how we feel about it is essential for healing. Process your emotions with the right people (at the right time and place). Hopefully, you have some trusted and wise friends and/or relatives who can help fill this need. As for me, I tend to prefer one-on-one time versus groups, but I’ve recently experienced the powerful healing of a structured, purposeful group.

I’ve found talking with a skilled counselor to be extremely important, because your counselor can speak truths that never crossed your mind. Those truths will contribute immediately and substantially to your knowledge and healing, potentially rocketing you forward on the path to healing in a few short months. Our counselor, Matt, rocks. We found him in a Google search.

Counseling, a thrift store and braces
A great counselor is like a great thrift store. How so? Well, at a great thrift store, you’ll find clothing from 20 to 30 high-quality stores all in one place. You don’t have to drive around for weeks or months to check out those 20 to 30 stores whose clothing you can’t afford (or don’t consider worth the cost). At a great thrift store, you get beautiful clothing, sometimes with the tags still on, and you get it for a major bargain all in one place.

A one-stop shop
In the same way, you could talk with many, many wise mentors and friends and never come up with the essential truths you’ll receive from an experienced, quality counselor. Your mentors and friends are wonderful and supportive, but they aren’t experts in dealing with people who have personality disorders. You could spend months talking with mentors and friends, and never arrive at the essential truths—the answers—for your problems or circumstances. Your counselor can cut to the meat of the matter in each one-hour session. It’s like getting that beautiful $80 blouse for $3. Shazam!

Find a great counselor. It’s well worth the time and investment, if your goal is to see your life and your relationships improve dramatically. If you can afford to eat out, to have a gym membership, to get your nails done and/or to go on vacations, you can afford counseling. Rearrange and cut some extras for as long as it’s necessary in order to take care of things that are much more important than traveling and fancy salads—your relationships and your peace of mind.

The 1, 2, 3 of counseling
These three essential things will make your time in counseling not only beneficial, but life-changing—assuming that you’ve chosen a great counselor. You have to (1) tell the truth, (2) listen to what your counselor tells you, and (3) make positive changes. Telling the truth, receiving sound advice, and then habitually ignoring that advice won’t help you. Likewise, leaving out essential pieces of information won’t get you anywhere. Tell the whole truth (while staying on the important subjects and not jibber-jabbering off-topic), listen carefully to your counselor, and do what your counselor says.

Counseling and braces
Counseling isn’t always fun—kind of like having braces on your teeth. It can hurt sometimes, but when it’s all done and you’re smiling in the mirror… it’s Happy Dance time. You’re so glad you did it—the braces and the counseling. In fact, braces and counseling are really similar in what’s required. Show up for your appointments, open your mouth, and do what the person you’re paying tells you to do. In one case, your orthodontist is telling you to brush and take good care of your teeth, “don’t eat caramel,” etc. In the other case, your counselor is telling you what people’s behavior means, what boundaries are appropriate, when and how to say no, etc.

And, really. Who tells their parents after their braces come off, “Well, this whole thing was stupid. My crooked teeth looked so much better than these straight teeth. That orthodontist totally ripped you off.” No, your teenager may not say thank you, but the smiles and the Happy Dance say it all (not to mention a newfound appreciation for things like popcorn). “My teeth look and feel great! Woohoo!!!”

Teenagers don’t often beg their parents for braces. Sometimes they whine and complain about it, but once the process is underway, they realize that it’s okay. They can do it. And the results will be well worth the discomfort, the time and the effort. In fact, they can’t imagine their life without having gone through that experience, now that they can see the incredible results.

Ditto on your counseling. Before you get started, it’s hard to imagine how incredible the results can be. Truly life-changing.

So here are the big questions. Are you ready to tell the whole, ugly truth about the mess you’re in to someone who’s experienced and skilled at helping people in your situation? Are you ready to listen to a wise counselor? Are you ready to make some necessary changes?

Not the W-word
The questions above begin with the initial phrase Are you ready…, not Are you willing…, because many people are willing to do things that they end up not doing. In other words, being willing means being available to consider the possibility of maybe doing what needs to be done if there isn’t some compelling reason not to do what needs to be done for some personal reason (i.e., cop-out) such as “I didn’t feel like it,” “I changed my mind” or “It was too hard.” Am I being Little Miss Sassy Pants about that? You bet I am.

In other words, many people are willing to go to counseling, but they never get around to doing anything their counselor asks them to do, other than showing up. Later, these folks complain that they “didn’t get anything out of counseling,” when the truth of the matter is that they didn’t invest anything in their counseling, other than showing up and paying. My ex-husband was the poster child for that one. ‘Nuff said.

Ready for what?
So I’ll ask it again. Are you ready? Are you ready to be asked some hard questions that need to be answered? Are you ready to change the way you view and think about some things? Are you ready to change your own problem behaviors and choices by replacing them with something better and healthier? Are you ready for healing?

Are. You. Ready.

The right medicine
Here’s another way to look at counseling. It’s the right medicine. When your car gets sick or broken, you take it to a mechanic. When your body gets sick or broken, you go to the doctor. Likewise, when your relationships and/or your emotions get sick or broken, you go to a counselor. My dear friends (Isobel and Charlene) and I know this truism personally. When our relationships need some work, and we’ve been unsuccessful in trying to fix them ourselves, we go and see our counselors. You don’t have to sign up for a year of counseling. You just invest yourself one session at a time, as long as you need it.

Investing yourself in counseling won’t eliminate the need to grieve what you’ve been through. Traumatic experiences, like dealing with a sociopath, must be grieved. We’ll cover this essential element of The Healing Journey—grieving—in future posts.

Wrapping it up



The best toolbox ever… your Healing Toolbox.

Coming next: Well, we started this series, Processing the Painful Emotions, talking about a Blankie Sandwich, among other things. In the next post, we’ll think about some other blankets. Some blankets feel good. Some don’t.

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Deuteronomy 31:6

Song for Healing: “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

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