You are moving along on your therapeutic journey and all is going well. You are practicing self-care, you have healthy thoughts, and you feel great. You have gained insight into yourself and you have done the work to uncover the cause of the anxiety or depression you used to feel. As a matter of fact, you feel so great that you can't believe you could ever feel like this. You feel balanced in a way that you hadn't previously thought possible. And it is about this time you begin to wonder and ask, "What if somehow I go back to my old self?"
This is a common question in therapy - and a common fear. For those who previously have experienced anxiety or depression for many years, it can almost feel strange when those feelings are left behind. I mean, who is this new healthy person you have created through all your hard work anyway? And it stands to reason that if you have felt anxious or depressed in the past, you'll experience it again in the future, right?
Yes, you have felt depressed or anxious in the past. Yes, you have had difficulty knowing yourself and your needs. Yes, you have struggled voicing your opinion and letting yourself be heard. Yes, you have struggled knowing that you are good enough and building a confident self. You also however, have addressed your feelings. You have explored your origins of anxiety and sadness. You have learned coping skills. You have learned how to reframe negative thoughts. You have done the work.
As therapy progresses, as much as you want to improve and feel better, it can actually be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you are changing during the process. As you explore your history, as you learn your triggers, as you process childhood trauma, and as you process life events, you gain insight into yourself. You learn who you are. You also learn who you want to become. In other words, you grow. And growth is something that cannot be changed. You suddenly will not unlearn everything you have learned about yourself during your therapeutic journey. You are not on the same path from which you started. Growth brings new paths, new thoughts, new behaviors and new vision.
Will situations arise where you feel sad, scared or anxious? Yes, they will. After all of your work in therapy will you know how to begin to handle these situations?
Yes, you will.
Want to read more about this topic? Check out this article I wrote for Goodtherapy.org.