Therapy that works

"Perfection is a Myth", abstract acrylic on art board 8" x 10"
“Perfection is a Myth”, abstract acrylic on art board 8″ x 10″

To be honest, I’m not big on conventional therapy. Now, that does not mean that I don’t think some people benefit from it or even need it, but I don’t believe it works for everyone. For myself, perhaps it doesn’t work as well because I have already read so many psychology and self help books that I know what is likely to be said anyhow. When I was a foster parent, therapy never seemed to do much for any of the kids who were forced to go. In their cases, I think it didn’t work that well because they didn’t want to be there so they didn’t cooperate or act on the advice given them. If you do go the traditional therapy route, I think it is important to find a therapist who will give you tangible strategies to apply to real life situations and (even more importantly) you have to be willing to put in the work and do those things.

Personally, I have been to therapy a couple times in my life. The first time was when I was 12 and my dad died. That was forced therapy that didn’t go very far because I didn’t want to talk about it and no one could make me. The second time I went to therapy was after my sister committed suicide. I do feel that talking through my feelings with a professional helped some in that case, but it wasn’t what healed me. Looking back on the rough patches in my life, I have found that some of the most effective forms of therapy aren’t those you find in a therapist’s office. Here are a few of the “therapeutic” activities I feel have had the greatest impact on my life:

  • Spending time with family and friends, even when I thought I would rather be alone. Sometimes when you don’t feel like seeing anyone is when you need their support the most.
  • Spending time with animals. For me this starts with my pets but extends to living creatures everywhere. Animals speak to my soul on a level I can’t even explain and bring great comfort and joy.
  • Spending time in nature – this kind of goes along with the animal one. Being around bodies of water works best for me personally, but everyone has their own favorite spots, even if it is just your own backyard or a neighborhood park.
  • Music – all types of music can be therapeutic depending on what you are feeling. I have my “sad”, “angry”, “happy”, “relaxing” and “inspirational” songs to help me through whatever I am dealing with.
  • Creating – whether it be writing, painting, drawing, baking, etc., it is a great way to release feelings.
  • Getting lost in fantasy – leaving this real world mentally for a short period of time (through a book, movie, etc.) can be incredibly helpful during awful times.
  • Exercise. The key to this for me is doing things that I enjoy and find relaxing, such as walking, hiking, yoga, etc.
  • Meditation/prayer – connecting to my spiritual self helps me to rise above my earthly troubles and find inner peace even in the midst of chaos.

So what about you? What kinds of “therapy” do you find most healing?

My new book club and the mysteries of the human mind

homer-and-langley

Recently I joined a book club. I’ve always wanted to belong to a book club, but have just been too lazy and antisocial to do much about it. Finally, I got up the motivation to attend a book club meeting at my local library. I chose this particular group because I like the fact that they read current and classic novels and that they read a wide variety of genres, which will hopefully help keep me from getting too bored.

Today was the second meeting that I have attended. I am probably the youngest member by at least 25 years, but I don’t mind. I’ve always tended to bond better with people older or younger than myself anyhow (a common Aspie trait from what I understand). The book we were discussing today was last month’s read, a novel entitled “Homer & Langley” by E.L. Doctorow. As we debated points about the book, we turned to the subject of the lead character, Homer. Homer happens to be blind and the book discusses how he has a special kind of “spatial awareness” and can tell where furniture and other things are located just by sensing them.

We happen to have a woman in the book club who has been blind from birth, so we asked her about this whole “spatial awareness” idea. She explained that she believes it does happen, because she herself can sense where things are by hearing sounds vibrate or bounce off of objects around her. This idea intrigued me because it sounds a lot like the process of echolocation, which is commonly associated with bats and dolphins. Thinking about this made me wonder what other latent abilities we humans may have that we don’t notice or develop because we don’t need them to survive. The human brain is always amazing, but it is also a mysterious thing.

By the way, one other thing about this lady really caught my attention. She hadn’t been there last week, so this was my first time meeting her. I never guessed that she was completely blind until she herself confirmed it. After she shared this fact, I looked at her and was impressed by how colorful and coordinated she was for someone who had never been able to see. She wore perfectly matching clothes, with matching jewelry and even had matching fingernail & toe polish! She looked more put together than I ever do! I wondered why someone would put so much effort into little visual details that they themselves couldn’t even see. I never really came up with an answer, other than maybe the female desire to look attractive still exists even if we can never see ourselves. I guess that is yet another fascinating mystery of the human mind for me to contemplate.

I don’t know this lady well enough yet to form a complete view of her personality and lifestyle, but I look forward to getting to know her and the rest of the book club. Perhaps I’ll even discover some new things about myself along the way.